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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> photography as fundraising event
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11/20/2008 01:45:59 PM · #1
Has anybody ever thought about advertising as a fund raising opportunity to small schools, classrooms, girl scout troops, sororities, etc? Business has been slow lately and we're having a tough time getting our name out behind the 2 or 3 other big name photogs who already have the schools and sports covered. So I'm thinking possibly to try to put together a fund raising plan along the lines of photography that a group could make money from instead of selling magazine subscriptions door to door.

Just as an example, we've talked to an Avon lady of high ranking (whatever that means) who has asked us to come take photos at one of their assembly line type make-up/hair/photo sessions for their customers. Personally, I think that a sorority would go bonkers over doing something like that and raising funds at the same time.

I'd have to be a little more creative with the smaller people. Hey, maybe just have them advertise the fund raiser, show the package prices, collect the money, and set a time for their sitting. Does that sound unethical to call it a fund raiser and have the kids do all the advertising for a one day shooting? I mean, they would be making money for their group and probably 'earning' credit from us for future sittings for themselves.

Sorry if this sounds all over the place. It's coming off the top of my head.

Ultimately, my question is, has anybody ever tried something along these lines? Or is this done regularly and I'm just asking really stupid questions? : )
11/20/2008 02:04:03 PM · #2
I tried this for a small playschool this year... this is what I did

- Set aside two evenings and one weekend day for shooting onsite. PArents who wanted to participate were scheduled into 15 minute blocks
- Our prices were sent out in advance so that parants could see and choose what they want ahead of time...(this also allowed for more shooting time in that 15 min block)
- We would shoot each family or group for 10 mins and take up 5 mins with order taking (I found this worked as they were more likely to spend more having seen the picture they were going to get)
- took check or cash in hindsite a POS machine would have been the say to go to get more orders.
- we settled with the school ahead of time what percentage they would get (after expenses of course)
- took the pictures back, did some minor editing, and sent them for printing
- Delivered packages about 2 weeks later (we not only offered prints, but christmas cards, calendars, etc.)

Hope that helps a bit... I'm planning on expanding the idea and marketing this aswell to see where it goes...
11/20/2008 02:04:34 PM · #3
I have absolutely no experience with either fundraising or photographing professionally, so this is simply my own ramblings added to yours :)

I'd consider this a product just like any of the others that groups use to fundraise; eg. chocolate bars, Christmas ornaments, popcorn, coupon books, etc. You provide the product, he group does the work of selling and the two of you split the sales, pure and simple. I'd suggest having a look at those who provide fundraisers and see what their setup is regarding percentages, etc., focussing on the most successful ones and adapting your product to their model.

I haven't thought too deeply on it but, on the face of it, I can't see why it wouldn't work.
11/20/2008 02:12:20 PM · #4
A photog in our area did a 'fundraiser' by agreeing to buy some computer equipment for the school based on the amount of photo packages sold. The school made out (they got a couple of computers) and the photog got to shoot spring portraits. It seemed like a pretty creative way to get at shooting at an off-season time.
11/20/2008 02:21:16 PM · #5
My local photography club, MMPC, has done a few on site portraits at events to raise money for our club. We have a solid relationship with the Woldumar Nature Center here, and they have lots of events, and we often get involved with them. We normally set up a portrait spot, people stop by and sit for a few shots, sometimes (we often shoot outdoors on the grounds somewhere) runners will run the cards to our printing statiion, throw them on a laptop, quick basic edit, the customers (we tell them to check in at the printing station in like 15 min) check out on the moniter and purchase what print they want, and then print them out. Initially, we had glitches to work out, but each event we do gets better and more streamlined.
11/20/2008 06:12:33 PM · #6
You have to ask several questions...

What is your goal? - to get your name out there, to help a good cause, to make money for you, etc ?

Who are the clients? - are they YOUR type of clients? I do santa/pet pics every year at a pet groomer. (goal:make money and raise money) Folks that can afford to pay $70 to have their pets groomed can afford photography. I've also done a thing at a buffet restuarant on valentines day (goal:to get my name out there). Buffet eaters are budget minded folks and are not the kind of clientele that buy photography.

How much time does this take, and personnell? What will it cost you? The pet thing started as a fundraiser for the humane society and they still benefit from it, but the first year the average sale was $25 and not many showed up - so I might do $200 in a day (4 or 5 hours) and have to pay an assistant, split money with the groomer and give some to the humane society. I made no money. None. This is year 4 and it's a different story altogether. The average sale is $70 and every appointment is booked - 6 per hour. Sunday is the big Santa day - 32 folks booked and Santa day usually ups the average 25%. I'll have two assistants selling that day so my costs are up to about $150 in labor just for them. But sales should be near $2500 for 6 hours of work.

