The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Images are great – unless you’re making one of these 3 mistakes

As you know, I’m a fan of images. Pictures are worth 1,000 words and all that.

When people look at a page, they look in this order: first the image, then the headline, then – last – the body copy. You’re probably aware of that, too, and plan accordingly.

But here are some things that might surprise you, courtesy of this excellent KISSMetrics post via my colleague Caryn Stein. It draws on David Ogilvy’s work.

1. Don’t have an image without a caption. Captions matter! Images seize your attention so strongly that they can draw you away from copy. So add a caption that helps pull people back into the ideas in the text. Did you know captions are read three to four times more than copy?

2. Images that force copy to the right can be problematic. To make things easy to read, says KISSmetrics, you want to always anchor the eye on the left. Start each line on the left from the same spot. If you embed a photo in your text to the left and that forces some text to the right, you may lose that anchor of the left margin.

3. Irrelevant images distract. Make sure your image enhances, not confuses your story – or tells your story completely. Avoid stock photography, which alienates most people. Crowd shots aren’t as compelling as individual faces. People always perform better than buildings, illustrations or just about anything else. If you have a person, know that the image will be most compelling if they are looking at you – or toward wherever you want to direct the viewer’s eye.

Here’s an example of an image that tells a story – and features one person – from KISSmetrics.


Are you reading this caption? Yes? See, captions work!

These are guidelines, and there are exceptions. For best results, test for yourself. And stay tuned for my carnival at the end of the month on nonprofit images!

Build Stronger Relationships with Your Donors

Learn More

Share your thoughts!

Join the conversation to offer your insight and experience. Have a question? We’d love to hear it!

About This Blog

Amanda Khoury
Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

Read More

Want to raise more money and learn how to market your cause with bigger impact? You’re in the right place! The Nonprofit Marketing Blog is managed by our team of experts here at Network for Good. We’re here to bring you the best in nonprofit marketing trends, fundraising techniques, technology developments, and amazing nonprofit examples.

Want to be a better nonprofit marketer and fundraiser? Get alerts for free tips, key content, and other training opportunities.

Subscribe