November 30, 2010; Source: Daily Mail | The Kardashian sisters have been making the rounds of TV talk shows describing their willingness to swear off use of their Twitter accounts and all other social media as part of a campaign to help singer Alicia Keys raise $1 million for the Keep a Child Alive’s AIDS research (Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe will be joining Usher, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake in “digital death” until the money is raised, a somewhat disquieting campaign theme for AIDS research, but who knows). In any case, the three have been posing on camera and showing slews of their childhood photos also posing virtually since they popped out the womb. It reminded this author of all of the stock photos of happy and diverse children’s faces that show up on nonprofit websites and mailers, few of them authentic, most purchased as part of PR and fundraising campaigns. At least the pictures of the Kardashian sisters are authentically themselves, even if posed. Contrast all the stock posed pictures cluttering your inboxes with the delightful pictures of people served by La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark, New Jersey, in La Casa’s holiday fundraising e-mailing. An article in the Fall 2010 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing titled, “The Unintended Consequences of Using “Posers” in Nonprofit Public Service Announcements and Proposed Self-Regulatory Disclosure Solutions,” suggests that nonprofits employing undisclosed actors taking the place of real people (clients, victims, people in need, etc.) in nonprofit public service pronouncements (PSAs) may actually be in technical violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations on deception, though are unlikely to be challenged. However, the authors say that using real people connected to the nonprofit generates better perceptions of the nonprofit’s social responsibility and higher levels of intent to donate. At least the Kardashian sisters are who they are, not faces and bodies purchased on a website. The authenticity of the faces on the La Casa emailing reveal as much as words do the truth of what La Casa delivers day in and day out in Newark. Truth rather than posers should mean a lot in the nonprofit sector.—Rick Cohen
About The Author
Rick joined NPQ in 2006, after almost eight years as the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Before that he played various roles as a community worker and advisor to others doing community work. He also worked in government. Cohen pursued investigative and analytical articles, advocated for increased philanthropic giving and access for disenfranchised constituencies, and promoted increased philanthropic and nonprofit accountability.