A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Business > donation of photo services to...

donation of photo services to non-profit

M P , Mar 12, 2004; 10:19 p.m.

My wife and I (both photographers) have volunteered to provide photographic coverage of a fund-raiser event for a local non-profit performing arts company.

The event is a charity dinner, silent auction, performance, with about 200-300 people expected to attend. I expect to give them rights to use some images on their website (and perhaps in brochures, etc.) to promote future events. In return, I'll be listed as a sponsor in the program, and I'll ask for photo credits on any usage.

Can anyone make recommendations as to what written agreements should be made up? Also, what documentation do I need in order to establish the value for tax-deductible benefits? Are services even tax- deductible?

I suppose I could give them a standard contract, then do a 100% discount, but I don't want to turn them off with a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo. I will, however, be specific with any usage rights agreements that arise from the resulting photographs.

Anyone ever done something like this before?


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Quang-Tuan Luong , Mar 12, 2004; 10:36 p.m.

I don't think services are tax-deductible. Likewise, if you donate prints, only the cost of materials are deductible. I would enter into a good contract with them, since other arrangements have little value, should a dispute arise. Terra Galleria stock photography

Sean Noonan , Mar 12, 2004; 11:36 p.m.

M P,

I shoot gratis for non-profits all the time as I feel it is a great networking tool; it shows people who will see your work that you care about something else besides yourself and that can go a long way in the business.

My question to you is are you a pro shooter now? If so, you should certanly use your standard forms and contract and grant a 100% discount. Your fees and costs (lab, travel, etc) are deductable against your income, just as if you gave them a gift certificate for your services instead.

Don't worry about presenting them with legal-ease, people expect that from pros.


Aron Simons , Mar 13, 2004; 12:29 a.m.

First, if you feel strongly about the charity, than no harm done and think of the process as a gift first, and a job second. The rewards, as others mentioned will include: networking, exposure & name association. As for taxes, see an accountant -no further discussion needed- this is what they do and everyone knows a piece of the law, but these guys(and gals) have to be responsible when they give advice. I guess I could say the same about contracts & lawyers, but if it were me, I would basically write it to retain copyrights, but grant licensing. I personlly would give them unlimited usage rights on a few good shots with a clause about your name appearing in each publication in a font size equal or at least 80% of the standard font for the page on which it appears. Have them also allow you to use their name(if you support the org, in your reference list).

Kelly Flanigan , Mar 13, 2004; 01:20 a.m.

Here when we do some local printing for non-profit organizations; we only get to deduct the paper; ink; and toner we use. Since this is already a deducted expense at out shop; the "tax savings" of doing "non profit organization" printing is none. You are basically doing work for free; out of the good of your heart; to help others. The value of your work is zero; from a tax standpoint.

Beepy . , Mar 13, 2004; 02:27 a.m.

This discussion may be helpful.

Ellis Vener , Mar 13, 2004; 11:38 a.m.

Fees for services are not deductable. the only thing you can deduct is the cost of the materials used & (maybe) mileage, tolls and other out of pocket expenditures for which youy have a receipt.

You should provide them with an invoice for these expenses. you should provide them wit ha seperate letter indicatingthe value ofthe services you have donated. You should also talk to their accountant.

Ellis Vener , Mar 13, 2004; 05:43 p.m.


The non profit needs to know the value of your donated services for their financial purposes. And if you already deduct your materials and expenses you cannot deduct them twice.

"I don't want to turn them off with a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo."

I would not worry about that. They probably already have more legal advice then you do. Just because they are a small non-profit organization doesn't mean that they are not run like a real business. They have to take care of their taxes, track finances, report to a board of directors (hopefully). deal with issues of liability, and deal with other contracts and suppliers on a regualr basis.

Chad Ward , Mar 14, 2004; 12:44 a.m.

Another solution is the "check swap." Recognizing that you both have businesses to run and that you both have taxes to deal with, most non-profits are fine with this arrangement. You simply bill them at your hourly rate (or however you usually bill) and send them an invoice. They pay it. Then you write them a check in the same amount as a donation (assuming they're a 501C3 or other recognized non-profit). Essentially, you swap checks. They enter the payout for professional services into their books (a deduction), you write off the the donation in yours (a deduction). Both parties win and the tax folks are happy. It also keeps your books straight. See your accountant or tax attorney for more details.


Brian Garrett , Mar 16, 2004; 05:45 p.m.

Check Swap?

"Both parties win and the tax folks are happy."

Really? This seems like it's too good to be true. I guess with a sole-proprietorship you could have them pay the business, and make the donation from your personal accounts. That would separate the financial transactions a bit, and just might work. I guess I just worry that if you were audited that they'd see the matching amounts/dates and tell you that you can't deduct services, which you would essentially be doing with the check swap. Sounds sketchy. If this were legal, I could bill my time at $10,000/hour and save myself thousands of dollars per year in tax liability (depending on tax bracket). That's shaky ground if you ask me.

    1   |   2     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses