Nonprofit organizations survive on fundraising efforts, but they thrive when that fundraising effort involves grassroots participation from interested donors. One way to get donors really interested is to show them what your nonprofit organization is doing to benefit the community.

5 Photo Contest Ideas for Nonprofit Fundraising

  1. Community Impact
  2. Seasonal Themes
  3. Mission Spirit
  4. Volunteering in Action
  5. Events

There are many different fundraising ideas, including a bake sale, silent auction, and casino night. But one easy fundraising idea that you may have overlooked involves something that lots of people already do: taking pictures!

What is a Photo Contest Fundraiser?

A photo contest is an online fundraising opportunity that uses the power of grassroots participation to meet a fundraising goal. The basic premise of this online fundraising idea is having each participant submit a photo. Supporters then go online and vote for their favorite photo, contributing a small payment to cast their vote, making themselves a donor.

A Virtual fundraising idea like photo contests does not require the same type of work that goes into hosting an in-person fundraising event. However, you will still need some sort of venue to host this fundraising idea—a platform where people can submit their photos and where supporters can go to vote and donate. The fundraiser will also need a way to collect donations and disburse prizes to the winners. All these factors may make this nonprofit fundraising idea seem like too much work, but what if someone could manage the backend of the fundraising campaign for you, allowing you to focus on spreading the word to community members?

That’s where comes in. Our platform handles everything from collecting donations to determining photo contest winners—allowing you to focus on running your nonprofit and promoting the fundraiser among the community.

How to Promote a Photo Contest Fundraiser

You will still want to use social media to spread the word about your photo contest and fundraising efforts. You could do a Facebook live or post on Instagram to ask for participation. Email fundraising could also be a component, with a group blast calling for photos, votes, and donations. Virtual fundraising ideas should be marketed across a variety of channels since different users prefer to use different platforms.

Make sure that posts referring to your fundraising activity include hashtags. Hashtags are what categorize posts into topics that social media users browse. Use as many hashtags you can, and to diversify them by topic, location, and trending tags.

Does your nonprofit provide meals for the homeless by setting up soup kitchens in Manhattan parks? Hashtag your posts with #nyc #centralpark #homeless #foodkitchen #kindess #give #photography #photocontest #potd (photo of the day).

As you can see, some of these hashtags will require a little inside knowledge. If you’re having trouble coming up with tags, just start typing—the platform will suggest relevant ones for you. Your posts, videos, and emails should direct photo contributors and voters (donors) to your photo contest landing page.

Top 5 Photo Contest Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

One of the biggest factors that will drive community participation is the photo contest theme you decide to promote. You can come up with your own, or use one of these popular ideas:

1. Community Impact

How does your non-profit help the community? Is it focused on cleaning up parks? Tutoring disadvantaged children? Serving meals to the homeless? Showing the positive community impact of these activities goes a long way.

One photo contest idea is to show how your nonprofit impacts the community. Ask individuals who benefit from your nonprofit to contribute their photos, or have a board member or volunteer snap a few shots of your nonprofit in action and get the community to vote on their favorite.

2. Seasonal Themes

All work and no play can make a nonprofit seem dull. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with the photo contest fundraiser. One way to do this is by embracing the seasons! While the holiday season is one the first one that comes to mind, there are plenty of other ways to implement a fun and festive photo contest. Halloween pumpkins, Thanksgiving spreads, and fall leaves are great subjects for fall. The beach or pool are fun for summer. And of course, flowers and egg hunts are popular for spring. And if you can find a way to connect it to your nonprofit mission, that’s all the better. Get participants to photograph their favorite seasonal activities and rally the community to vote for their picture.

3. Mission Spirit

Illustrating the spirit of your organization is a great way to showcase its value. One easy way to show this is to have different groups within your organization represent their team efforts!

Participants can get creative by photographing something that they feel represents the organization’s purpose. For example, if your nonprofit builds housing in third world countries, you could host a photo contest asking different crews to post pictures of the structures they’ve built and encourage participants to vote on which one they like best.

4. Volunteering in Action

Host a photo contest with pictures of the volunteers in action—this can include everything from planting trees for Earth Day, preparing meals for the homeless, or treating sick animals. Action photos can be especially compelling for donors to vote on because people are always interested in what’s going on within the community.

Even if your organization does not operate in a specific geographic community, a photo contest can be a great way to capture the attention of new donors, especially if it’s a good cause they care deeply about. Donors also like to know that their donation is being put to good use, and seeing photographic proof of that goes a long way.

5. Events

If your nonprofit is hosting an event, like a barbecue, fun run, or black-tie gala, this is a great opportunity to showcase all the fun and highlight people of importance who pass through—like city council members, the mayor, or local celebrities. Donors will have fun looking at the event and voting on their favorite pics, especially if they were in attendance. Since the event itself was likely a fundraiser, creating a post-event photo contest turns it into a hybrid event.

7 Benefits of Photo Contests for Nonprofit Fundraising

There are many benefits to hosting a photo contest with, including:

1.  Easy to Set Up

Using to collect photos, facilitate voting, collecting donations, paying out prizes, and depositing the proceeds into your organization’s checking account makes this one of the easiest fundraising ideas for nonprofits to implement. The fact that participants can take photos on their phone and upload them right to the platform makes it even easier.

2. Saves Time

This is one event that does most of the work for you, as long as you market it the right way. You don’t have to spend hours cold calling donor lists to collect donations. Photo contest participants simply upload their submission to the platform and encourage their friends and family to cast a vote (and pay a nominal fee to do so).

Rather than going to directly donors for donations, the donors come to you! Of course, you will still need to put in some marketing attempts, but with social media and email blasting that can be very easy.

3. No Extra Employees or Costs

You don’t need a team to set up photo contest fundraiser. All you have to do is collect photos and encourage voting. Everything else—from landing page creation to money management—is handled for you. This keeps costs low for your organization and frees up time for you to manage the nonprofits core functions.

4. Gather Contact Info

Photo contests are a great way to collect contact info, which can then be used for further fundraising. Participants and donor-voters will need to provide their email address to participate, which will then be given to your organization so you can add it to your records.

See how photo contest fundraising works to learn more about the entire process and how you can use this contact information in the future.

5. Power of Crowdfunding and Social Sharing

Crowdfunding is an unbelievably powerful tool for generating money, and one that has been made much more available with the proliferation of app-based peer to peer technology. Then, of course, there is also the power of social proof. If people see lots of other people involved in your organization, they will get excited about the causes you support, which increases the likelihood that they will donate and share the link with friends. Read a few of our photo contest success stories to learn more.

6. Virtual and Covid Friendly

Some people may not be comfortable with in-person interactions due to concerns about Covid. This is a great way to let everyone participate at their own comfort level, right from their phone or computer.

7. Fun

Lastly, photo contests are fun. People enjoy taking pictures of themselves and the things they like, and people enjoy seeing what their favorite organizations and people are up to. The contest aspect adds an additional fun factor because people want to see if they will win. If there is a great prize, that generates excitement as well.

Photo Contests Make Nonprofit Fundraising Fun and Easy

Hopefully you can see how a photo contest can be a successful fundraising idea. In a way, it’s similar to the idea of volunteers selling tickets for a raffle, as raffle tickets are similarly priced to a photo contest vote. The difference is that the winner of the contest will be the one with the best photo. This generates a lot more excitement because it incites friendly competition and showcases what is going on within your cause and community.

One of the biggest things that makes this fundraising idea easy is the one-stop platform that manages all aspects of the contest for you. is exactly that: we set up and host the contest, collect the photos and donations, and facilitate voting. Request a photo contest demo  today to learn more!