Nine photo tips for nonprofit storytelling

in Storytelling

Examples - photos of people without seeing their face

Examples of action photos where we can't either see or recognize their faces

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, hopefully you’ve figured out that I’m a HUGE fan of stories and storytelling for nonprofits.

Stories and appeals can be enhanced with photos. A recent article in FundraisingSuccess was on this very topic, “Telling Stories With Photos.”

The author – Pamela Barden – shared six tips to help your charity or association raise more funds through photos:

Keep a camera handy – you never know when the opportunity for a great photo will present itself. Smartphones may not yield results of high enough quality.

Think about how you’ll use the photo – in a newsletter, direct mail letter, on your web site, etc. In what media will people view it? And zero in on what’s most important when composing the photo.

Get better at taking photos – Pamela gave a terrific yet simple suggestion: Search on a phrase such as “picture taking improve” to find several helpful websites to improve your skills. Including how to compose a photo and the rule of thirds.

Get permission – If you want to publish a photo of someone, you need a written release. On the other hand, if viewers can’t see their face, then this permission isn’t necessary (e.g., from the back; only their eyes peering over a book).

Keep good records – Develop a system so you can easily find what you need when you need it.

Digitize older, historic photos – Doing this will save storage space as well as making it easier to find what you need when you need it. And it’s also possible to edit and crop digital photos with ease.

In addition to the tips from FundraisingSuccess, I’ll add three more:

Avoid stock photos like the plague

Get candid shots – people in action whenever possible – and avoid posed shots. Especially avoid the dull yet infamous “grip and grin” style of photos (e.g., two people standing there shaking hands and holding an award). Candid photos are FAR more interesting to viewers, and more effective for your fundraising.

As much as possible tie the “action” to your mission. For example: Bringing medicine to a remote village? Show someone receiving a shot (an injection of medicine).

In one way or another, I believe the right photos will help any nonprofit – charity or association. And don’t hesitate to test them in new ways.

For example: I’m working with a new client who said, “Our donors are very visual. In fact, our newsletter magazine is great for fundraising because they love all the photos.” That’s why I’m having them test the addition of a photo to their direct mail letters.

Our society is becoming more visual. Photos can help you raise more funds. Photos can improve and enhance your storytelling. Test and discover all the ways your nonprofit can benefit from sharing photos with your supporters.

Related posts:

Charity photos that GRAB you without using tears

Nonprofit web design: The risky dominance of images

Storytelling for Nonprofits – Why it works

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