How NGOs can use the images that Photographers produce! (5 ideas)
[May 20, 2010]
Have you visited any NGOs websites lately? What about other non-profit organizations? Have you found anything interesting? Aesthetically pleasing? How about their photographs? Do you think the non-profits are really putting their voice/cause out there in a way that causes you to engage only with visiting their website? Do you think that’s necessary for them nowadays?
We all know that NGOs, non-profits, and charities, are important, not because of what they can display on their website, but for what they can do on the “field”. There’s where the need is, isn’t it? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the voice of that cause is not getting out, how is it going to last? What’s going to happen with what they have built?
Jeremy Courtney, CEO from the Preemptive Love Coalition, a non-profit organization working in Iraq, had some comments about this issue in our first 10.Q Interviews. He said some things that were Spot On. Let me share a few of them:
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
“Many NGOs don’t necessarily know what to DO with an image that they value immensely so that it will bring about a monetary return that will justify having spent hard-earned donor dollars on the photographer/image.
…not knowing how to leverage a phenomenal photo into funding for the people we exist to serve. Many organizations have great photos on their hard drives. Big deal. If an NGO doesn’t have someone dedicated to marshaling photographic fodder into a targeted message and call to action, then the NGO is no better off for having paid for (or simply snapped themselves) the highly impact-full photo.
So let me go out on a limb here for this photographic community. If you want smaller NGOs to pay for your services as a photographer, I’d guess many, if not most would be more willing to invest in the photographer who can help us take the beautiful image after all is said and done and leverage that photo into funding. The photographer with the biggest social network, direct mail list, blog following, and the best strategies to help me do that is the photographer who gets my organizational money.” [read more on Jeremy’s comments]
Motivated by these words, today I want to speak to the NGOs, charities, and non-profits and give them some ideas on what to do with good photographs. How they can improve/boost their marketing by using good imagery. Please, photographers, feel free to borrow these ideas and present them to your clients. We can all benefit by doing this, can’t we?
First of all, I want to thank some photographers that have shared ideas and thoughts, on how to promote the work of NGOs through photography, by doing that we hope NGOs would be more open to hire good photographers. These ideas have been tested and they have worked!. Thanks to: Gary S. Chapman, Matt Powell, Mario Mattei, and Karl Grobl. These guys responded to an Open Letter that I wrote for NGOs and Humanitarian Photographers.
So let me give you some ideas. Let’s start.
Idea number 1: Start a photo blog and try to publish big photos.
You can share what the Boston Globe has done to share the latest news through only and most exclusively, photography! It’s called The Big Picture. Gary S. Chapman commented that he has challenged those organizations to track the website stats for a few moths to see if the well-tagged and captioned images don’t bring in additional traffic to their main site. He added: “Consistent blogs that are well crafted ALWAYS bring more traffic.”
Idea number 2: Go for Brochures!
Not a new idea, is it? But, what if this time we make it with good images; images that can captivate the viewer and make the people actually read the brochure. You can describe the benefits, services, donation opportunities, and values of their organization. Karl Grobl said, “Brochures are probably not cheap to produce, so it makes sense that if you spend lots of money on brochures, you really need good high quality images.”
Idea number 3: Make an Event,
An exhibit or art gallery per se. Gather all the important people that you want to support your wonderful initiative, and amaze them with a good photo essay projected on the wall. Have prints hanging everywhere, with a video and photography that can summarize what you do on the field. Invite the photographer behind the shots, so that he also invites his own fans to participate on your initiative. Invite the press don’t forget about them!
Karl Grobl told me: “Remember Compelling imagery is powerful… Do you remember Steve McCurry’s Afghan girl? That single photo raised millions of dollars. Here’s a quote from National Geo, “As soon as people saw the story, they asked what they could do to help. National Geographic put up money and matched the funds that were sent in. We’ve raised, I think, more than a million and a half dollars for the cause so far.” You see, a picture is worth a million words, and perhaps a million dollars!”
Idea number 4: Tell Stories! According to successful humanitarian photographers, “It all comes down to story, not pictures. Putting pictures ahead of a good plan can be wasteful. Great pictures aren’t enough. What story are you telling? Who are you telling it to? Does it speak well to that audience? Then, what are you asking them to do?” Think about creative ways to tell your stories, to let the people know why is so that your cause is so important.
Idea number 5: Make a Book! Nobody would reject a nice looking coffee-table book. At least I won’t! These books are very popular and people don’t get tired of buying them. There main purpose is decoration, so try to make multiples designs, colors, textures, stories, etc. At the moment, I’m working for a client and helping them to create their first book. It’s not about their project, but the people they work with. I’m planning to travel to the locations where they currently work and shoot portraits of the people there. You see, nothing fancy, but always compelling to see!
Those are just some ideas to keep you busy for a while. I will try to post others in the coming weeks or maybe some other topics that can help to promote your world-saving initiative. Your work deserves the best, so please invest in it. Hire a good and smart photographer who can help you to meet your vision.
““If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
One last thing – don’t underestimate social media. Bring people around through social media, and then people will hear when your tree falls.