Before you read on, let me ask you something; how many of you volunteer your time? How many of you will get your faces painted, wear a costume, even wear a tutu for a good cause? I don't see a lot of hands; funny thing is I don't see any hands up, since I am staring at a computer screen as I write this.
On a serious note, many of us would simply give the non-profit money and say you did your part, and in a way you did, don't get me wrong. Yes, money can go a long way for a non-profit, or even just a fund raiser for a cause to help with costs, or even as a donation. The one thing many of us overlook when it comes to helping a non-profit, is the most crucial thing they need more than money is your time; time to volunteer, time to help set-up, time to be there and show support.
As a photographer, I know my time is valuable; however giving my time to something I believe in and want to support has had a huge impact to me as an individual, my business and the causes I am helping to support.
Why am I going on about volunteering, well I have been volunteering since I was in my late teens, from when I was a member of the Rotaract Club of Toronto. To the Knights of Columbus in my later years. I am not part of any organization other than the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce. A set of words in which I am not sure I heard or developed myself and I believe in wholeheartedly are:
For those who volunteer without expectation, or reward, good things will come to those! - Unknown
The impact I as a photographer can have on an organizations event is immense, from the sheer outreach of my social media circles, to providing images or video for the non-profit to use on social media. Yes you could have been making money with a paying job, or photo shoot. But let's take a step back for a second before we approach the subject of money. Let me tell you what has happened to me as of late.
I was at my first ever Chamber's meeting and promoted myself as most business to business groups like a Chamber of Commerce is. However, Ryan Kinsella who is a professional at Scotia Bank, held a fund raiser for his son who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis a few weeks later. Without hesitation I asked Ryan if he would like my services at no cost to just be there and photograph their event. He honoured me with being able to photograph the event, and well it was a grand success raising over $27, 000 for CF.
Now let's talk about money, money is a funny thing, it can be derived from selling products, or simply charging for your time. One thing all photographers need is exposure, a reach out to potential clients and customers. Volunteering for the fund raiser, not only allowed me to photograph a great cause, but also helped promote me to family, individuals who I may not have been able to target directly. By volunteering, it has provided me with an influx of leads for family portraits, couples portraits and even another event.
I can still hear you all asking how do you make money from this. I don't make as much as if I were to photograph a family portrait session, or a wedding. However one thing I will say is for a non-profit, or fund raiser to further increase sales and build up their donations. Every event I have photographed, all have had an agreement with me, whereby any sales from either digital images or prints they receive a large portion of that sale as a donation. Which means more residual donations from attendees.
In conclusion, volunteering as a photographer is not only emotionally and spiritually rewarding but the amount of exposure and leads I can gain from a non-profit event is truly amazing. Financially it is not about me making money but more about helping the cause make more money with the skill and talent you have in immortalizing the moments of the event. I may not be able to help out like I used to with the physical, or set-up, but I can certainly provide any non-profit organization with photographic services to help promote their cause.
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