Few photographers are comfortable asking for donations to support their projects. Fundraising expert Dianne Debicella, program director at Community Partners in LA (and formerly senior program director at Fractured Atlas), reminds artists that they’re not begging. She explains why confidence is so important when asking potential donors for money:
“You have to frame [the pitch] with confidence and clarity: ‘This is exactly what I ąm doing, and this is why you should be involved. So I ąm offering you this opportunity.’ This isn’t about begging, and this isn’t about handouts. This is about [asking people to] become part of your project and support it, and about you not coming across as, ‘I’m sorry to bother you, and this is something I feel embarrassed by.’ Nobody is going to want to give if you ąre acting shy about it, or if you ąre acting as if you ąre doing something wrong.
“[Try] to seed a network in order to prep [potential donors] by saying, ‘I’m going to be doing this project, and I’d love to send you more information about it.’ Or you might say, ‘I’m really excited about this work that I’m producing. Can I share some of it with you?’ That gives you an introduction, and the ability to make that ask down the road.
“If you’re sending out a request by email or snail mail, and you are uncomfortable saying, “Please give me $1,000,” you can say, “If you donate $25, it will help me buy five rolls of film. If you donate $50, that will pay for one hour of darkroom time. If you donate $250, that is going to help me pay for a lighting kit rental.”
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