Portrait Fundraisers

A picture’s worth a thousand words – and that’s especially true when it’s a family picture that can be passed down as an heirloom for generations to look at. Professional portraits are pictures where everyone looks their best and smiles their brightest.


There are so many different options for these pictures, including antiquated children’s pictures in sepia (with the kids dressed in pearls or old hats), family portraits, “glamour shots”, or even shots with pets included.

Every family loves to have these mementos, but not everyone can make the time to get themselves and the kids dolled up to get them done. Your group or organization can encourage them to get these done by hosting a photography and portrait fundraiser.

How does it work?

With this type of fundraiser, you will work with a photography company that offers a fundraiser option. You’ll advertise the portrait date and then book sessions with your customers on that day.

They pay a session fee and receive a free portrait, and your group will earn a portion of the session fee. Some companies also offer picture packages to your customers, but you probably won’t be able to earn any money from these.

On the picture day, the photography company will send a photographer and equipment to the designated spot and then pictures will be taken. Your customers may be able to view them right away – if they can’t, there may be an email or online option or they’ll have to come back in a few weeks to see them.

Once they’ve seen them, they get to choose one free picture and then have the option of ordering a picture package, if they wish. This is where the company makes its money.

Photography companies will offer different types of sessions, so your group will have to decide which one will work best. Of course, the most common and traditional is the family portrait setting, and likely, this is what you’ll have the most demand for.

Remember to ask the photography company how large a group they can accommodate – some families are bigger than others. There will be different picture backgrounds, but the main one will likely be a basic blue background.

However, your customers can choose a glamor session, which means that a makeup artist and a hairdresser will come in and give a makeover to those getting their pictures done. Sometimes, clothes and props are also available, like old hats, toys, dress-up clothes, and more.

How much can I make?

A photography fundraiser can make anywhere from 50% to 100% profit, depending on how many sessions you sell. Some photography companies offer an incentive, so if they do, you can offer this same incentive to your sales team to motivate them. Check with the company to make sure there aren’t any extra expenses, like a deposit.

Pros and cons of photography and portrait fundraisers

There are advantages and disadvantages, as there are to any fundraiser. Photographs are something that every family loves to have, so an opportunity to support your organization and get a family photo taken may motivate them to buy a session from you. Plus, many of these companies offer packages at a low cost, which may also attract them.

Your group earns a big portion of the sitting fee, and the best thing is, you don’t have to deliver or sort anything – you take the orders and the company does the rest on the picture day.

The choices and backgrounds will attract people looking for creative pictures, and the glamor shots may attract younger customers looking for a great photo and a makeover. Many companies will do sepia, or a gentle brown-and-white-quality picture, which will attract people looking for something different than your regular color picture.

However, there are disadvantages to this fundraiser, too. You will need to organize a date and a space to hold this fundraiser, which can be tough. If you’re fundraising for a school, this probably won’t be a huge problem, but smaller groups may find this tough.

You may also have to meet a high minimum number of sessions to book with the company, so your sales team will have to be on the ball. As well, some people just don’t like having their picture taken, or prefer to get it done on their own time at a local retailer or big-box store that has a photography studio offering picture packages at a cheaper price.

Either way, families will appreciate the ability to plan for a picture day and support a local organization. This is a method often used by churches to fill up a directory or even just offer their members a free picture for a small session cost. If it’s for a good cause, people seem to be happy enough to support it.