Friday, July 17, 2009

Five Tips On Working With Non-Profits

First, let me introduce myself, and tell you what you should expect to read about in my blog postings.

My name is Maria Montano, and I am the Web Mistress for Art for Conservation and Fine Print Imaging. I have first hand knowledge of the non-profit world having served on the board for multiple organizations in the Fort Collins community. I also use my photography as an advocacy tool to help raise awareness in the community on a wide range of issues, from sexual assault to donating images to the Save the Poudre coalition.

My blogs on Art for Conservation will be mostly about two subjects: how to work with non-profits to help raise awareness for the causes you care about, and using the internet to promote your work and those causes.

This first blog will be about taking the first steps toward working with a cause in your community. I have found that a lot of photographers and artists want to help, but don’t know how to get involved. Not only does working with non-profits help them, it is a great way to raise your profile as an artist within the local art community, as well as the broader community that you live in.

Introduce yourself

The first thing that you’ll want to do is call or e-mail the volunteer coordinator; this is generally the person responsible for setting up volunteer opportunities within the organization.
When you show up to your meeting, look professional.

Be respectful of their time. Show up no more than 10 minutes early and never arrive late for your appointment.

Come Prepared

Coming into your first meeting, make sure that you know the basics about what the organization does.

I have found that most organizations don’t know how to effectively use imagery to tell their stories. Have several ideas in mind to propose that would fit with what they do.

You should be ready to present your ideas to the Executive Director, or the Board of Directors. This means explaining how your idea will help raise awareness about what they are doing, planning a timeline for when you expect to have the project done and finally a budget of what it is going to cost them.

Be patient

Patience is a virtue when it comes to working with non-profits. Remember, their first goal is to serve the community and raise awareness about issues, and sometimes they don’t get how using images can help them do those things.

They also have to be careful with their image; working with them may require a lot of meetings, and approval from the board of directors for some of your bigger ideas.

Be persistent

Once you finally get approval of your idea, you will need to be persistent to make it a reality. Ask what resources are going to be made available for you to help you with your project/idea and get important contact information from anyone on staff that is assigned to help you. Most non-profits have a limited staff, so plan to do most, if not all, of the work yourself.

Follow Through

This is the most important part of working with non-profits. They are counting on you to do what you said you would do. They will devote valuable time and resources to your project and expect you to represent them in a positive fashion. You get one chance to make a first impression…make it a good one!

1 comment:

Angela Canada Hopkins said...

Thanks for sharing this article. Recently, I've been thinking of my art containing a message that is related to health and nutrition. This is helpful info to contact the right people. Thanks.