What Is a Photo Fundraiser?

M.C. Huguelet

A photo fundraiser is an event in which a church, a sports team, a charity, or another organization that relies on donations provides a photograph to an individual in exchange for that individual’s monetary donation. Usually, a photo fundraiser is organized in coordination with a photography studio, which provides a short photography session and a print to donors. A photo fundraiser requires little or no initial investment on the part of the fundraising team, allows fundraisers to collect donations upfront, and provides donors with a long-lasting memento. On the downside, photo fundraiser photographers often attempt to persuade donors to purchase photo packages.

Photo fundraisers are often used by youth sports teams.
Photo fundraisers are often used by youth sports teams.

Essentially, a photo fundraiser is an event which provides donors with a brief photography session and a print as an incentive for making a donation. It is coordinated by a donation-dependent organization in cooperation with a photographer or photography studio. Generally, the fundraising team collects donations and provides each donor with a certificate for a photography session. Depending on the terms of the fundraiser, donors can then claim this certificate for a photography session featuring themselves, their families, their pets, and so forth. After the session, the photographer generally provides the donor with one complimentary print.

Photo fundraisers may focus on taking pictures of a person's pet for a small donation.
Photo fundraisers may focus on taking pictures of a person's pet for a small donation.

There are a number of potential benefits inherent to a photo fundraiser. First of all, as most participating photography studios provide their services for free or for a small percentage of the donation amount, fundraising teams are able to keep all or most of the funds they raise. Additionally, donations are usually taken on an upfront basis, eliminating the need to track down donors later. Also, prospective donors may be attracted by the idea that their donation provides them with a memento, rather than a transitory item like a coupon book or a candy bar.

One possible downside to the photo fundraiser is that following a photography session, participating photographers may attempt to pressure donors to buy a package instead of merely accepting their complimentary print. After all, as photographers receive little or no compensation for participating in photo fundraisers, they may see this strategy of “up-selling” donors as a way to reclaim some of their expenses. Fundraising teams that are concerned about this issue may wish to find out in advance whether prospective photography studios intend to try selling packages to donors. They may also simply remind donors that they are under no obligation to buy anything when they collect their complimentary photo.

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