Eliciting solidarity in an emergency appeal
An illustrative analysis
Keywords:fundraising, intersemiotic complementarity, multimodal discourse, systemic functional theory
Fundraising letters mailed by not-for-profit organizations aim at convincing potential donors of the worthiness of the cause that they seek to support, and influence readers to contribute a donation. Their persuasive appeal derives from a complex interplay of verbal text, images (when a photograph is included), as well as a range of typographic features, combined in a visual design by means of layout. Drawing on an analysis of the fundraising letter that Oxfam Australia emailed their supporters in the wake of the Pakistani floods, this study seeks to highlight the ways in which both the verbal and visual modes, while utilizing the distinctive meaning-making features of their respective semiotic systems, work in intersemiotic complementarity to elicit solidarity from the targeted audience and entice donations.
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