Photographers and filmmakers looking to partner with nonprofits shouldn’t count on funding from those organizations, a new survey of nonprofits by Blue Earth Alliance suggests. According to the survey, many nonprofits hire professional photographers infrequently, relying instead on images made by staff and volunteers, or on images donated by professional photographers.

The survey was released this past Friday in Seattle at Collaborations for Cause, the annual conference organized by Blue Earth Alliance, a photography nonprofit that provides fiscal sponsorship and other services to documentary photographers. Tim Greyhavens, a photographer and former philanthropy executive who organized the survey, told the conference audience that photographers should consider reaching out to nonprofit organizations with funding already in place, or with proposals to collaborate with the nonprofit to seek funding for a project.

According to Blue Earth Alliance, the purpose of the survey, “was to collect data that would help us better understand the challenges and opportunities facing organizations that depend upon current, compelling images to tell their stories.” The survey also provides insights to photographers interested in partnering with nonprofits on projects.

The survey drew 102 responses from nonprofits of various sizes that are working primarily on environmental and social progress causes. In addition to details about how nonprofits are acquiring photographs, the survey also revealed information about how nonprofits are using photos and what types of photos they need, and also which staff members are responsible for photography.

For example, the survey found “a clear recognition by organizations of the importance of photography in conveying their messages,” and revealed that organizations used an average of 7-15 images a week. Nonprofits were primarily posting those images to Facebook and their own websites. And a majority of them had applied for grants for projects that included photography in the project budget.

Visit the Blue Earth Alliance blog to read more about the survey and to download a PDF of the results.

Related:
Fundraising Advice: Blue Earth Alliance’s Co-founder on Applying for Grants

Nature Conservancy’s Melissa Ryan on Making Impact with Conservation Photos


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