Dear Humanitarian photographer asking for money to complete your project

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/100

We all love to have cool experiences. I am an adrenaline junky, which is a person with a compulsive desire for excitement and adventure. Now I can tell you early in my life they were saying “a bit of an adrenaline junkie, he appears to have no regard for his own safety” about how I lived life.

Numerous trips to the hospital as a young boy where I was getting stitched up on a regular basis or having a cast put on a limb that was broken. I even broke my neck and had to wear a body cast.

Today like many who have learned a lesson or two from being an adrenaline junky I too enjoy adventure. I love to travel and see different places of the world and encounter new cultures.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/500, off-camera flash with Nikon SB-900 triggered with the Pocketwizard TT1, ACS and TT5

As long as you have sufficient funds to do such traveling then just enjoy yourself. I also try to give my children these experiences because I think it helps them navigate this world much better than without those experiences.

Asking me to fund your experiences

I continue to come across many people who think they are doing something for a good cause and in reality it is a disguise for just them having someone else pay for “THEIR EXPERIENCE.”

Don’t be that person.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 900, ƒ/14, 1/250

Too many are that person that are doing missions and non profit work.  I think we need a TV Show like the Shark Tank but for those wanting funding for their non profit. This would help educate how many people are coming up with some pretty lame ideas.

What is very popular these days is for people to put up requests for money through things like There are some excellent ideas that really do need funding and I am not slamming everyone asking for money.

Even others have written about how lame this is for many photo projects. Here is one blog post on it.

Point us to Why?

The key to having something that will most likely be fully funded and something that will not is most likely to do with the purpose of the funding. Too many people are asking us to fund them shooting and having fun. These projects should never be given money.

Which of these two statements for the purpose of a gofundme project would you support?

  1. Help us wipe out poverty in North Georgia
  2. Please help us with the film where we are raising the awareness of poverty in North Georgia
Your why is really stating of the problem that you are helping to solve.

Tell us your solution

The next important thing missing in many gofundme projects is the action plan for the audience. For storytellers using their skills to help inform people about a problem and then pointing them to the solution most of the time you will point them to an organization. This will help them see how for example a food program for school age children during the summer when they no longer have access to the free breakfast or lunches they have in school can make a difference in their health and help them get out of poverty.

A vetted solution

As a storyteller using your skills to help point the audience to how they can get involved it is important that you have done your homework and point them to a viable solution. Too many are having people give directly to the people who do not really have the skills to take that money and make wise choices. You might as well hand the guy on the corner begging a $20 bill and let them go and buy alcohol or drugs.
Giving to an organization that has a good track record and reports their budget as required by all 501 c 3 organization for example allows people to know how these organizations handle those resources.
One of the more successful programs that I have watched a few of my humanitarian friend photographers shoot for and help tell their story is Toms. Buy a pair of shoes for yourself and you buy a pair for a kid in a country that needs them. Buy a pair of sunglasses for yourself and give a pair of glasses to someone around the world in need. Simple tagline for what they do: One for One.
Check out Toms and study how they promote their idea and get people involved. They use a lot of videos and photography to tell their story. 

Notice how they have it in their menu how your purchases are helping and give you more ways to participate. They started with just shoes and now have expanded. The reason is simple, their concept was brilliant for nonprofit.

By buying their products with their logo prominently displayed on them you showed you were supporting their cause and created more people finding out about them.


There are watchdog groups who monitor those who raise funds for a charity. The bottom line is what people say they are raising those funds for need to primarily go to fund that since you are saying this is what you are doing. Take a look at these charities that are rated worst charities.

* Watchdog groups say no more than 35 percent of donations should go to fundraising costs. There is no standard for how much should be be spent on direct cash aid.

Fundraising costs are things like photography, multimedia and video projects.


Don’t ask me to fund a process without you explaining the END GAME. The END GAME is the final stage of an extended process or course of events. If you are a humanitarian photographer then what you do is help tell stories and in so doing you help solve a problem by getting the audience involved.

If you cannot help me understand how your storytelling is going to help the people in the story then GO FUND YOURSELF!