A number of non-profits today are using online photo-sharing sites. (There is also some useful discussion on Techsoup's forum about photo-sharing sites). While there are many photo gallery/sharing services floating around, I've found out about a service that, in my opinion, is great for nonprofit organizations' photo sharing.
The site I'm talking about is SmugMug. If you're not already familiar with it, SmugMug is a popular online photo sharing site launched about four years ago. It is very user-friendly (not a small deal for volunteers and staff in any non-profit!) and offers lots of options for you as well as the people you are sharing your photos with.
The best part: they have a special deal for nonprofits. They are giving away free Pro accounts for qualified non-profit organizations. And what a noble thing to do! Here's what they had to say about this:
"At SmugMug, we think one good deed deserves another, so we happily donate free Pro accounts to non-profit organizations. A SmugMug Pro account allows charitable groups to surround their photos with their own logos and information. Plus, non-profits will have a versatile medium to connect with members, document their efforts and touch the global community with history's most powerful and influential means of communication... images."
SmugMug allows you to post photos and add captions and footers to your photos to let people know what's happening in each photo. The site also offers excellent ways to share your pictures with others, and it lets you browse other people's collections by keyword tags, similar to Flickr.
There are a lot of other features that SmugMug offers. Smugmug has a great mapping feature that allows users to map their pictures. There is also a Google Earth feeds for each user. Another key feature is the PhotoRank where viewers, whether they have a SmugMug account or not, can give a photo a thumb up or a thumb down and it will contribute to its popularity ranking on the site. So people can see at a glance what a given SmugMug customer's most popular photos are or the most popular photos tagged with some keyword tag.
Nonprofit Organizations Using SmugMug
There are a number of nonprofits that already have photos on SmugMug, here are some examples:
- Pack 205 - Cub Scouts of Pack 205 of Apple Valley, Minnesota
- The Glimpse Foundation - an organization that fosters cross-cultural understanding and exchange
- SAMS post 116 - A regional post of the Scottish American Military Society, which preserves and promotes Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions, and heritage.
- Oshvegas Festival Motorcycle Rally - A rally held in Oshkosh, WI to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
One feature SmugMug does not offer yet is the ability to embed SmugMug albums into other websites. We spoke to them and found out that they are working on this! (This is also great for Wild Apricot users so they will be able to embed not just individual pictures but whole albums into their web pages).
Getting Started With SmugMug
If you have digital photos and would like to try SmugMug, here are a seven steps to help beginners get the most out this service:
Step 1: Sign up for a SmugMug Account
To take advantage of their free pro accounts offer and sign up, all you have to do is send an email to Markham Bennett at markham ATSIGN smugmug.com with your name, email, contact information, and a brief description of your organization or a link to your website. We heard their customer service is fabulous so rest assured that they will get back to you right away!
Step 2: Create a Bio
Create a bio - in this case a description of your organization and mission. You can also place a bio photo near the top of your SmugMug home page and surround it with text. Here's an example:
Step 3: Create a New Gallery
This is where you can upload your photos. You can also create a different gallery for each group of your pictures. To create a new gallery, SmugMug provides a simple page with two steps: you must title your gallery and choose a category to help classify your gallery. You can also choose a theme for your gallery and see its preview. After creating the gallery, you can set more options in customize gallery. Once you've created your first subcategory in your control panel, this option will get added to the create gallery page. Here's an example of what your photo galleries will look like on your SmugMug website:
Step 4: Upload Your Photos
SmugMug’s uploading tool is great and takes only minutes. There is a simple drag-and-drop feature and you can view the upload progress of individual files. Also, when uploading photos, you don’t have to worry about which photos to store and share, because SmugMug’s photo storage capacity is unlimited. Not only can you upload photos to this photo hosting service but you can also upload video clips.
Step 5: Personalize Your Photos Look and Feel
You can customize your pictures look and feel with different looks. Currently, there are over 40 themes to apply to the site such as a smugmug classic (gray, baby, gray!), Halloween 1, and Sand. Themes can be applied to homepages, categories, subcategories, and galleries. You can also, in your control panel, set ‘all pages’ to be a certain theme and then override them on a case-by-case basis.
Step 6: Edit and Organize Your Galleries
Smugmug makes organizing photos very easy even for beginners. Create categories and subcategories to better organize your galleries. Additionally, you can choose your viewing preferences and if someone you share with happens to have a slower connection, they just choose to views thumbnails so that they can browse all your photos. For editing photos, Smugmug features online tools for cropping, rotating and resizing images, auto-correcting color balance and adding color effects.
Step 7: Share Photos and Build a Community
Sharing photos has never been easier! You get a custom URL (such as organization.smugmug.com) that you can email to family and friends. You can download and print photos or order prints for delivery. You can create ShareGroups with friends and families and share your photos. And SmugMug albums should be coming very soon!
As you can see, I think SmugMug is a great tool, but I also want to hear from you. Which photo-sharing site has been useful for your nonprofit? nptech nonprofit web2.0