Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
I am often approached by non-profit and charitable organizations that are looking for coverage for specific events or for contributions for their upcoming auctions. Though some photographers may be annoyed by these requests, I take them in stride.
Yes, I am in business to make a profit. However, committing to donate my services is not only fulfilling on a personal level, it has also brought me more clients. Donating photography to charity can work for your business.
Here are few ways charitable giving can be a part of your business plan.
Read more: Creative Advertising Through Giving Back
Ask for Benefits for In-kind Donations
When the donation is a service or good rather than cash, the donation is considered an “in-kind gift.” In-kind donors are often able to take advantage of the sponsorship tier.
For example, if Sally Photographer were to photograph an event for her favorite charitable organization, she would receive similar benefits as those who have donated cash to the cause. In an ideal case, the photographer’s donation of services would be matched dollar-for- dollar on the sponsorship tier, though negotiation may be required.
When approached by a new organization to donate my photographic services, I always ask for compensation via sponsorship for my in-kind gift. Though the organization may not be able to pay me outright, many times, the rewards of sponsorship are sufficient to make the donation worth my while.
Clearly Define your Terms
Make sure you are completely comfortable with what is being asked of you and that you understand what is needed before making a commitment! Just because someone asks you to donate your services, does not mean that you have to say yes! The donation must be right for you and for your business.
Earlier this year, I was asked to photograph a fundraising gala that took place a couple weeks before our recent cross-country move. Though the cause is one that is near and dear to my heart and I otherwise would have been happy to commit to photographing the event, the timing was not ideal. I asked to have a few days to consider the request.
After thinking it over, I decided to offer my services in another way, through photographing portraits to be used in the event’s program. The request of me was not going to work at that time, so I offered a solution that was beneficial to the organization and to my business (and personal life).
Further, regardless of whether you receive compensation for your work, a contract should be in place to clearly outline what is expected of you and what is expected from your client (the organization).
Treat the donation like a paid client session in that regard to be sure your bases are covered!
Think Beyond the Silent Auction
Donating a session to an organization’s auction can be great to get your name out and make new contacts in your area, but it isn’t the only way you can help!
Your photographic skills can be used in a variety of media that an organization may need to secure additional funding from other donors, such as the event programs I mentioned previously.
Other ideas include using your images in brochures, on websites or blogs, and on social media. Having high quality images can boost the organization’s reach tenfold because it will draw others into the cause.
Don’t be Afraid to set your Limits
You may be asked many times to donate to various causes– and– just because you have donated in the past, does not mean you are required to donate again. Maybe the timing isn’t right or you are not in a financial position to donate your services at this time, and that’s ok!
One of the organizations I partner with year-round offers portrait sessions to members of the armed services who are soon to be deployed. Sometimes a request comes in when I am already booked or otherwise cannot commit to the session. Rather than overburden myself, I politely decline the session.
Not only is turning down that specific assignment beneficial for me, but it also ensures that the client receives the best possible work because I know other photographers in the network will be able to take care of them.
The P Word: Passion
Finding an organization to partner with is SO important to ensure that you are committed to the project and won’t feel burnt out by your lack of pay. We each have had different experiences on this great earth, which cause our interests to be incredibly varied. You are the best person to judge your own passion and run after it!
I am committed, both personally and professionally, to raise money for JDRF, the leading global organization that funds research for Type 1 Diabetes. Why? Because I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, and, every day since then, I’ve struggled with the enormous burden of this disease.
In addition to participating in fundraising walks and events, I took it a step further last fall, and organized a day of headshots to raise money. Participants made donations directly to the organization to secure a time slot with me in my studio or outdoors nearby.
Through this event, I was able to make connections with business owners in my market and subsequently booked family sessions from referrals that were sent by those connections.
Not only was my heart full from the donations I received, but my business was happy as well! I’m looking forward to continuing this event this year and beyond.
The main reason I love being in business for myself is the freedom I have to do what I want, which has allowed charitable giving to become a big part of my work. I hope these tips inspire you to partner with and be of service to an organization that speaks to your heart!