Tips for Running a Successful Photo Contest Fundraiser
It's all about the prize!
Make sure your prizes are fun and enticing! Here are some popular prize options:

  • Top 12 or 13 winning photos featured in a yearly calendar
  • Winning images featured on bottles of wine or candles
  • Professional portrait prize packages donated by local photographers
  • Prize bundles donated by local businesses

We suggest offering prizes to the top 3 vote getters at minimum, in order to increase competition (and votes!) Keep in mind that the reason most people are participating is because 1) They believe in your mission and 2) They want to be included in something fun!

prizes

Thinking about offering a spot in a photo calendar as a prize?

This is one of the most popular prize options and we can see why- Who wouldn't like to see their cherished pet's furry face on a special month in a calendar?

And, there is data proving what we already know: Paper calendars are enduring, despite the digital age. (via nytimes.com)

If you choose to do a yearly calendar, We recommend working with our friends at GBC Fundraising Calendars for your calendar design and printing needs. They have the expertise to maximize the fundraising potential of your calendar.
Why GBC Fundraising Calendars?
  • They have over six decades of calendar fundraising experience to help you realize the full advertising potential of your calendar.
  • Their many design options work hand-in-hand with our reserve-a-day feature.
  • They share our fundraising values and a passion for working with animal welfare organizations.
  • GBC Fundraising Calendars has extensive knowledge working with our platform, making your calendar fundraising and printing a seamless process!
We encourage you to check out their animal rescue calendars.

Weekly prizes and "mini-contests"
Another idea is to run "mini-contests" where you award smaller prizes throughout the contest period. For example, a nice gift basket goes to the entry with the most new votes in a given week. This will help to keep your participants interested in the photo contest and could give recognition to an entry that may not have a chance at winning the top overall prize.

Other winners
Offering an additional prize to a "judge's choice" photo opens up the chance for any participant to win a prize, regardless of how many votes they have. This will encourage people to enter who may not have a shot at garnering the most votes, but still want to participate.

Entry fee vs. no entry fee
Not having an entry fee will encourage more people to enter. In theory, this could also drive more people to vote (since they'll be asking friends and family for votes on their entries). This is also a great option if you're working on building your constituent list for future outreach efforts.

Having an entry fee encourages participation from those who will take the photo contest seriously. We have found that an entry fee of $5 works well. Organizations who require a higher entry fee ($20+) will often offer something in conjunction to the entry fee. Example: All entrants who pay a $25 entry fee will also receive a copy of the yearly calendar.

How long should I run my photo contest?
This question depends entirely on how you want to market your photo contest. The average photo contest runs anywhere from 3-6 weeks, although we have had photo contest that have been for a much shorter period and photo contests that have been for a much longer period. Thoughts on each below:

Shorter photo contest:
If you want to run a short photo contest (2-3 weeks), be prepared to market the photo contest fast and furiously to make sure that all who want to participate have a chance to do so. Shorter contest periods work well if you're offering a smaller or lesser value prize package.

Longer photo contest:
Any photo contest running longer than 8 weeks is going to need the help of dedicated marketing in order to keep your audience interested. A longer photo contest works well if you have specific events where you can market the photo contest in order to keep interest piqued (for example, marketing it at a walkathon, or a wine dinner).

Be smart about your ending time!
Most contests see a flurry of activity at the very end with last minute votes coming in as the top vote getters vie for the prize(s). It's easy to have your contest end at midnight, but that may exclude those who aren't night owls.

We recommend ending your photo contest around 8 PM or 9 PM, when your participants are at home and most likely to be in front of their computers. You'll also want to watch out for holidays- for example, having your photo contest end on New Years Eve is tempting since it's the end of the month, but ultimately isn't wise since most people will be out celebrating.

Market your photo contest!
One of the best ways to market your photo contest is by regularly posting about it on your organization's Facebook page before and during your contest. Using your Facebook page is a simple and easy way to communicate with your audience. When you post on your Facebook page, you can post the latest news about your contest, showcase who is in the lead, talk about your prizes and remind your audience about contest deadlines.

While posting your Facebook page is free, we recommend that you use the "Boost Post" advertising option Facebook makes available at least three times during your contest to ensure that your contest is getting out to your entire audience. Even boosting a post for as little as $10 can make a difference. Learn more about boosting your posts.

Another great way to spread the word about your contest is through email.
If you have a list of your constituent's email addresses, take the time to send them an email before your contest begins, when it begins, in the middle of your contest and on the last day of your contest. Sending email to your constituents is a great way to get your audience to take action to participate in your contest and keep it fresh in their minds. It can also be more effective than posting on Facebook.

Finally, it's also great if you can get a local newspaper, radio station, or TV station to provide some exposure for your photo contest. By getting your contest featured in the media, you'll attract new constituents to your contest as well as people that are less technology savvy.