If you partner with someone are you going to shoot there, your place or something else?
Are you insured? things happen, and the busier the place, the more variety of people that come to these things, etc raise more issues along with raising your awareness. Who collects teh money, delivers the product, makes the donation? With the pets I collect the money and give the groomer the pics for delivery - it means the client has to come in to them one more time and it's less work for me - i don't have 100 people coming to my house (and all the calls and directions and running lates that go with that). I cut a check to the groomer than includes their share and the donation. They make the donation. I get to write off the amount I pay the groomer as a cost and they can deduct the donation to the charity.
remember, a donation of TIME is not tax deductible! So if you put a calendar together for a charity your time to shoot, prep, print -whatever- is basically gone.

the real value in anything like this is to get contact info from the folks that attend and use that to market to them - mailings, email - anything like that. Tell them in your marketing what you do - perhaps one of them runs the local soccer league, etc. You never know. My first league took 3 years to get - and a lady shows up at the shoot and hires us to do a baseball league.

11/05/2012 08:40:33 PM · #7
I'm bumping this because it is something I have been approached with today.

A local youth basketball league that I have done team/individual pictures for has approached me and asked if I do any kind of fundraising. I haven't, but have thought about it.

The two ideas I presented were --

We could do it in the form of x% back or x amount from a certain product with team/individual

OR

I could set up a backdrop and do family portraits one day -- kinda like a church directory approach. Families sign up for a 15 minute time slot, come in, take some pictures and the bball program gets a cut from orders placed by a certain time.

Any other fun/creative/lucrative ideas spring up since this thread started in 2008??
11/05/2012 10:30:24 PM · #8
As a somewhat different approach, a friend asked me to take candid photos at a preschool in 2009 as a fundraiser. They framed one 8x10 print of each kid and held a gallery event for the parents to purchase. It was a huge success, and they asked me to do it again in 2010 with the same results. Hard to miss with toddlers if you're patient... or so I thought. The preschool went with a different photographer last year and it was a disaster, so I was back again a few weeks ago. If you can pull it off, everyone benefits. You can rapidly build a portrait portfolio since little kids in their element are invariably cute, several parents have sought me out for private portrait sessions, and you can sell outtakes, too.
11/06/2012 05:34:15 AM · #9
Fundraising is a natural extension of being out there with a camera, whether professionally or as the default "community photographer".

Both of your ideas will work. There are just a handful of things to take into consideration:
1) Do not go into it expecting to make any money or to get any real tax deduction. Go into it knowing that you are truly giving of your time and talent.

2) Make sure people know that they are supporting the cause. Of course you want to collect contact info and to make sure that people know they can get in touch with you for whatever else you do, but that should be secondary. The main thing is to promote the event/opportunity to support the cause.

3) Keep it simple and scale your efforts to the fundraising goal. If the target audience is going to expect to pay $5-10, you are going to have to shoot A LOT and you are going to have to keep the moving parts and setup/breakdown to a minimum. If they are expecting to pay $50-100, you might want to make sure they are getting their money's worth (this is probably why Shannon got asked back).

Along these lines, think about setting up a "giving back" mechanism for anything you shoot that falls under the category of "community photography". For me, this means either stuff my kids or family is involved in (church, sports, scouting, school), or things that naturally attract me and my camera (festivals, parades, etc). I simply promote the give-back and make sure people know how to find the photos I take.

The Big "However"...

If you are approached to help with a major fundraising effort, do not blindly say yes and agree to completely give away your goods and services. If all the other vendors are providing everything for free (ie, the catering services and food are all donated, the band is playing for free, the printing is donated, the advertising is donated), then, if you feel you can really support the cause, you might consider going all-in and donating your services. On the other hand, if there is money to pay the other vendors, it is only fair that you should be paid, as well.

It's one thing if all you have to do is show up with a camera and snap some candids. It's a completely different animal if you are asked to set up a "photo booth", requiring one or more lights, a backdrop, etc, etc. Setting up, operating, and breaking down a portable studio - as well as organizing and processing the images - isn't a trivial undertaking.

This situation is no different than being offered the opportunity to come shoot an event on spec, with the promise and hope of making some money on print sales. You have to go into these situations not expecting to make anything and you have to make your decision based on whether the situation warrants your giving what you are being asked to give...
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