Quoting for a Non-Profit

A photographer wrote me and asked for advice on quoting to a nonprofit. Here is my advice for them. Now there was a list of specifics, but I wanted to get to the pricing strategy rather than giving them a quote I would do. You see each person has different costs. This is due to where they live, what lifestyle they want to maintain and the cost of their gear are just a few things that influence one’s price.


I believe first you need to have your pricing for “Normal Jobs” and then for those you consider a “Charity Job”. Charity is something that you deem that you want to donate your time. You may want to give everything for free to an organization. That is up to you. I do think once you embrace discounting your price for an organization, you will have to also be sure you have enough “Normal Jobs” or this will not be sustainable.

What I am communicating here is not what you communicate to the client. This is for you to understand while you price something for them.

Once you have figured out your pricing thought process you then create packages. The price and what they are getting and not how you arrived at that price.

Lukas & Nate interview Scott Brock, missionary to Trinidad [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 9000, ƒ/4, 1/250, Focal Length = 35]

Normal Job Price = 100% for time

Charity Job Price = 60 – 70% for time

Hard costs to you I would pass along at 100% to a “Charity Job”. Charity meaning that organization you consider a charity that you want to give your time to. As far as IRS you cannot write off your time to a charity.

My suggestion is to create your “Normal Estimate” and then give a discount. This way you are communicating your normal rates and also letting this organization know you are giving them a HUGE DISCOUNT.

Personally I think a rate of about $600 to $800 a day for your time for a nonprofit is where many I know are charging these days [This is what many of my circle of friends have told me and my personal experience]. Most of those photographers are charging $1600 to $4000 a day for their time for regular jobs.

Most in the industry will charge 50% of their rate for a travel day. That is a day that you do no work at all. If you show up and shoot for an hour after traveling most of the day–That is a shooting day and not a travel day.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Bucharest, Romania

Don’t forget to charge for the post production. Many organizations will abuse you with having multiple revisions. Making them pay for this will make them be responsible.

By the way be sure in all your correspondence that you communicate you are charging for revisions. You can have priced in the package 1 or 2 revisions, but let them know when the additional revisions are happening.

Quote your shooting fee, your post production fee and expenses in your estimate. Be sure you spell out what it includes. Just like McDonald’s does for what is included in a sandwich. If a video is expected then describe how long it is and how many revisions that includes.

For your photography I would give some range of number of finished and edited photos.


Always start with a conversation. In person or by phone is the best way to start. Ask them what their expectations are for the project and if they have a budget figure for the project. Sometimes they not only tell you clearly their expectations, but give you a price you are thrilled to work with. This almost never happens, but ALWAYS start with the idea they may know what they want and have a realistic budget for the project.

Your goal is to manage expectations. First by being sure they articulate what they want and then you in the end telling them what you can provide to them. Do your best to under promise and then over deliver.

When you finish this conversation where you agree on what you can do for them, you will put it in writing to them. However, just get some ballpark figures during that conversation to see if it is worth your time to go further. No need to spend all this time to put together a formal agreement in writing if they have no way of paying what you need to agree to going forward.

Worship in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Give them 3 versions of an estimate. This is how you show them you are flexible and also help talk them into spending more on something that they will truly enjoy and use.

Don’t line item things you used to come to your price. You don’t see McDonald’s selling their Big Mac with how much time it took to make it and each piece listed. Imagine 2 – Beef patties, 10 minutes cooking, shipping costs to get the products and so on. No you don’t see that. They give information the public wants and a price. Price changes on where in the world you are buying it.

Bottom Price:
This will just give them what they barely need

Middle Price:
Add more deliverable to the package. More Photos, Another video, Blog posts, etc

Luxury Price:
Coffee table book of photos, Videos, More Photos Etc

Dodge Viper

The Sky Is the Limit:
Sometimes you can add a 4th price for the client who could spend a lot if they wanted.

They most likely will go with the middle price every time.