May 29 2009

Growing Your Photography Business by Partnering With Nonprofits

Published by at 5:11 am under Business

Here are several ways to help nonprofits with your photography skills:

1. Local Calendar. For two years, I took photography of children in our area with Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes and built a calendar which was both sold to generate funds, and given away to generate awareness. The calendars were very good communication vehicles for the Foundation. I had a plug on the back of the calendar, and was featured in TV and newspaper spots both in my local area and globally. I also received follow-on business from some of the families of the children.

2. Gala photography. For several years, I captured formal images of people who attended the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) annual gala and sent them complimentary prints on behalf of the foundation. This allowed the Foundation to extend their message of thanks and mission through the delivery of the photographs, and it also put me in touch with well-connected people in my community.

3. Sponsor a Team. For several years, my daughter has had a walk team for JDRF. I cover most or all of the cost of the team T-shirts and I put my business logo on the back. Each year, I end up with dozens of walking billboards, worn by and seen by potential photography customers all around our area.

4. Agency Graduation Ceremony. I worked with a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility to capture images of their client graduation ceremony. This was a very moving event. I produced images for the clients and the agency, whose board of directors are also well known community leaders. This led to #5.

5. Benefit Race Photos. I photographed pre-race, race course, finish line and awards for a local race that benefited the agency in #4 above. I posted the images for sale on my gallery and shared the revenues with the agency. The images were also released to the nonprofit for them to use in event marketing and promotion. This also led to getting more sports work for another sporting event, which will result in additional visibility and revenue.

6. Silent Auctions. Whenever anyone approaches me to support a nonprofit event with a donation, I always provide a certificate for a session and some number of prints. I accompany the certificate with a framed print to show my work. These sessions almost always result in more business from the winners, great event revenue for the nonprofit, and great visibility of my business to the supporting community.

7. Hold Third Party Benefit Events. My wife and I are holding a midwinter food party called “Bean Day” to raise funds for the our local Food Bank. This fun event will generate lots of publicity for the agency. Any increase in community exposure that we receive from this event may help promote my business. I’m finding some low-key ways to feature my photography to help the event, such as creative images for the web site.

Serve Their Needs First

In any nonprofit support event, serve their needs first. Achieve their goals of support, fund raising and message communication, and your benefits will naturally follow. If you have opportunities to get your brand out there, by all means do so, but not at the expense of the nonprofit and their mission.

I encourage all photographers to identify nonprofits that they would be proud to partner with, and approach them with opportunities to help further their goals. Your efforts will be appreciated, and your business will benefit from the exposure and additional business.

John Huegel is a photographer in the Erie, Pennsylvania area who specializes in Seniors, Dance Studio, Families and other groups. He is active in many charitable and volunteer activities in the Erie area. His work can be seen at

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