By Safa Zaki
Founded by Vicky Ossio and Marcelo Levy in 2003, La Senda Verde is a privately run animal refuge in Bolivia with a mission to provide the best care possible to animals rescued from illegal traffic.
In March 2013, photographers Kristi Odom and Tracey Buyce visited the refuge as part of a PWB project to give a voice, through their photographs, to the plight of animals and the work of the refuge. In order to make the journey a reality, Odom and Buyce not only raised the money required to fund their trip; they raised significantly more than their travel costs. PWB sat down with Odom and Buyce to hear their lessons learned and advice for aspiring photographers looking to fundraise for their own photo activism excursions.
PWB: A flight from North America to Bolivia can cost upwards of 2 Gs! How did you fund-raise for your trip?
KO: I reached out to friends, family, and clients. Through email and social media, I educated on the benefits of the trip and how my photography could help the animals in need. Through time, persistence, and education, I was able to fund raise to my goal.
PWB: What’s the one thing you did that raised the most money?
KO: I pre-sold prints and books. Every donor that invested in me, was offered a piece of the trip. A piece of art that reminded them of their generosity.
TB: Be yourself and be passionate about your cause and why you're going on this trip for PWB. Explain why the not for profit needs quality images. It’s important for people to know this isn't a personal project. They need to know imagery has an impact on and can help raise funds for awareness for these not for profits.
PWB: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently to fund-raise?
KO: I would have done the incentives from the beginning. I didn't offer them until far into the fundraising campaign.
TB: I would have done a mini photo session day to raise funds.
PWB: Tell me about sponsorships. How did you go about getting them?
KO: I reached out to vendors that were environmentally friendly and want to give back. I educated them on the project and how it would benefit them to be involved.
PWB: In an era of ‘donor fatigue,’ how did you get people to donate to your cause? What was your ‘elevator pitch’ to people about why they should give you money?
TB: I found that fellow photographers and client donated for my trip. People need to have a personal connection to you to donate and a connection to the cause. A lot of my clients are fellow animals lovers and cared about what Senda Verde was doing.
PWB: How did you leverage social media to help you fund-raise?
KO: I did campaign on the ridiculous things that have been successfully fund-raised. Here is an example of one of my posts: If someone can raise 25K for Grilled Cheesus, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/852445514/grilled-cheesus, I should be able to raise 3k to photograph animals in need in Bolivia, http://grouprev.com/lasendaverde. This campaign actually worked pretty well and was fun!
TB: Be careful not to post too much and target who you want to donate with engaging text.