Contributing to a non-profit

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by gossamer, Jul 10, 2019 at 3:20 PM.

  1. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm an amateur photographer and have been participating (volunteering) in a non-profit for a few years without any specific role other than to help improve the visibility of the non-profit through my pictures.

    I attend their events and chronicle, or build a story through my pictures, and post them to the group's social media pages. Although there are plenty of people taking pictures of these events with their cellphones, I believe I'm responsible for much of the visibility of the group, and believe it's resulted in more people joining the group and existing members to feel like they have a connection with the event even though they may not have been able to attend.

    I never really wanted to do it for the money, but increasingly feel like I'm not being recognized for the hard work I put into this in the same way the social media person is, for example, or even one of the board members.

    What role does a photographer typically play within a non-profit? Are they typically part of the marketing team? Perhaps they're just hired on a per-event basis for a fixed rate only?

    I don't want to make it sound like I'm indispensable, but I volunteered from the beginning, at a time before the group had no members and no money. It's now more than two years later, and I don't feel like I'm getting the recognition for the work I've done.

    Of course they all still love my work, but I deserve some kind of role within the organization, particularly if I'm doing it for free, like everyone else.

    Of course I could quit or request to be paid instead, but I'm hoping someone has some ideas on how they've worked with non-profits in the past.


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think your first step should be to tell the board how you feel. I do this sort of work for a couple of groups, one is a national charity (Wounded Warriors Canada); I'm treated as the equal of the other media folks, have a voice in what goes on, how we tackle various issues. Another is a small, local foundation which, unfortunately is on its last legs due to mismanagement. The issue with this group is that they don't understand how valuable imagery is to a cause, and in particular, how valuable professional imagery is. With this second group, half the time they don't use more than 1-2 images, and then only in random facebook posts... I tried to be more active, but gave up.

    So, in answer to your question: It depends on the group. A well run group, large or small will understand the value of your contribution and seek your input and give you as much responsibility as you want to take on; a poorly run one? Well, you know what happens there.
     
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  3. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your help, as always. I don't think they realize the value of the imagery, even though they continually complement me on it. It's all transactional - they ask me to shoot an event, are then amazed with the pictures I post, but then that's it until the next time they need me.

    The problem is that if I were to go to the board, it would have to be with a purpose - I must have some idea of what I want from them before going to them. It's also more involved than that, because there must also be some level of education to convince them of my worth - convince them the imagery is valuable. I'm not sure I can do that (I'm not sure they care enough, or would ever value it enough).

    It's a 2000-member group, but there also is currently no marketing or real management of digital media. There's no marketing outreach. They have a social media person, but she just posts to facebook and manages their facebook groups and posts their events to their facebook pages.
     
  4. JonFZ300

    JonFZ300 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Honestly it sounds like you already have this figured out. Unless you think your work for them is serving some greater good and them not appreciating you is the price you pay to serve that greater good, I'd just quit and find something else to do. If you have to ask somebody to care about or recognize your contribution, what does that say about the organization?
     
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  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    One thing that you could do (and I would strongly encourage you to) is to sit down with the social media director and the other "management" and show them how they're missing out. Give them a presentation on the value of imagery; posters, advertising, etc. It's one thing to create a great image, but it's a whole 'nother to be able to do it in such a way that the image is viable as advertising (accounting for text, etc).

    This is a common problem with a LOT of organizations today; people are so used to being inundated with cell-phone snaps that they forget that real, commercial imagery is still critically important. Think... Nike, Chanel...
     
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  6. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I agree, and have indeed thought myself that they just don't care about it enough. I should have also mentioned previously that it's currently an all-women group.

    I didn't go so far to actually say it here because I'm still wondering in some ways if this is my responsibility, as well as because I don't think they know enough to come up with something on their own.

    Given that I can't really think of what the role would be myself, I'm pretty sure they don't have any idea either.

    Further complicating this, my wife is the Director of Finance, and it's an all-women group.

    I also agree a presentation is a really good idea, but to what end? If I do that, what am I eventually asking for?

    As far as the content of the presentation, certainly some of the most popular pictures I've taken would be good, but I'd think it would be part of a bigger "outreach" position. They have people to manage subscribers at the events, and to coordinate the events themselves, but no one to actually perform any kind of outreach.
     
  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    From reading your posts, it seems that your main goal is for official recognition at the very least.

    Additionally, being paid certainly wouldn't hurt, and would boost your ego and your marketability for other jobs.

    A "non-profit" is not "non-money", and from what I can gather, some non profits actually pay themselves quite handsomely. Why not ask for a significant amount of money? I would structure your fee as; per session, and per photographs provided, not only for what is published. You get the money for all of your work even if they publish only one or two of your photos.

    If they decline your offer, then you have just freed up a bunch of time that you could use earning money.
     
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  8. Original katomi

    Original katomi No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As others have said sit and chat to them even make up a history of what you have done in the past, maybe put comments on the pics eg photos taken and provided by insert name
     

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