View Full Version : Who's done work for a non profit organisation?
I may have the chance to do some documentary photography for a non profit organisation that employs down syndrome people for work. I approached them because I thought it would be a worthwhile project and they have asked me to come in for a chat. I think they may be interested.
While my intent is certainly not to make a profit from doing the shoot, time is money and I still got rent and bills to pay like everyone else. I would love to hear from the people who have been in this situation before and how it panned out.
I'm sure there's a million ways it could be done, so some things might work out better than others.
I've done work with Doctors Without Borders, World Vision and International Child Aid. In each of these cases I worked on a story that eventually ran in a magazine. In each of these cases I received a fair bit of help and co-operation from the non-profit.
If you approached them to do a project and you expect their co-operation then they would expect to use the photos for their purposes if the wanted. I wouldn't think any money would be involved.... after all they're doing you a favor.
Now if they called you to do the work, then you could get paid... but you did mention that you approached them.
I'm sure other people have had other experiences.
Tread carefully here.
I applaud your wanting to do work for charity. I've done a bit myself. That said . . .
When you already have a long personal history with a particular organization you will likely be valued quite differently than if you don't.
It may seem petty, but it's happened to me and to others I know who have felt amazingly underappreciated for their time and talent by the charity. Sometimes it really seems that people value you in direct proportion to what they are paying you!
Rule Number One of volunteer work is that you have to treat it as a job, which means showing up and being reliable rather than canceling at the last minute because some "real" work has shown up.
It is highly likely that there is no tax benefit for you as a volunteer, so take this into account. Be sure to ask for out-of-pocket (and keep receipts) expenses.
As for using the resulting work . . . this can be very tricky! The organization may or may not have already identified and obtained releases from some of the children's families or guardians for the purpose of documenting their work. It is likely that there are real restrictions on precisely where and how those images can be used.
If you are expecting to create a book and sell it, that's likely not going to happen as getting permission for that will be very tricky.
I am not intending to discourage you in any way! Do the shoot, you will learn a lot, you will grow as a person you will grow as a photographer and you will do a good thing. It will feel great to use your time and talent to benefit others. Just have your eyes open as you go in!
They have usually paid for film, processing, and a small bit for my time. Ya ain't gonna get rich, but it's worthwhile, appreciative work.
My experience has been similar to Joe's.
I work with a local land conservancy and a horseback riding program for special needs kids. This usually amounts to donating my images for their newsletters and fundraisers. On occasion, I've done specific shots at their request.
Because I benefit from both of these organizations, I never charge for any of my efforts.
I have sold a number of landscape photos as a result of my association with the conservancy. I always provide image files free for the parents of the special needs program.
Obviously, you can only give so much of yourself to these sorts of things. I limit the time I spend and count on the Karma as compensation.
There's an article in American Photo on working with NGOs and also has names of organizations you might apply to for a grant which can support your project.
This has been something I've been thinking about as well - spend a few weeks a year taking photos for a worthwhile organization which could also become a long-term photo project.
My experience has been that these things take time and you have to get to know the organization the people they work with and be clear about your intentions and sometimes the latter isn't possible until you are in the field and experiencing it first hand (and every situation has been different for me). I work with several and i have found it to be a very rewarding and humbling experience.
i used to work for the Boys and Girls clubs...
i honestly dont think you would be making any money doing this, most of the things like this falls under volunteering.
i think the least is you can write it off during tax time.
I'm on a long-term with an NPO. I've given a great deal of time (and a not inconsiderable amount of money) to this organization in the past and with this project I have my own agenda as well as theirs as I work through it.
What is in it for you besides the opportunity to take some photographs of people and situations that you might otherwise never get near?
I think the thing that takes time in these situations is a build up of mutual trust - trust between you and the subjects you photograph, you and NGO and then you and the public in how you then choose to raise public awareness. A delicate balance at the best of times.
Gaining access to the projects that interest you is one thing - successfully raising public awareness and being able to maintain the integrity and dignity of the subjects within your photographs is paramount for me. Making money from it to pay bills or setting against Tax doesn't really figure in it for me.
And as everyone has said, you'll pretty much have to finance your own project. You can't write off anything during tax time, unless you donate the equipment or anything else you use during the documentary to the non-profit organization you're dealing with.
Sometimes you can deduct your travel expenses, but you'll have to check with the organization on how other volunteers do it.
Trust is the big word here that everyone mentions for a reason. The organization will probably want to make sure that you are not going to hurt them in some way.
I even had to come up with a contract for their protection. I did state in it, though, that ALL of the rights to the photos are mine and that I'll let the organization use my photos, but that they will give me credit for it. I also included in the contract that I can use these images and the organization's name when I display the images or if I use them in my portfolio, print or exhibit any time in the future.
I hope this helps somewhat.
As the grandfather of a Down Syndrome girl, who unfortunately died at the age of 10, I would like you to consider my experience as a P.R. [public relations] volunteer with the Red Cross while in college at The University of Texas at Austin over 60 years ago, where I raised roughly $70,000 for the Red Cross but never received even a thank you from them...
And here's why:
In interviewing a Red Cross worker in Austin for an interesting story to tell, they told me of a man who told them he had pawned his prosthetic leg in a Houston pawn shop -- several hundred miles away -- and had been promised a job in Austin if he had his leg...The Red Cross quickly phoned the pawn shop and had the leg shipped to Austin...
I thought it was a great P.R. item, so I wrote it up and showed it to the Red Cross worker, who instantly said something like, "No, no, no...you can't invade the privacy of our clients like that!.''
So, beware...especially with someone as sensitive as a Down's child...They may look different, in a way, but they are beautiful in their own way and extremely friendly and very open to strangers...And volunteer agencies that deal with them are extremely protective and MAY allow you to take photographs but may NEVER allow you or anyone to display any of them without getting authorization from any number of people...
I only have best interest for the people I may be photographing. I guess money is not really the issue, just trying to find a balance for what is fair. This is all great advice and it will help me when going in for an interview. Love hearing people's experience. Keep it coming.
I know this issue can be a grey one for a lot of photographers. My intentions are good, and if I get access to something most people can't I will be happy. Then as most people are saying here is to work out image rights and usage with the client. It would be nice if I could get my film and processing paid for too.
I'm shooting regularly for the microfinance department of the bank I work for. I'm paid nothing for this, though I do get my expenses (travel, food) refunded. I do this for free because it's the way I want to contribute to this cause. Further, I gain a ton of experience shooting to an assignment, under time restrictions, under pressure; experience I would otherwise never gain. I've learned much. My photos have been published in their news letter. One of these days I'll be doing a shoot at the Minstry of Foreign Affairs. Who knows who I'll meet there. The other photog once had the opportunity to shoot an event with our Princess Maxima, so maybe I'll have an opp to shoot some Dutch celebs one of these days too. :)
That photog and I have raised the issue of copyright ownership and such. The department had not thouht about those things at all. Now they are aware of it and we're trying to find some common ground. If all else fails the dep could perhaps offer to buy us out for 80 euro per hour, the standard rate the bank pays for photogs. But this is not my aim.
Because of this work, I've met a few interesting people and some people who may be able to help me this way or that in the future.
Every shoot you do will have benefits that can't or won't translate into money. Consider what you want, what you may gain, your reasons for doing this. Then see what the org has to offer, and what you have to offer them. Find common ground. Talk about the issues where you want a better "deal". How far you push things (and thus perhaps risk your relationship with this org) is up to you.
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