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Not For Profit

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The Photographer’s Soul

Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Gustave Flaubert 19th Century French Novelist

Not For Profit

Not for profit sounds like the business I choose to be in. Earn some money and spend it on equipment…(speaking not entirely tongue-in-cheek). It’s a good thing I’m not exclusively profit motivated.

What motivates me is the look on my client’s faces when I hand them the work. I have injected good into the universe. I am driven knowing that my work will most likely survive me, and my subjects. Just a touch of immortality.


I get asked all the time to volunteer for non-profits. Actually, Patty and I enjoy giving back to the community doing volunteer projects. Just last week, we manned a tent for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. July the fourth, we will be working in the “runner’s area” for the Firecracker Run sponsered by the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It gets ticklish when I’m asked to donate my craft. That’s different that donating my time. My craft requires me to be prepared ahead of time, show up with my tools, then put the work into the back end, and finally deliver a product that represents me. Just a little more skin in the game as opposed to making pancakes for the runners or handing out stickers to children going through a health crisis.

Here’s my point. The food vendors get paid. The print and banner people get paid. The tent people get paid. The shirt vendor gets paid. The venue gets paid. The director and organizer get paid. I simply think non-profits shoud consider paying the photographer for her time and work to offset the cost of the tools (camera, lights, website, software) that make professional photographs professional. On my psaltery income, I see my job as impressing the donors, not the donor.

(Sidebar: I work for some non-profits that understand the above and pray that my work reflects my appreciaton to serve these accounts.)

Expert Insight

Hoping that I wasn’t being a total jerk in my thinking I reached out to a highly respected woman in our community who works in the field for her comments. Here is what Heather Kemper with Miriam School had to say.

“Many nonprofits feel ashamed or are shamed when they spend money on anything except for programs, while their counterparts, for-profit businesses, invest in their future and sustainability — and succeed in building their brand! So why should it be different for nonprofits? Investing strategically can enable nonprofits to expand their reach and impact, and that’s what we want, right?”

“Allocating funds towards fundraising initiatives, such as galas, campaigns, and grant applications, can help nonprofits secure financial resources — and help attract new relationships that will, with proper cultivation, create new donors. Investments in marketing and communication efforts can raise awareness about the organization’s cause, — again, attract supporters, and ultimately increase funding. Investing in staff development and training ensures that nonprofits have a skilled and knowledgeable team capable of driving the organization’s growth and attracting additional resources. By viewing money as a tool to advance their mission, nonprofits can unlock new opportunities, deepen their impact, and achieve long-term financial sustainability. It’s time to rethink how we view expenses and nonprofits.”

Heather Kemper is a speaker, fundraiser, advocate and my friend.



That said, while manning the “Base Camp” display for the Crohn’s and Colitis walk I managed to take a few photos for my friend Robin Carr (organizer) working with the budget she was given. Enjoy these photos.

Final Thought

“Life is good and short”. Feel free to quote me. For perspective, my mother and father are in their 90s and live in a different state. I know there is a possibility that the last time we spoke could be the last time we speak. Therefore, I try to live accordingly.

Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

Your friend,

Ps. I’m open to do business with not for profits or non-profits. They do get a discounted rate. You can see some of my event work here.

3 thoughts on “Not For Profit

  1. Thank you for volunteering at the walk. I am grateful for your support. I agree people should get paid for their services unfortunately organizations like mine give a very tight budget for us to work in and I try to give the best experience I can in that budget. One of the areas they feel we can get pictures from peoples cell phones but that is all we get pictures that don’t capture the feeling and essence of the day like a photographer does. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  2. Mike,
    I always enjoy reading your comments. Hope you and Patti are having a good summer.
    We have been pretty busy here. Hope you guys can find time for a visit this summer.

    Ken and Marilyn

    1. Ken – Thanks for dropping in. I will make it a point to drop into Booneville.

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