One of the most common requests we get is for more information about producing a calendar to raise money for charity. While this sounds like a lot of fun, (and it is!) it’s also a lot of work that requires some advance planning. Here are some things to consider:
- Your photos? Or use photos submitted by the pet’s owners? I prefer to only publish calendars that have a common theme. To me, they are a personal project that shows off my work –while helping a local charity. From my perspective the quality and consistency goes way down when you allow many photographers in to the mix. I start with a lighting theme (like all studio light with a common background or all natural light) and work out the details from there. I want calendars that look “artsy” and creative, not that just show a cute pet. Your call.
- What paperwork is necessary? We ALWAYS get a signed model release from the pet’s owners. You can find generic model releases online and customize them with your contact information. You never know when one of these images might be used not only for the calendar, but for greeting cards, posters, or other publications. Protect yourself. You don’t want someone coming after you in a few years demanding a cut of the proceeds.
- Where to print! First determine how many calendars you can sell. And remember that calendars really mainly sell in the fall — and you need to start way in advance to have them ready. That’s why we always do our calendar sessions in the summer for the coming year. The more you print, the cheaper your cost for each calendar. Some calendars we print 300, some 500. And remember the more of the work you do yourself, the less you have to pay someone else to do. Our Tiny Dog Calendar is prepared completely in photoshop and then sent to a local printing company as a pdf. This saves hundreds of dollars. If your photoshop skills aren’t up to the task, hire a graphic artist.
- Choose a size or format that works for your photography. Most people don’t want huge wall calendars any more — they’d prefer something that is sized for their work cubicle or desktop –however, we do the Dallas Fort Worth Dachshund Calendar every year and it’s a big 12×18″ format with no fold — and their members love them. So know what your group will prefer. Breed specific rescue groups have an advantage as popular breeds are supported by fans of the breed from all over.
- Be realistic. How many are you likely to sell? Each pet’s owner is going to want multiple copies for keepsakes and gifts. The other members of your group will want a few, but probably not more than 2 or 3 per person. You will need to set up online sales through Etsy or the group’s website and then get people to the website (with social media or online ads) to really sell a reasonable amount of calendars. Just offering them to your group at events will not be enough to break even. Another idea is to solicit sponsors and add corporate logos to your calendar, or let people “buy” a page for their pet. Our Tiny Dog Calendar raises money with voting. Each vote costs $1 and the dogs with the most votes are featured in the calendar.
So if all of these points are covered, jump in and have some fun. Calendars are creative and can not only make money for your group, but will be the “face” of your group to lots of new people via the internet. Make sure yours represents you well.