Joy appeal

What is your first reaction towards the following images and statement?

One less cup of coffee for you means food for me for 2 weeks! Please help me!

Thanks to our valuable donors I can have a warm meal every day! Thank you so much!
Why not join the community and contribute to a good cause?

We are better to emphasize with someone’s joy rather than someone’s pain. How should we even grasp their pain if we have never experienced anything like it!? If we are bombarded with guilt based messaging we cannot relate to, we start blending out the issue after a certain amount of time. We are limited to our own experiences and the lives we are born into. This limits us to imagine those who a different from us in their full complexity. But if we continue to strive to attempt to understand different cultures, ethnicities and religions we can help foster greater mutual understanding and empathy.

These children walk 10km every day for fresh water. They do so with a smile on their faces, hand in hand, thanks to the loyal support of donors!

When a charity hires an ad agency to create adverts featuring emaciated, crying children it can be argued that they are exploiting the poor as objects of pity. There are many reported stories where westerns have met local villagers who are outraged to have them and their community displayed in such a manner. They would much rather decline any aid to keep and cherish their dignity.

By using guilt-inducing images, music and presentations of a poor country intentionally, it deliberately taps into the primal human emotion of shame of the ad viewer. At worst, it exploits exceptionally sensitive and emotionally vulnerable people to being distressed by the displayed images.

Even though donors might not be able to 100% grasp the situation, they do care. There is no need to make them feel bad about themselves and their lives. After all, why should we aid people to strive for a better life if we are taught to feel bad about it when we ourselves have one?
I would much rather like to see more adverts showing faces of happy children that have benefited from charity projects.

We go to school every day and we love it!

Source1: (Shawn, 3 Reasons Charities Need to Drop Guilt, Uncultured, 4. December 2011, available at accessed 31 Oct. 2012)

Source2: (Basil, Debra; Basil, Michael D.; Ridgway, Nancy M., Guilt Appeals: the Effects of Responsibility and Altruistic Norms, 2011, available at accessed 31.10.2012)

Image1: (Sheeran, published December 2011, available at, accessed 21.10.2012)
Image2: (Somalia Child, published January 2010, available at accessed 31.10.2012)
Image3: (Happy Kids, February 2012, available at accessed 31.10.2012)
Image4: (Moore, Roger, Unicef, available at accessed 31.10.2012)
Image5: (Liberia, 2010, available at accessed 31.10.2012)