How to Make and Sell Calendars as a Fundraiser
If you have a good digital camera (preferably DLSR which allows prints up to 11x14) and a need to raise money, you just might be able to put your camera to good use. It can be challenging, but also fun and rewarding. Here's how you can embark on a similar project of your own!
Select a Topic for Your Calendar
Any calendar needs to have a subject matter. It can contain still objects, animals, destinations, landscapes, seascapes, or your local scout troop. The point is that you need to pick a theme that appeals to an audience large enough to support the project, and important also, one that gives you enough subject matter to take pictures without violating photography laws. Always ensure you take precautions not to violate privacy rights and obtain permissions before publishing photographs of people or their property.
Compile and Order the Photographs by Month
You obviously need to select which prints will be used for your calendar but also whether your calendar will be a 12-month calendar or an 18-month calendar. The larger the calendar, the larger the production expense. So choose 12 or 18 of your best photographs and order them according to which month they will be respectively placed in your fundraising calendar. Another 2-3 factors to consider is whether your calendar will contain holidays and moon cycles. While this will not affect the photograph itself, it may affect choices as to where you place photographs within the calendar itself.
Select a Vendor to Print the Calendar
In my line of work I often used the same vendor for photocopy projects. I didn't know if I had a favor to cash in, but what was the harm in asking. They agreed to produce my fundraising calendars at no charge which meant if I could sell 100 of them at $10, I could raise a whopping $1000 for my charity or cause. All I had to do was find a piece of software that enabled me to make my photos calendar-ready. I went to Walmart and purchased a $10.00 photo editor/newsletter software called "Print Shop." Print Shop did everything I needed to as far as producing a basic calendar goes. That was over a decade ago. Today, there are a myriad of online software products which will enable you to produce your calendar online. At the risk of sounding 'spammy' to our Hubpages editors, I will not list my recommendations here but a Google search for "calendar making software" will get you going. You are looking for software that offers you a discount or reduction for non-profits, or something that keeps costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality. After all, you are trying to raise money!
When looking for software for fundraising projects, search for free products and avoid any big ticket items unless the project will be a long-term endeavor. In fact, the less expensive ones tend to be more user friendly though they offer less in terms of bells and whistles.
Produce the Calendar
Your software should allow you choices like a nice cover, adding all 12 or 18 photographs to the back of the calendar, holidays, moon cycles, and some calendars even offer planting and harvest information. You should be able to choose sizes from 5x7 up to 11x14 with 8x10 being the most popular. Binding choices should range from spiral to glued, spiral being optimal. If glued, you should ensure your calendar comes hole-punched for hanging. Some spiral calendars even come with perforation of page options so that consumers can preserve and/or frame selected photographs.
Be sure to negotiate a lower production price by considering volume. If necessary, take orders in advance of your sales to ensure you are in a better position to negotiate.
Advertise the Calendar for Sale
Determine how best to get the word out. I actually ran an ad in the local newspaper. Most newspapers will run the ads for free if they know the proceeds are for a local fundraiser so long as you can provide some verification that your project is a legitimate fundraiser. If the newspaper will not run the ad for free, then consider the cost of the ad when pricing your calendars.
Flyers are also a good technique for selling calendars. It's cheap to print a single page to place in your church foyer or under car windshields in a local parking lot. It is unwise to rely on convenience or other retail stores for displays. They may tell you one thing and do another or you may simply subject yourself to shoplifting.
Target group sales and even better, offer commissions or prizes to those who sell the largest number of calendars. For instance, scout troops may have a competition for fundraising based on individual troop sales or a church may have a competition based on age group or Sunday School class. Be creative and find a way to motivate others to sell your calendars for you.
Taxes and Other Unforeseen Issues
Make sure your project is entirely non-profit. If you must bear some expense in preparation, then ensure that the person or entity responsible gets their tax deduction for the software and supplies. If prints are necessary, remember that color ribbons are very expensive!
I was overwhelmed by the positive responses for my first fundraising calendar. Some folks even donated extra money outright. The folks in the community viewed the calendar as a keepsake and they were anxious to see next year's calendar.
However, there were also nay-sayers. For this, I was not prepared. I guess it is human nature to distrust people or to believe that people actually want to do good for their communities. Perhaps you can avoid related pitfalls by approaching the group you want to raise money with full disclosures first. Always get others involved and avoid a solo endeavor. A committee approach helps avoid errors and distributes criticisms among an entire group so that one person doesn't have to bear the brunt of any criticisms. During my fundraising project, the most discouraging event was when I received a call from the owner of a cow. While there is nothing illegal about taking a picture of a publicly viewable cow, the cow's owner was outraged. I think he perceived the monies raised would be personally pocketed. He calmed down when he learned the calendars were raising funds for the volunteer fire department, but that didn't stop the local convenience store from refusing to place them on their sales counter following his criticisms.
The moral to this story is that there will always be hurdles with fundraising. But in general, the good far outweighs the unexpected in terms of positive intentions and outcomes. Happy Fundraising!
Examples: My Two Fundraising Calendars
I capitalized on the scenery in my own community and took these photographs and compiled them into a calendar. The calendar was then sold for $13-15 each and the money was donated to the local firefighters in my community. I raised nearly $2,000.00.
Images of Pine Mountain 2008 Calendar (Count Sold=75 Which Generated About $750)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Images of Pine Mountain 2009 Calendar Which Generated About $1200Click thumbnail to view full-size
Related Articles by Vicki Carroll
- Know Your Rights as a Photographer or a Subject of Photography
An article explaining rights of photographs and the subjects of photography in the U.S.