Alternative to Check Presentation

Miyuki Ishida Johnson, Japanese teacher at Elkins Pointe Middle School, accepts a check Cranes for Kids run by Osh Kosh clothing.

Of check presentations this is one of my favorites. All the kids from the Origami Club came to the Osh Kosh clothing store with the teacher and all the Cranes they made. Visually this is quite interesting.


One of the main reasons I love the photo is my daughter is in the group photo. If I were thumbing through a publication this photo most likely wouldn’t make me stop to read the caption or the story.


A good lead for a story is as much about surprise as the content itself. If you are not careful you can pay more attention to grammar and style and forget that the audience needs to be entertained in order to keep them engaged.


The best way to ensure that your photograph doesn’t do what it is suppose to do is to use a cliché.


What is a photo suppose to do?


Why use a photo? Before you can answer that question you need to ask what are you wanting to accomplish. You may determine you don’t even need a photo, an article or a press release.


Sometimes the main audience you are trying to reach is so small you could just hold a luncheon and sometimes just meet with the people in person.


When the purpose has been decided that you need to communicate a message and the audience is best reached through website, printed piece of through social media you know that people respond to photos more than they do to text.


The most common mistake made at this point, which leads us to the check presentation photo is the assumption that any photo will do. 


You may think because you have seen so many check presentations that this is the best way to communicate your message. It is use by more people than other options, therefore it must be best is illogical.


What is the check for?


The best question you can ask to help you move to a better photo is to ask what the check is for.  

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Guest Conductor Arild Remmereit and Sergei Krylov as guest violin soloist spend some time with the students from Elkins Pointe Middle School Orchestra answering their questions. Due to gifts to the music program students have the opportunity to meet some of the world’s best musicians.

Which would you rather use, the photo of the students getting time with one of the best violinists and orchestra conductors or the check presentation to the school administrator that helps support these type of opportunities?

Even a setup photo can do a better job than a check presentation photo. Would you stop and want to read more about this photo? If so, then it is successful. I can see this used to help talk about a Catholic School that is expanding to include new grades in the fall due to a gift helping the school add more classrooms.

Series of photos


Why only think about one photo? Sometimes a series of photos will help tell the story even better. 


When Seth Gamba started teaching orchestra in north Fulton elementary schools he had very few instruments. due to gifts he was able to buy some electonic orchestra instruments. This really made a difference for the students excitement about music.

Besides the expression helping communicate excitement, for most of the public they have never seen electronic viola. So there are some visual surprises with this photo that help communicate what a check presentation helped to fund.

I think the intensity of the student playing and the look of the strange instrument, which is an electronic cello, help communicate how a gift is helping the arts.

This is an electronic violin.  Again seeing middle school students this engaged in school is exciting.

Now while the photo is a better visual surprise than a check presentation, a good writer will help drop in other surprises.


One study done at Georgia Tech found that the only thing that had any significant impact on retention rates and graduation rates was if a student took music classes. Tutors, Greek life, taking courses to help improve study habits, and everything the school could test didn’t have any significant impact other than music.


Can you see how working this into the caption can help the development office raise even more funds than a check presentation photo?


Next time someone suggests a check presentation photo, remember to ask what the check is for and suggest a photo that communicates the purpose of the gift.

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