They Ought to Be in Pictures! Photographs of Volunteers
Digital photography, social media sites, and smartphone technology have made the posting and exchange of all sorts of candid snapshots an everyday activity for many. Are you taking and using photographs of volunteers effectively?
First take care of the issue of permissions. Add a line to your volunteer application asking each and every new volunteer whether it is OK for you to take their picture while working with you and to post or print it to help the organization communicate its mission. Then you have their permissions on file. (When you add it to the application for future volunteers,distribute a special permission form to all current volunteers to complete your file.)
It used to cost money to develop photographs, so we did it sparingly. Today, you don't even need a real camera, since almost everyone carries a mobile phone with a built-in camera. So more than anything else you simply need to remember to immortalize moments. It's obvious to capture big events, awards, funny scenes, and so on -- but what about candid shots of everyday volunteering?
Here are a few pointers about taking and posting photographs to shine a spotlight on volunteers:
- Show volunteers doing active things, not just posing for the camera. This sends the message "volunteers here do real work."
- Try to include a variety of people to represent the demographic profile of your volunteer corps: gender, age, race, etc.
- If you prohibited from showing the faces of clients in your photos (though you could always get them to sign a specific permission form), you can instead shoot the backs of their heads, or just their hands.
- Include paid staff in some of the pictures, too -- they don't often get that sort of recognition.
- Add current shots to your organization's Web site, especially on any pages explaining volunteer involvement. Change these often, to convey the message that "right this minute, volunteers are active -- want to join them yourself?"
- If you have an organizational Facebook or other social media page, post photographs as soon as possible after an event. This helps those who could not attend feel part of the fun and gives recognition to those who did participate. When people repost or "tag" shots, you benefit from wider circles of publicity.
- Keep collecting photos and try to snap a shot of every volunteer throughout the year. Then, at your annual recognition event, project a slide show of "the year in review." Everyone will love it!
Get Volunteers to Enter the #WhyIVolunteerPhotoContest!
Between now and August 24th, VolunteerMatch is running its #WhyIVolunteer Photo Contest. It’s an online competition designed to recognize volunteers and the outstanding organizations they serve. Your volunteers will need a photo of their volunteer work in action and one sentence explaining why they volunteer. Then all they have to do is post their photo and sentence on the contest's Facebook or Pinterest pages with the #WhyIVolunteer tag.
Use the contest to spark interest in taking volunteering pictures -- and be sure to ask all volunteers to send YOU their contest entries, too. This will become the start of your photo file for that slide show at the recognition event. After that, keep reminding everyone to "keep snapping."