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How to get Manager budget buy-in for photography

10.01.19

Getting management buy-in to spend budget on photography is tough but it can be done! Here’s three top tips for how to get budget buy-in from your communications manager.

If you work at a charitable organization that doesn’t currently value great photography, getting buy-in from the people above you to spend more on it can be a bit of a struggle.

While most managers can see the value of the campaign ‘hero’ shots – you know the ones that are plastered all over advertising or the cover of your annual review – they may not understand how imagery powers every day communications. It’s up to you to show them how great photography can make your work better:

1. Show the value of images in a way that resonates with them

Time to bring in the KPIs: if your KPI chart is anything like mine used to be, you’ve probably got a minimum of thirteen targets to hit each year, and all of them are labeled ‘Most Important’. But in reality, there’s two or three you’re working towards that mean the most to your manager. What are those things?

Is it getting press coverage in one or two prestigious media outlets? Is it seeing the follower count tick constantly upwards on your social media accounts? Is it helping the fundraising team hit a particular target during a campaign?

Whatever it is, show your manager how great photography can help you hit that specific target, and how not having usable images is hampering your efforts to reach it.

For example, if it’s getting press coverage in prestigious media outlets, show them examples of charities who have recently managed it, and how the story was illustrated – do you have shots like this? If not, see further down this blog post about pin-pointing the key events in your year when investing in photography will help with this, and show them it’s possible for your team to achieve too.

Or, if it’s the social media numbers that float your manager’s boat…

2. Show them other charities who are knocking social out of the park

I’d wager that every charity comms worker has another charity that’s kind of a hero to them; the charity who seem to consistently knock it out of the park with their campaigns, who just word it so well, whose visual imagery is not a mish-mash of whatever they could find, but amounts to a beautiful, cohesive message. I’ll give you a second to think of yours. Got it? Awesome.

Gather up screengrabs of their instagram game, their facebook engagement, their viral tweets, and even tiktok videos (because maybe they’re a charity who’s supes down with the kids) as examples to inspire your boss to provide a little more money to photography and videography. It’s no good talking about how great photography helps – show them how photography clearly plays a key role in engaging (and most importantly: retaining) their supporters, and helps those follower counts tick on upwards.

Bonus point: if you can get in touch with the comms person at that charity and ask them to explain how photography fits into their strategy, a quote from them coupled with the visual examples, may really help your manager to understand the worth of great images.

3. Give them a cohesive strategy for building a useful photo bank

If you know that you need better photos, but you haven’t thought about how you’ll achieve that, head back to the drawing board before you ask for that all-important meeting with your boss to discuss photo budget.

Show them that you’ve found specific places in the year that spending on photography would be most beneficial and not just where, but how, you can get shots that would have the most longevity in your photo bank.

For the ‘where’: during your budget meetings with other team members throughout the charity, get them to pinpoint their key events throughout the year – ask the fundraising team what are their biggest recruitment pushes, what campaigns do they want to really raise the roof on this year? For your implementation teams, what work is the most vital to them, that they want everyone to know about? And what service do they think is underpromoted, that they want more people to know is available to them?

These are standard questions for any budget season anyway, but always have photography at the forefront of your mind while you discuss these things, so you can show your manager that there are some specific opportunities to capitalize on: that if you captured great shots here, here, and here, you would have the means to promote your charity’s work more effectively, and therefore bring in more followers, more press coverage, and vitally, more funds to keep doing. the. work.

For the ‘how’: we’ve already chatted in a previous blog post about ways a charity can upgrade their imagery game on a budget. So don’t forget to include in your forecast the different ways you can incorporate more imagery, and how much they’ll cost.

For your very, very vital events, phone around photographers for quotes, so you have a rough idea of how much professional coverage will cost you. For building a consistent flow of photographs into your year, figure out how you’ll do that, and incorporate any other incidental costs – e.g. a team camera (or phone!), training for using it, or expenses for volunteer photographers).


If you’ve previously shown a manager the true value of photography, how did you do it? Tell us below, because sharing is caring!

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