Frank Lazaro helped organize Help-Portrait Atlanta last year, which had eight locations. Here he shares some tips on how to approach nonprofit organizations in your area about partnering and hosting your Help-Portrait event.
One of the challenging parts of the Help-Portrait initiative is finding your target recipients. It’s not like you can just setup a mobile studio and expect people to find you. In most cases, going to your target recipients will yield a successful Help-Portrait event, and one way to reach these folks is to partner with an organization that is already working with foster families, providing support to families, or helping the under-privileged.
Most cities have organizations that provide and support the people you are trying to reach. In Atlanta, we have the Atlanta Union Mission, Hosea Williams, Families First and many others. Some are church-based, and others are nonprofit. We happen to be partnering with Families First this year for the Help Portrait Atlanta event.
To find these organizations, do a simple Google search or a quick flip through the Yellow Pages and you’ll quick see what organizations are in your area. Also talking with a local church will more likely than not get you pointed in the right direction.
Look for organizations that support:
- Displaced families
- Victims of abuse or domestic violence
- Foster Kids and Families
After you have a list of organizations, the next step is to contact them. I just happened to email the CEO of Families First and she sent it along to the volunteer director, and things grew from there. But your method of reaching the right person may require a personal visit. But, either way, you need to be armed with details.
In my email to the CEO of Families First, I made sure I pointed out a few things to ensure that they knew I was serious and was committed to what I was trying to do.
Here is an excerpt of the email I sent:
My name is Frank Lazaro and the reason I am writing to you is that I am taking up an initiative called Help-Portrait. http://www.help-portrait.com. Here’s the basic concept: Help-Portrait is a movement of photographers who are using their time, equipment and expertise to give back to those who are less fortunate this holiday season. What this means is, we will set up photography stations and give the less fortunate families of Atlanta the ability to get high quality professional photos done of their families and walk out with a print photos for free.
Each city or local area is able to create their own event and I have decided to do an event in Atlanta. We are in the planning stages, but we have a core team in place to start pulling the details together. Our website to convey information for Atlanta: http://www.help-portrait-atlanta.com – This event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12.
Where can Families First fit in? We are looking for a partner that can help us connect with the folks we are trying to reach.
If Families First would be interested, I’d love to partner with you. We would need help with reaching the families that would like to have photos done that normally wouldn’t or couldn’t afford. Finally, helping us connect with other potential partners that can help provide other services or donations to offset the costs of printing. All the other stuff, such as the equipment, computers and photographers is already taken care of, just need to get the last mile done.
So what would Dec. 12 look like?
- We will have hair and make-up artists their to provide free makeovers prior to getting their photos taken
- We will have several professional photographers with lights and backgrounds taking pictures
- We will have several professional photo editors touching up the photos and printing on-site
- Each family walks out with professionally printed photos for the holiday
- If I can find other partners, provide service and goods for the upcoming holiday season
I know this is a lot, but I firmly believe in what we are trying to do. I’d love to talk to you or someone on your staff on how we can work together on this. Feel free to call me at 404-xxx-xxxx or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to talking with you.
So as you can see, I provided a lot of details. Some of these changed, but they were able to get a good sense of what I was looking for and what I wanted from them. Granted as we talked, looked at the locations etc., we firmed up our plans and to this day we are still being as flexible as possible.
If you are meeting with someone in person, bring talking points. Be concise, but explain things are adjustable based on the partnership.
The key to remember is this is a partnership. You want to help them, and you need them to help you.
If the organization you are partnering with lacks a facility, talking with a local community center or church is your best bet to find a space suitable for setting up a few photography stations.
In the end, by just talking with these organizations, you’ll see that the families will truly appreciate what you are doing. Take the effort to make the organizations feel comfortable with you; make sure they know you are serious. If you come across flaky, they won’t work with you. The families and kids have been through a lot in their lives and the organizations won’t do anything if they feel you’ll disappoint them. So, get your ducks in a row, over-communicate and do what you say you are going to do. Get all this done and you’ll have a rewarding and successful event.
Final thought, keep the scope within reality. Don’t over commit. I know the temptation to do it all is strong, but doing 10 things okay instead of doing four things great is not better. It’s great if you can add to the day, but set some main goals and exceed them.