Angela Crist

Self-proclaimed “recovering nonprofit CEO, Angela Crist, joins us again to talk about the importance of professional photography. ~Kristina

Guest Post by Angela Crist

Have you ever pulled back on a marketing piece to avoid scrutiny for “spending too much on marketing”?

Do you have a beautifully designed and written website filled with cell phone pics?

Are you using the same five tired photos in every one of your marketing pieces?

If you suffer from one or more of these conditions, kindly follow me to the website of your favorite professional photographer.

For it is photography that will be your secret weapon in creating powerful marketing pieces that don’t look too expensive.

4 Reasons To Invest in Professional Photography

As super humans charged with telling the world about your work with little-to-no budget, photography should be your #1 ally. Here’s why:

1. Most people won’t or can’t see the difference between professional and cell phone pics. But they WILL have a different experience with your communication when it’s peppered with targeted, curated photos. You go from “Oh, that event happened. Next.” to “Wow! I want to be a part of that!” really quickly with the right images.


Also, if you’ve got an audience that raises an eyebrow at spending money on marketing, this is where you can skirt the issue. Deepen your message with good photography and chances are they won’t know if you spent money on it or not. Get the power you need without a whiff of unrestricted funds.

2. The expression about a picture being worth 1,000 words is cliché for a reason. It’s true! Tell your story in raw, bold and endearing terms without having to write a single word. Save that precious text space for the link to your donation page and let the real emotions of your mission tell their own story.

But here’s the catch. You probably aren’t going to get that emotional appeal by the showing washed out faces or distant shots. Think about the projects that take professional pictures of pets that need adopting and *POOF* they have homes.


The quick shots of those same pets couldn’t even come close to giving the same impression of the pet. A good photographer will get those 1,000 word shots, making your organization or cause the one people pay attention to.

3. We are visual creatures. Good photos will stop our social media scroll, get us to read a flyer and spend more time on a website. Even a small investment in solid mission-focused photography is going to put more eyeballs on your stuff because when it comes to good photos, we can’t even help ourselves.

If you’re going to invest the time into social media, email, web, print… make the whole investment! Put a solid image on it so it cuts through all the visual noise your audience has to sift through. Make it easy for them to connect and want to send their dollars your way.

4. Creativity drives creativity. Be honest. You’ve avoided creating a new graphic or page because you didn’t have the photography to support it. And if you have to use that same tired pic from the volunteer picnic in 2008 again, you’ll have no hair left.

When you know you have a stock of mission-centered images on hand, you’ll search for ways to get them in front of people. At that point you’re not just making better marketing pieces, you’re making MORE better marketing pieces, further justifying any cost.

“But the Budget…”

I get that if you’re doing nonprofit marketing, budget is always going to be potential barrier. “I can take nice pictures with my phone and a photographer is so expensive,” you say.

You’re not wrong. With all the fun filters and tools out there, you can make some pretty sweet images yourself. And they are useful for lots of channels.

But if you really want to set your messaging apart, and do it in a way that won’t lead to Concerned Donor calling about your use of funds, invest in solid photography. The emotional response you seek will be there without anything that Concerned Donor will flag as “too expensive.”


Start Small, But Definitely Start

What if we think of professional photography as a capital improvement for your communications?

Just like you won’t build a new facility in few weeks, it may take a few years to build your photo library.

You invest in a website. And then maybe a brochure. You develop a social media presence. An email campaign. You write beautiful, emotive prose and wrap it in professional-looking branded design. It all takes time, creativity, funds.

And then you fill them with distant, pixilated cell phone pics?

This is the marketing equivalent of putting raisins in cookies. For the love of all, stop ruining perfectly good desserts and marketing pieces!

You don’t have to replace it all once, but if you’re trying to create emotional connection with your audience (and chances are, if you’re in nonprofit, that’s exactly what you’re trying to do), get yourself a photographer.

Start with a day or event. Work those images through your social media and website. See how people respond to them and then keep building.

With a few investments into the visual story of your organization in skilled hands like yours, you’ll quickly see a difference in how people engage with your message. With not a complaint about professional printing or paper quality.

Angela Crist is a nonprofit content marketing specialist with a special affinity for digital media. She is a recovering nonprofit CEO and a general marketing geek. You can visit her website at

Read more tips and advice on nonprofit photography from Nonprofit Marketing Guide and our guest bloggers.

Published On: March 22, 2018|Categories: Video, Graphics, Photography and Other Visuals|