This is so easy and it costs you nothing but time. I know "time" is one of those elements we never have enough of, but that simply means you have to use it wisely. Every non-profit association and project needs help and there's so much you can bring to the party as a photographer/artist.
Some of the points I've made about marketing and expanding your reach into the community have been said over and over again, but so many of you still aren't making the change. Think about how you feel as a consumer yourself? You like supporting companies you perceive as giving something back to the community.
Get involved with a local fund-raiser. Whether it involves your camera or not doesn't matter. You need to be involved and your community needs to know you're out there and not just another retailer or service provider.
Look for local events all year long, not just at holiday time. For example, what's coming up in your community that's a fund-raising event? Keep in touch with the Chamber of Commerce, the various service organizations and the schools.
Get to know the president of the PTA for any of the schools. How about portraits instead of a bake sale to raise money this year? What events are they sponsoring that might need to be documented?
Every high school football team, band, yearbook and chorus are looking for new ways to raise money - you've got the gear and the know-how - so how about working with them to create a new idea for fund-raising beyond hot dog sales at Friday night games?
Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and find out what's going on in the community. In the fall there's always a United Way Campaign, but what events take place during the winter months? Using your camera to create new ways to raise funds is a great way to show you're involved.
Sometimes it's not about raising money directly at all, but using your skill set as a photojournalist, documenting various events in the community and then providing the management of those events and the local paper and websites with your images. Remember, nobody can do it better than you!
The big issue is about involvement and helping people remember who you are and what makes you different from so many other companies. I remember Tony Corbell once talking about when he first got started:
"I wasn't the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest! It was the best way I could separate myself from everybody else and build my business!"
You're looking for the community to be good to you - Well, you have to be good to your community!
*I first read this quote on the NILMDTS site, but no matter where it might be shared it's so accurate!
Illustration Credit: © ashumskiy - Fotolia.com