Many people ask me, “How can I pay for a Momenta Workshop if I don’t have all the money for tuition?” First, I suggest applying for a scholarship or professional discount. Second, I suggest, “Crowdfunding is a great place to start!”
However, simply putting up a crowdfunding project and hoping the world will find it is never a good way to get funded. Likewise, asking people to help you pay for a free trip sounds selfish as all get-out.
Instead, I suggest you use the tools available to you to let people know you’ll be volunteering your talents to a great local nonprofit as well as getting really excellent business skills training.
So, to help you in your fundraising, I’ve put together my personal tips on building a crowdfunding strategic roll-out. In the list below, I use our Project Los Angeles workshop as a sample, but this can be done for any Project Series workshop you’d like to take with us. Likewise, these tips are good for any crowdfunding campaign you want to attempt.
1. First, make a video before you launch your page. It doesn’t have to be Scorsese.
It just needs to be in a well-lit room, void of any shakey-camera (e.g.: use a tripod), using a good microphone (I like the Blue Snowflake), and you should speak from the heart. Put together a script or even just a piece of paper taped to the wall behind the camera to help you remember what to say.
2. Let people know exactly what you are spending the money on and why. For example:
“As many of you may or may not know, I’m a documentary photographer. I’ve always wanted to use my work to help people and now I have the chance to learn how to get paid while doing it. I have applied for a scholarship to take a photo business course with the best training group in the country where I will learn how to get paying nonprofit clients.
“It’s not as easy as you’d think to do this type of work and get paid well. This 5 day course in Los Angeles will allow me to use my classroom work to cover a small, underfunded nonprofit to build my portfolio. I’ll also participate in intense days of lectures, editing, and business training seminars so I can make sure I take away the skills needed to get new, paying nonprofit clients.”
“My images will be donated to help the nonprofit and I’ll get the valuable experience of learning how a real nonprofit client operates.
“When I leave this course, I’ll have the business skills I need as well as a great portfolio of images to build my career of using my camera for good causes.”
3. Set a realistic goal. I usually say the cost of the tuition + hotel + the plane ticket. Explain where the money is going to your donors. For example:
“If you’ll help me get there, I’ll take care of my taxis, camera gear, and feeding, which is about $300-500 dollars. The cost of the tuition is $1750. A plane ticket to L.A. will cost $352 and the cheapest Airbnb will be around $350. So I would love your help to cover some of these costs.”
4. Put in $100 of your own money first and tell people in your video you’ve got skin the game.
“I’m starting the donations with $100 of my own money because I want you to know I’m serious about this. If 15 other people help me with the same amount, I’ll have my workshop tuition completed in no time!”
5. Say thank you.
“I know asking for money support my education may not be on your “charitable giving” list this year and I get it. I really do appreciate any amount you can contribute. Consider this every birthday-Christmas-holiday-special occasion present you’d ever need to give me. Even $5 will go a long way to helping me get there and I would be eternally grateful for your help and so will the nonprofit I will be working in LA!”
6. Finally, if you’re going to offer something for their donation, don’t make it so expensive that it negates the gift.
Meaning, if someone gives you $5 and you give them a postcard, the postage and card could be $1.50 which means you only see $3.50. So maybe say,
“For every gift over $10, I’ll send you a postcard from LA and a special Instagram message from me from some cool spot in Los Angeles!”
Then you can send Instagram photos with you holding a sign that says, “Thanks for donating, [Name of Donor]!” to each person who gives you money.
7. Lastly, PROMOTE IT!
Once you launch your campaign, put it out there on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… everywhere. Share the video you made, share the link to donate, share photos of where you’ll be going, share the link to your nonprofit when you get your assignment, and just keep sharing. Update your feeds using Hootsuite and keep reminding people to donate. It’s your dream project; why not let the world know you are excited about and need their help until you meet your goal?
So that should get you started! We’d love to help you attend one of our life-changing Project Series: Working with Nonprofits workshops. However, no matter if you’re campaigning to come on one of our workshops or funding your dream project, please feel free to contact to me directly if you have any questions or want more tips. All of us at Momenta are here to help find ways to do amazing nonprofit photography experiences that will change the world!
For further reading, check out some of these great sources:
Jamie Rose is a senior partner in Momenta Group LLC. She has worked as an international photojournalist on five continents, won awards and grants for her documentary photography and has been a contract photographer with some of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations. Additionally, she is considered an expert in nonprofit photography business development.