One of my recommended 10 Changes to Make in 2012 (webinar recording available now; e-book coming soon) is to make your communications more visual. 

Why? Visuals can often convey information more quickly than text (you know, a picture is worth a thousand words). That makes a big difference when people are zooming through their inboxes and Facebook feeds. Visuals are also commented on and shared more frequently in social media than words alone.

Here are some easy ways to add more photos to your nonprofit communications -- we'll talk infographics, logos, and video soon.

1. Hiring a photographer to get the shots you need is the best approach. Organizations like PhotoPhilanthropy and CreativeCares can help connect you with photographers.

2. If you need photos that convey an idea or concept, I think has the best search engine for matching photographs with ideas. Their prices have gone up a bit, but they are still affordable, especially if you just need a web quality image.

3. If you want free photos and are willing to spend a little more time searching, try Flickr. If you search with the Creative Commons "By License" filter on, you can use the photos however you like as long as you give credit to the photographer. That usually just means including the URL back to the page on the photo somewhere.

It's not as easy to find images that represent concepts on Flickr, though. Instead, try to think how someone would caption the kind of photo you are looking for. So while you might search "mistake" on istockphoto to find a person making an expression like they've made a mistake, on Flickr, you'll be better off searching on "Doh" or "Ouch" or "Oh No."

4. A series of pictures can tell a story all by itself. You may have seen this album making the rounds on Facebook, sharing the message that people with Downs Syndrome are just like everyone else. The photos are obviously casual, which is part of their appeal.

The TechSoup Annual Digital Storytelling Challenge, which starts today (February 1, 2012), includes a category for a 5-photo slideshow. So even if you aren't ready for video, give that a try instead! Lights. Camera. Help. will be offering tons of training for participants, and if you want a headstart, check out their list of resources.

5. You can also dress up your photographs to promote your cause.  How about creating Facebook cover photos for the new Timeline layout that everyone is getting?

This article appeared in the February 1, 2012 edition of our weekly  Nonprofit Marketing Tips e-newsletter. We hope you'll subscribe!