By Jennifer Korman, Headshots 4 Hunger
I discovered effective altruism three years ago. Ever since, I’ve spent every day working and finding my place in the collective efforts to end extreme poverty. Immediately after graduating from college, I started working on Don’t Wait, Donate (DWD). In its infancy, DWD was designed as an interactive game-based giving experience and, like any startup, the organization has experienced multiple pivots.
In a last-ditch effort to raise funds and awareness for effective organizations, I returned to the fundamentals. I needed to discover a way to use my existing skills to raise money for effective charities. Photography has always been a passion of mine and has also conveniently helped pay the bills. Why not start there?
I began asking people at my coworking space if they needed a headshot. It turns out, headshots are a pesky thing that pretty much everyone needs, but no one actually wants to get. This led me to develop a series of fundraising events under the DWD brand, called Headshots 4 Hunger. Within a month, I had scheduled events in nine locations throughout St. Louis, making sure that each location was easily accessible to entrepreneurs, artists and college students. So far, I have raised enough money to provide approximately 12,900 people with fortified food for an entire year through Iodine Global Network and Project Healthy Children.
2016 is off to a great start with plans to more than triple my impact by the end of February, thanks to multiple large corporations requesting to host Headshots 4 Hunger events. With 115 headshots under my belt, here are just a few of the things I’ve learned how to do over the past few months.
1. Raise funds for effective organizations. In my current financial situation, it can be hard to find spare money to donate to charity. Creating a fundraising event has allowed me to support organization I believe in and do it right now, rather than waiting for an income that allows me to do so later. This fundraising can be done with or without skills (i.e. donating your birthday for charity, or doing something just plain silly like shaving your head).
2. Expose new people to effective charities. The unique thing about headshots is that I get a ten-minute window of someone's complete attention–that is, an opportunity to talk about effective giving and why food fortification matters. The majority of the people photographed had never heard of food fortification and most of them thought it was awesome. I’m still learning the best tactics to engage people during and after their headshot, now that they have been exposed to these new ideas. Ideally, the goal is to convert clients into effective donors.
3. Market my company in a way that gives me a sense of pride. The unintentional benefit of taking pictures of 115 new people is getting more clients. I already have five new loyal clients and many more have expressed interest in using my services in the future.
My challenge to you is to think about how you can use the things you already love doing to expand the effective altruism movement. Are you an impressive baker? Can you fix broken phone screens? Do you love hosting game nights? Can you knit beautiful scarves? I have found my niche with Headshots 4 Hunger–meeting tons of new people, giving them a headshot they can feel confident about, talking to them about effective organizations, and, most importantly, raising funds for effective charities.
I am now looking to expand Headshots 4 Hunger by empowering photographers nationwide, to incorporate effective giving into their business model. If you know a photographer who would be interested in joining our efforts, please contact me at email@example.com. I’m especially looking to spread the initiative to college campuses where almost everyone needs a headshot.
You can also use your unique skills to raise funds and awareness by collaborating with us to form your own impact initiative. Let’s work together to transform your talents into a charitable success!
Jenn Korman is a St. Louis-based photographer and singer-songwriter with a passion for effecting positive change in the world. She is the founder of Don't Wait Donate, building creative fundraising campaigns for organizations effectively fighting global poverty.