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Marketing is one of the most important aspects of running a successful photography business. One of the more noble endeavors to increase you photo business is cause marketing. Sponsoring a non-profit event that benefits a charity is a great way to raise funds for a worthwhile organization while you donate your skills as a photographer.

If you’re feeling inspired to give back to your community, here are a few ideas to get you going:

Take Advantage of the Seasons

Halloween, Easter or the December holidays are great times of year to hold portrait sessions for children. These holidays lend themselves to creating memorable shots utilizing costumes, décor and characters. There are so many worthy causes that help our little ones such as reading, health, and more.

See more: How to Give Back as a Photographer

Utilize the Charity’s Events

Most charities hold annual fund raising galas that include silent auctions. Offer to photograph all attendees at the event and donate a gift certificate for your services to the silent auction. You may also want to take out what is called a “journal ad” in their program for the event.

Ask the charity what other businesses may be participating in the event as well as who is taking out ads as well. This will give you insight into what local businesses to reach out to when seeking a partner.

Grab a Partner

Contact other local businesses in your area and ask if they would be willing to donate items such as food (like a bakery for a cake smash session), décor (a local arts and crafts store) or candy from a local 5 and Dime. You could also have service-based businesses, such as spas, donate gift certificates to be used in a raffle or as door prizes.

Create a poster using logos of all businesses donating goods and place it on an easel at the front of your studio. Also use their logos in all promotions for the event such as posters, ads, press releases and your blog. 

In fact, one of the perks with charitable marketing is the PR opportunity that comes along with it. The press is more likely to cover a special event with a charitable theme. Reach out to your local news outlets and tell them about your charity event. It can bring amazing results for both your studio and the charity itself. Also utilize the PR resources that the charity has in-house. Most likely there is a person dedicated to PR on their end. Ask for them to send out their own release mentioning the event and your business.

Add Incentives to Increase the Giving

There are many ways you can structure your charity mini-sessions. 10% of the proceeds for each session can be given to charity. To collect even more funds for your cause, offer to let the customer donate additional monies as they wish. Add incentives such as for every extra $20 donated the customer is entered into a raffle for a free family portrait session.

Set a Time Limit

Another option is to select a finite period during which a percentage of the profits from your business will be donated to your charity. You may want to start small and do 30 days to test the water to see if you can handle the increased work load that the promotion will generate and go from there.

Choosing a Charity

If you specialize in one particular area of photography it should be easy to choose your charity. Pet photographers could be the official photographer for a local animal shelter. Children and family photographers could partner with the PTA from one of the local school districts.

These are just a few ideas for creating a successful charitable marketing partnership. Brainstorm with your business partner, employees, friends and family to generate even more ideas. Each and every person you know has a cause personal to him or her. This mini-session of goodwill can spread exponentially and grow to a maximum opportunity for raising money for a good cause and garnering attention for your business. First and foremost, remember that the goal of the mini-session is to benefit the charity. The rest will fall into place from there. Think “How can I help?” rather than “What’s in it for me?”

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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