The Power of a Picture: How Images Help Donors Understand Your Cause

Posted on March 15, 2013

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Kenyan School ChildrenAs director of event production at Event 360, my work is often grounded in the importance of storytelling. I know how essential it is for a client’s cause to resonate with an audience. A recent trip to Kenya affirmed for me, on a whole new level, the power of an image in accomplishing just that.

The trip was my second to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. My first, in 2012, had inspired me to launch Images for Better (IFB) — my effort to connect people to the world’s needs through my photography. I sell images from my travels, and the proceeds benefit selected organizations.

In Nairobi, I’ve twice taken portraits of children at the Mathare Early Childhood Development Centre (MECDC), which is run by the We the Change Foundation. The WTC built this pilot school and hopes to bring similar schools to all 47 counties in the country.

Realizing a Dream

I had long wanted to travel to Africa, and my sister’s move to Kenya motivated me to finally realize my dream in 2012.

Kenyan School ChildrenMECDC is located in a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Most of the children I photographed didn’t even own a mirror, so for them, the experience of having their portrait taken was truly profound. I was equally affected by the experience, so much so that I not only launched IFB, but decided to return a year later and photograph these children again.

I already understood, as a photographer, the power that an image holds. I’ve seen the reaction when I post a photo to Facebook compared with a simple status update; many more people check out a photo. But even I couldn’t have anticipated the effect the experience of photographing those schoolchildren would have on me — or the ripple effect those photographs would have when I began to share them.

The example I cherish most is that of my 10-year-old niece, Caroline. When she saw the photos, she was full of questions about the children I had met and the way they lived. She was moved to do something — to make change herself. So she began her own effort, raising money for school supplies for the children of MECDC.

A Second Visit to Nairobi

Back in Nairobi for the second time this February, I saw and photographed many of the same children I had met the year before. It was incredibly moving to see the transformation in them after just one year in their new school. Many of the kids looked markedly better and healthier this year, compared with just one year previous.

Kenyan School Children with Thank You SignAnd the children were resoundingly grateful for the school supplies that my niece had purchased from the funds she had raised. When they presented me with the sign they’d made (“Thank you Caroline”) and the handwritten letter signed by all of the kids, I was moved to tears.

I felt so full and humbled after visiting MECDC each time, having experienced this community and the love within it. Thanks to WTC, this wonderful school exists and the children are able to get an education, not to mention a complete, nutritious lunch (which for some could actually be their only meal of the day).

By selling my photography, I’ve helped support six different causes over the past year. Looking back through my photos and reflecting on the change the experience has brought in me renews my determination to bring the world’s needs to people and make a difference — whether I’m working for an Event 360 client or on my next IFB project.

“Sarah and Slade’s Experience Hub” blog posts are featured monthly. Directors of production projects Sarah Coniglio and Slade Thompson each have many years of hands-on experience in almost every aspect of event operations and production.

Would you like to speak with an expert in event development and production? Please email Sarah or Slade today.

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