Donating Your Photography Sevices to Auctions & Raffles
It's highly likely you won't get through your photography career without someone asking you to donate your work or a photo session to an auction.
Personally, I have several people that ask me to donate photography for their auctions every single year. When I first started getting requests, I said yes to anyone who asked me to donate for an auction because I was still developing my business.
Giving back to your community is important; however, there a few guidelines you should follow when contributing your photography package to an auction:
1. Don't Say Yes Every Time
Donating a photography session is a great way to market your photography business and find potential clients. Just don’t say yes to every single auction that comes your way. If you give away too many donated sessions, you will not make much of a profit for your business.
2. Choose an Organization You Believe In
Choose a charity or organization that is personally important to you and only give back to those causes. I only donate a photography package to two or three auctions every year because I support those organizations for special reasons.
3. Be Specific
Be very specific with the information included on your donated gift certificate. Always include an expiration date. Make sure the wording is exactly how you want it to be displayed.
I donated a senior photo session to an auction at a local high school that my husband and I support. Instead of the senior session, the winner wanted to have a family photo shoot.
I usually say no to this type of request, but I was able to work it out with the winner, who ended up also being someone I personally knew. However, now when I donate to an auction, I always write “no exchanges or substitutions” on the certificate.
The client only receives what is stated on the certificate. This doesn’t mean the winner won’t ask for a different kind of session instead. But then, its your personal choice on whether you want to make an exchange for the client.
4. Talk with the Auction Director
Double check with the director of the auction to make sure your session certificate matches the information on the bid sheet before the event.
During a recent auction, the director assumed I was giving away the same type of session that I had given away the year before. Therefore, there was confusion on what the session winner was receiving from me. Thankfully, the winner didn’t have a problem. However, not everyone may be as understanding.
5. Preview the Auction Space
If you have the opportunity, preview the space where your auction item will be located. If it isn’t a good space, ask the person in charge if you can display your session and work in a better spot.
I donate to an auction every year that raises money for a preschool program. The director of the preschool always gives me enough space to display at least four or five framed prints of my work and an area for my business cards. Make sure you have plenty of space to display your work so potential clients can get a sense of your photography style.
6. Be Present
Unless the auction online, try to be present at the auction if possible and stand next to your display. I do my best to attend each auction so I can meet and talk with potential clients.
I try to speak to everyone that walks by my auction display. Generally, the more I people I talk with, the more likely they are to write down a bid to win my family photo session.
If a family doesn’t win, they will still walk away with my business card, which is still a chance for me to build my business with new clients. I also speak to families after the auction to make sure they have my business card, and encourage them to contact me to set up a session.
I always love speaking to families and potential clients at auctions and raffles. They are a great way to promote your business, increase your profits, and donate your work to a cause that is important to you. Following these steps will insure a successful donation for your photography business!
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