No checks please! Better photos tell better stories

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By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, Delta, British Columbia, Canada (District 5040)

I was recently at a Rotary conference in Karachi, Pakistan. One session was a series of short presentations on club service projects. Most of the presentations were in Urdu, which I don’t speak. Fortunately, several speakers had very good slide presentations. I could understand the presentations. Photos of children at computer terminals with smiles or women at a clinic told me about the projects. I missed details but not the main ideas.

When photographs are used, they tell better Rotary stories. More photographs are being taken today than at any other time. Photos can show the impact of your club’s work, reach a wide audience outside of Rotary, and describe the lives we change.


When telling a Rotary story, you can express more with a photo that shows action. Show the children and people who benefit from Rotary service. Make photos of them involved in the project. Avoid photos that present a stereotype of Rotary or of people. Your photos should show the diversity of your club and your community.


A common Rotary photo is the “big check” presentation. I am sure every week in my local newspaper there is a charity big check photo. It is good to tell the community about the funds Rotary donates to other groups. But I think we can do it in a more exciting way.

Pictures on social media and the newspaper need to tell a story and be appealing to make you stop and read more. Posed people shaking hands over a big check presentation, smiling in front of a Rotary banner isn’t enough. The big check is focused on dollars, not on what those dollars do.

Instead of an oversized check, have people hold up numbers to show the donation.

Step away from the oversize check photo and make your fundraising story more interesting. As the donor of money, Rotary can say thank you and recognise the effort made in more creative ways. If children are involved, present the check to them. Have people hold up the numbers to show the donation and involve the recipients of the funds not just the managers of the organization. Children holding a sign saying thank you or hanging upside down from a playground swing is more appealing than the cliché big check shot.

Be creative in the photos you use to show Rotary as People of Action.

More resources

If you’re attending the 2018 Rotary Convention in Toronto 23-27 June, consider attending the following breakout session:

Inspire with Images: Telling Rotary’s Story with Photographs
Monday, 25 June 2018, 13:00-14:00, Room 701, Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Whether you use your phone, a basic camera, or a DSLR, you have the ability to inspire with your lens. Come learn the art of storytelling through photos – from setting up the right shot to choosing the best image – from this panel of experienced photographers.

You can also find photo tips and Rotary’s People of Action public image campaign guidelines in the Brand Center.

5 thoughts on “No checks please! Better photos tell better stories

  1. I agree that ´photos tell stories. No need of words when we see the action, the result, what it means to those receiving our support and how we did it… sometimes great changes and transformations do not demand money… but care, support, planning, and being there.


  2. I am sure this will bring in an entire new era in Rotary because we are tired of cheque and banner photos. I have been so inspired that I took some wonderful photos of underprivileged kids whom we provide lunch and the results were unbelievable …those members who generally do not come for these projects are now turning around and showing interest.


  3. Pingback: Rotary Down Under – Rotary Club of Ginninderra

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