Harrison’s Fund has been creating a stir this week with its ‘I wish my child was a dog’ campaign. The Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy charity ran two adverts on for a week, asking the public ‘Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’. The ads were identical except that one featured an image of a dog and one an image of Harrison, the eight-year old boy who the charity is named after.

Harrison’s Fund released the click-through results this week – twice as many people clicked on the image of the dog than the image of the child.

Not news for us in the charity sector – the predilection to donate to animal charities has been discussed, reviewed and debated for a long time, with strong views on both sides. Less commonly though, is the issue propelled into the public consciousness.

Understandably – people rarely see or feel the need to discuss their charity giving preferences and explain their reasons. But this campaign challenges the potential donor’s assumptions and choices directly.

“This isn’t Harrison by the way; this is a picture of a dog I found on the internet. Harrison is my eight year old son. I used this image because people in Britain are more likely to donate to save an animal than a child with Duchenne. Sorry if you feel tricked, my son is dying and I’ll do whatever it takes to save him.”

Arguably, most charities may think that their cause is more important than others, but rarely will a case be made so plainly. Straight-forward, concise messaging appeals to the human-being in all of us. Don’t many of us have a loved one that we would do anything to save?

It’s a brave move, and one that will certainly have some negative as well as positive outcomes for the charity. The Trust’s honesty on the humans vs animals debate is refreshing, but we haven’t seen an indication of longer term impact yet. After all, the choice of who you donate to and support, is still yours.