Giving Back to Your Community

by Skip Cohen

Three years ago I wrote my first post about giving back to the community. It’s such an important part of your efforts to build your brand that it deserves to be at the very top of your priority list.   As business picks up in the fourth quarter, you need to make sure you don’t lose sight of how much it can help you build your reputation.

Just giving back should be enough to make you feel good, but this morning I’m talking about cause-related marketing. There’s a very practical reason to make sure you give back.

Years ago I had the opportunity to hear Jay Conrad Levinson speak. Known best as the originator of the expression “Guerilla Marketing”, he talked about the top 100 things Guerilla Marketers need to do.  At the very top of the list was “be involved in your community and charities”.   Why?  Because, people like to buy products from companies they perceive as giving something back.

It’s cause-related marketing at its best and it helps build your brand beyond just being a photographer.  Let’s face it, you’re looking for the community to be good to you.  So, what are you doing to be good to your community?

I’ve had a lot of guest posts from professional photographers all involved in various charities.  I ran  “Charity Fest”  and posted a week of great ideas from all over the country on how photographers were using their skills to make the world a better place.  And, by “world”, I’m not talking about planet earth – just your corner of it.  Obviously some projects were much bigger than others, but the point is, these were photographers who went ahead and did something, instead of just talking about it. 

Finding a charitable cause in your community couldn’t be easier, but you have to take the time.  Just read the local paper.  What’s going on in your community?  If the school tax bill didn’t pass, then the arts are going to suffer, starting with the yearbook, photo club, newsletter etc.  All, perfect matches for you to lend a hand as a professional photographer.

Is there an event coming up that might need your skills as a photojournalist?  Everything from a walkathon to organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Exchange Club all have a major charity drive each year.

Check with your local hospital, police force, fire-fighters – they always need help and they always have an event they’re sponsoring.  Then there are great organizations like Big Brother and Big Sister.

Within the photographic community, there’s  NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep), Thirst Relief, The F.I.L.M. Project, and the Josephine Herrick Project. These are just a handful of non-profits out there and they’re featured in the SCU’s Giving Back section.  They all involve photographers and are dedicated to helping make the world a better place.  

And let’s not forget PPA Charities, founded over ten years ago by Bert Behnke.  I’m proud to have been one of the original members of the team along with Helen Yancy, Steve Troup, Dennis and Lori Craft, just to name a few.

The importance of giving back isn’t about how big the charity is or even how much you’re able to help – it’s simply that you do help and by helping you raise awareness for the cause and yourself as a member of the community!

                            “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  
                                                                                               Muhammad Ali 

Illustration Credit: © IGORS PETROVS –


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