If you want pictures to bring in donations, you need it to evoke the sympathy of the readers (along side with providing information of the person). To evoke sympathy, there are many ways you can do it:
1. Using cute photos to show its a pity that this cutie is dying (which is what u said in this case)
2. Using a photo of the person will all needles and tubes poked into him lying there to show the pain he going thru.
3. Using the photo showing physical wearing out of that person by the illness, ie chemo until no hair left, abnormal growth on body, distorted limbs etc etc.
4. Using a photo showing the poor living condition of a person
and much more. In number 2,3 and 4, it would evoke sympathy without needing the subject to be cute. He can be fugly but the sight of him lying there barely living could be as effective as a photo showing a cute girl and saying she is fighting illness.
This beggar definitely isnt cute...But if this photo is used, I dun think there would be less donation..
This dying grandpa isnt cute as well..
This guy isnt handsome or cute (in fact quite ugly), but seeing him in such a state would made me want to help him.
Thats why if your point is
"You do not need photos posted all over the internet to win donations...that is gaining sympathy and making use of ppl, otherwise i would expect the donations to be much less."
I would have understood and respected your view (dun mean i would agree with you though). But if you say
"You do not need cute photos posted all over the internet to win donations...if the person in need is not as cute looking, or in fact looks damn ugly, i would expect the donations to be much less."
Then that is a bit weird liao. Becos,
Cute != More Donation
Ugly != Much Less Donation
Maybe you would ask "Then why post such cute pictures to gain sympathy of ppl? Isnt that making use of ppl?"
In the first place, if you really want more donation, its quite futile to post a neutral photo, or no photo at all, of a kid happily enjoying herself and say "She needs money for treatment" I wun be convinced lor, little sympathy would be evoked, very little donation would come, not even barely enough for her treatment and you might as well close the site down.
In the second place, I dun think its really making use of ppl, as charmaine might be really that in need of help. The situation she is in is accurately depicted in her photo and not exaggerated. Her mom most prolly REALLY feel pain in seeing her cute daughter put under so much when she is so young. She is most prolly REALLY that sick. As for the "sympathy" part, its just like other commercial advertisement: you can always choose not to believe and donate/buy. Its up to you to judge.