I was working with a well-known religious charity that wanted more donors to sponsor poor third-world kids. You know—the fundraising offer forever associated with a weepy Sally Struthers. (I wasn't working with the Sally Struthers people, in case you're wondering.) We were creating a series of print ads featuring families who had sponsored children. They would talk about the great things sponsoring did for them for them and for their own kids. I got to interview the families.
You know how interviews can sometimes feel like a verbal game of “Marco Polo” where nobody connects?
Not these interviews. All of the families were fully conscious of why they were sponsors. They were emotionally connected with the children, clear about the organization, happy about what they were doing, and pleased to be involved in persuading others to do it, too.
One thing bothered me.
Family after family told me how thrilled they were when they discovered the child they were sponsoring was a real person. Not a fake. It was disturbing. These decent, charitable people had assumed that the well-reputed organization they were sending checks to was swindling them! Connecting them with fictional children. This would have directly broken the promise the organization made about sponsorship—a scandalous breach of trust.
Their distrust seemed more suitable for paranoid ...