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Why Images Matter By Autumn Lunsford

 Learn why compelling images matter in your ministry communication.

The impact that compelling images have on us is undeniable. We are innately visual creatures, and God has blessed us with intricate beauty all around us. The plethora of messages we receive on a daily basis—both positive and negative—are increasingly visual because research tells us that words coupled with an image are more likely to stick. That’s why using high-quality, emotive visuals in your communication are key to inviting your audience to join your mission. And they are worth the investment.

High quality images have the power to:

  • transport your audience to where the work is happening
  • connect with them emotionally
  • get them excited about your mission
  • help them tangibly feel the need
  • communicate the credibility of your organization

In contrast, low quality images shift the focus of your audience from the impact you are making to negative perceptions:

  • understaffed
  • poorly funded/operated
  • unclear impact
  • dull or lackluster mission

I counsel small to mid-size ministries that a successful image library looks like:

  • 300+ professional-grade images shot with a DSLR camera by a professional or experienced hobbyist. They should feature natural lighting, shallow depth of field, compelling composition, and high resolution.
  • Content (subject matter) that aligns with your brand strategy. Your library should depict images of your “Promise” (the impact of your ministry, or lives changed) and “Proof” of that impact (what gives you credibility).
  • A library that remains fresh. Regularly update your images to reflect your most recent work.

But don’t worry—quality is more valuable than quantity. Take your time and build up to the ideal.

So, how do you assess the quality of your organization’s image library?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are any of the images in our library shot by a professional or experienced hobbyist?
  2. If I lay out a random selection of our images next to those of best-in-class nonprofits (charity:water, Care for Aids, IMB), how do they compare?
  3. Do we have images that capture each of our Brand Strategy Promise and Proofs?
  4. How many images do we have that meet these three criterion?

Practical next steps:

  1. Archive any image that isn’t high quality and compelling.
  2. Organize your library—use categories that align with your brand Promise and Proofs.
  3. Budget to grow your library ongoing. Are there professional photographers in your network who would donate their time or give you a nonprofit discount? Commission them to capture strategic and compelling images on location of your impact at least annually—ideally several times per year (various locations, milestones, facets of your ministry). Not connected to a photographer? We highly recommend our partner, Silent Images.
  4. Identify a person in your organization responsible for maintaining your image library.

Building a high quality, compelling library takes investment and commitment. But the reward is great. You will be able to say less and communicate more. And your audience will be captivated by—and want to join with—what God is doing in and through your ministry.

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Autumn Lunsford is Creative Director at Kumveka, a nonprofit branding and marketing agency serving Christ-focused ministries around the world. She lives in Zeeland, Michigan, with her husband and four children.

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