How to Host a Photographic Charity Fundraiser

Hosting a fundraiser is a great way to give something back to the community, to network with community members and raise awareness about pressing local issues. 

1. Theme
Choose a relevant theme. Having a variety of images will appeal to a wider variety of bidders than having one specific theme throughout. 30-50 photos will be comprehensive enough to do the theme justice, and will be enough to raise a few thousand dollars for a local non-profit.

2. Beneficiary
Decide to whom you want to donate the proceeds. Be sure to invite the beneficiary to the fundraiser and to give representatives from the non-profit a chance to raise awareness about the work they are doing. This will enable community members who attend the fundraiser to know how they can be involved.

3. Location
Decide how large of an event you want to organize. If you have plenty of time on your hands, get in touch with local art galleries and see if it is possible to host your fundraiser there. A lower-key option is to host the fundraiser at home. This option is easier to prepare and gives the auction a less formal atmosphere.

4. Timing
A few weeks is plenty of time to prepare for the fundraiser. The first steps involve selecting and printing the photos. Have the photos printed on particle board, which is both cost-effective and elegant. Once you have finalized the location and the event is roughly a week away, it is a good idea to send an invitation out to friends and family. 

5. Pricing options
There are a variety of ways that you can price your photos for the fundraiser. Regardless of which option you choose, it is a good idea to discretely sign each of the prints so that the winning bidders receive a more individualized product.

  • a. Set prices – Have the photos for sale for a set price. Perhaps $50 or $100 each, depending on what your guests are likely to be willing to pay. The cost of prints can vary widely from country to country. If you are in the US, is a good service to consider. After creating an account, you can order 10”x15” prints for less than $7/each.
  • b. Silent auction – If you want the bids to be confidential you can have guests write their bids on individual sheet of paper with their contact information. The downside of this is option is that contacting the winning bidders can be very labor intensive; calling each winner individually and arranging a time for them to pick up and pay for their prints. If confidentiality isn't a pressing concern, you can place a bidding sheet beside each photo and have guests write their names and bids.
  • c. Live auction – This option is the most exciting for raising money. An auctioneer (hopefully someone who is confident with a voice that carries well) goes from photo to photo and guests speak up when they are willing to pay the auctioneer’s price. The crowd can get extremely excitable during a live auction so make sure to choose an auctioneer that can handle a crowd and keep the atmosphere light and fun.
  • d. Hybrid – have a hybrid silent/live auction. During the silent auction, guests write down their bids to determine the starting bid for the live auction. When the live auction starts, the guests know which photos they are interested in and they have a relative idea of what photos will likely cost.

6. Payment
After the winning bids have been determined, it’s time for the winning bidders to pick up their photos. The easiest way to handle the payment is for someone to collect all of the bidding sheets, and have the winners pay for the photos immediately after the auction. The amount of money you raise depends on the quality and number of photos you print, the guests that attend and pricing option you choose. 

Organizing a charity fundraiser with your photos can be an amazingly rewarding experience. It is a great opportunity to engage with your community, celebrate with your friends, and gain exposure as a photographer while giving back to a worth-while non-profit. Most importantly, have fun!

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