Photographers doing pro-bono work for charities is a long-time tradition. With social media platforms, this marriage of photography and doing good for others has some interesting potential for business. For this post, I want to introduce you to Miguel Pola, www.miguelpola.net and his work for Project Cuddle, www.projectcuddle.org
Piscopo: How did you get involved with the Project’s photography?
Pola: Project Cuddle is a non-profit organization that provides safe and legal alternatives to pregnant teens and women considering abandonment of their newborns. I got involved with Project Cuddle by photographing their annual Dinner by the Bay Fundraiser Gala. Another photographer who originally was to be there contracted me. The following year I asked him if he wouldn’t mind me taking over the event altogether. I felt that was the least I could do for Project Cuddle’s cause.
Piscopo: How do you think a photographer’s commitment to charitable organizations or non-profits can benefit, expand or promote his or her business?
Pola: Supporting a non-profit community organization builds your company’s credibility. Since we have been a part of Project Cuddle’s organization we have been able to increase our target clientele. Many supporters of these organizations are business owners or are involved with corporations that will need services that you may offer, whether they are headshots, a family member who may be getting married or even product photography for a product that they may solicit. In the past we have created fundraising opportunities for Project Cuddle that have raised money for their cause but also increased our bottom line. Affiliating yourself with your organization to give back to them shows you are human and you have compassion. People like doing business with companies who have similarities to themselves.
Piscopo: How do the non-profit you work with best use your photos for their cause?
Miguel Pola: Project Cuddle uses the images that we photograph for them to help build awareness for their cause. They use them for their websites, Facebook page, articles in magazines, slideshows, videos that get presented to thousands of people. They have even used them on several talk shows, “The Talk”, “Jeff Probst Show” to list a couple. With social media being such a part of everyone’s lives, images that get posted to Project Cuddle’s Facebook page get lots of views and become viral when people tag themselves in the images.
Piscopo: What is your best piece of advice for photographers before they start working with non-profits?
Pola: My best advice for someone who is interested in getting involved with a non-profit organization is be yourself, love what you do and pick an organization that you can relate to. If you pick an organization that you connect with, you will be more passionate about the work that you do for them and it will translate into great relationships. Their supporters will notice that. Be sure come up with a mutual agreement of how the photos are used. Having your logo on images should be a must in your agreement.
Piscopo: How do you run a business, make a difference, perhaps even be a photography activist, and still pay the rent?
Pola: Get involved, give back and give it your all. But remember that you are still running a business. Be generous, but also understand that you need to be fair to your business and most of all your family. Even when it comes down to your time!