The most powerful tool in fundraising is imagination

August 12 2010 - Mark Phillips

You are a fundraiser working for an organisation that is fighting to ensure that hunting with dogs remains banned.

The video footage that you’d like to use to make your case is far too upsetting for any broadcaster to feature.

So what do you do?

You don’t show it at all. You do what the League Against Cruel Sports did and show the impact of watching the footage on some of the nations most loved and trusted celebrities.


  • Isn’t this precisely the opposite of what we should be encouraging? It’s just adding another layer of abstraction to the story. The ad doesn’t give me any idea of what the organization actually does.

    When the two choices on the table are “Show some bloody animal footage” or “Show some scripted reaction shots to bloody animal footage,” I’d say it’s time for some brainstorming.

  • Tara Lepp

    I for one think it’s a brilliant ad! I found it upsetting to watch the celebrities’ reactions and to hear the dogs wimpering in the background and had tears in my eyes without seeing the footage firsthand.

    This kind of thing could work for Amnesty International. I know when I worked with them years ago this was an issue. They wanted people to know what was going on and be angered and horrified about it to do something but they recognized that some people didn’t need to see all of the graphic images to be upset by what was happening. And to encourage them to take action.
    I know some countries are more in your face but in Canada it usually doesn’t fly.

  • Hi Elliot

    I think we are going to disagree on this point.

    There’s another video from the same organisation that takes a more direct approach that you may wish to take a look at (graphic image warning)

    But the whimpering that Tara describes along with the viewers’ reactions created a far more powerful image in my mind that those in this second video.

    I genuinely think it a tremendous response to a very difficult creative problem that ticks some key fundraising boxes…

    It is emotionally engaging.
    It engenders trust.
    It firmly defines an enemy in respect of the lobby to change the law.
    It offers a route to tackle this and protect animals.
    It offers a means of self-definition.

    But as with all creative work, it it is how it impacts on the individual that matters. In this instance it didn’t work for you and i’m grateful for you taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply, Mark. It was interesting to me to watch both videos and compare my reactions.

    The celebrity one actually did have a pretty strong emotional impact on me, but without a clear idea of what was being fought against, my emotion really only translated into anger/annoyance at the org making the ad. In that way, the second one was considerably more successful for me.

    I think there’s also some culture clash going on. Hunting in America — as well as the stereotypes associated with hunters — is considerably different. My experience with hunting consists of a few pheasant hunting trips with “hunting dogs” that are really nothing more than pets. I now realize that when I watched the first video, I had no idea what the celebrities were actually watching. But I appreciated both ads more after I actually read online about what the Hunting Act entails. That’s context that the target audience for the ad would (I assume) already have.