Non-Profit Organizations and Photography, The Relationship


Including photography and the visual record as a component to any non-profit grant proposal is essential. It is good for the organization and good for the photographer.

When used effectively, photography is a key element to assessing the effectiveness of the grant. In addition, great images will demonstrate a methodology of how to replicate the outcome of the grant for future recipients. The photographs will act as the grant’s proof of outcome in terms easily understood by contributors, donors and the general public.

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In addition to the assessment value of the photography, the images will provide public relations uses in a two-fold manner. The first being value would be directed at the organization receiving the grant. Those images will be used for fund raising campaigns, news releases and archive. The second is for the foundation providing the funding. It would give the foundation access to professional images of their money at work. Image uses could be contracted and budgeted for at the time of proposal to include uses such as capital campaigns, print, web or other marketing.

The competitive nature of foundation grant writing requires expert skills and experiences. Why, when big dollars are at stake, would you skimp on the permanent visual record and not send a professional to document? An organization must have a collection of compelling images to continue to raise money. People buy (or donate) based on pictures. When a portion of the budget within a grant proposal is earmarked for professional imagery the expectation of obtaining free or discounted photography disappears while the expectation for excellent photography increases. There is a budget and a great return on the money will be shown when hiring a professional. Gone are the days when an organization can simply send employee, a non-photographer with a digital SLR, to capture snapshot images to include with a grant proposal, a professional proposal needs professional compelling imagery.

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Some benefits for the photographers include ownership in the overall project, input in directing how resources are used in terms of images, provide an additional and visual perspective to the overall project. A photographer, by not simply acting as a contractor but rather as an influential, responsible and important member of the organization the value and worth of the photographer and the imagery is elevated.

Working out the contractual arrangements in advance allow the photographer to protect their copyright by providing compensated, exclusive or non exclusive uses to the organization for specified lengths of time. The upfront agreement allows the creativity of the documentary photographer to capture the compelling and selling imagery with no reservations. This is a place for the professional documentary photographer.

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