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SmugMug: Cool photo sharing site, free pro-accounts for nonprofits and more

Lori Halley 07 May 2007 12 comments

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?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 07 May 2007 at 5:04 PM


  • Kurt Paccio said:

    Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 9:14 AM

    For those non-profits on a budget, try BubbleShare.com with similar features.

  • Asad said:

    Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 9:41 AM

    I know you guys dont want to reinvent the wheel by having to create photo albums and such for wild apricot users when they can use one of these services, but its the all inclusive nature of your service that is supposed to be a selling point of wild apricot. The one stop shop for all aspects of a complete organization website. If you could partner with one of these companies to offer their services in the backend of WildApricot so its all very easily integrated, that would be the best way to do this. Add Photo Albums without having to cut and paste html code. Keep in mind although it seems easy to some people to add in code, it scares the hell out of others. This would allow Wildapricot to have all the features of a complete site without having to recreate it all.

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 9:50 AM

    Asad, you are absolutely right. We do work making Wild Apricot a one-stop shop. The reality is that there are some services which by now have quite refined and extensive functionality (picture hosting, polls, newsletters etc.) so our strategy is to provide basic integrated tools first, some simple ways to integrate second - and then a clean UI-driven interface to properly integrate with select partners third.

  • Mike Lane said:

    Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 12:57 PM


    How tight of a budget would a non-profit have to have to not be able to afford a FREE SmugMug account?


  • Markham  said:

    Wednesday, 09 May 2007 at 1:37 PM

    SmugMug is excited to work with Wild Apricot on this program.  We love working with non-profit organizations and admire what they do.  This is just a small way for us to give back to the communities they are serving.

    Each SmugMug site can be seamlessly built with the main site that Wild Apricot builds. Our Pro account allows complete customization of look & feel as well as your own custom domain URL.  This will make it feel like the user never left the main site.

    Here are two more examples of customization:




  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 05 June 2007 at 2:16 PM

    Non-profits organizations using Facebook can now launch a social-networking-based fundraising drive for

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 03 July 2007 at 6:14 AM

    Today marks a special day for the Wild Apricot team - it's a one year birthday for our product and our

  • steven said:

    Friday, 27 June 2008 at 11:16 AM

    With Orb24.com you can store, access, and share any type of digital files in one place. Including Photos, Videos, Music, PC Files, Scanned Images, and more. Users also get advanced email, Home Inventory Software, and Medical Record Software.

    Orb24 will also convert any old media such as Videotapes, Film, Photo Prints, Slides, Negatives, Record Albums, Cassettes, or Documents to digital. Orb24 customers get a premium DVD and a copy stored in digital format on their personal orb24 account.

    I would really appreciate some feedback on how you like the site. Feel free to email me at srgjr@orb24.com

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Saturday, 28 June 2008 at 2:39 AM

    Steven, thanks for mentioning your company. I wasn't able to find any information on Orb24's website about special offers for nonprofits, however: can you fill us in on the details?

  • Judy said:

    Saturday, 31 January 2009 at 5:39 PM

    Thanks for offering this information!

  • Simone said:

    Thursday, 12 February 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I am sorry I am a bit confused.

    At this point (feb 2009) WA does NOT offer the member's photo upload feature?

    It's critical for our website and out association

    Thanks a lot


  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 12 February 2009 at 3:30 PM

    Simone, I am not sure I understand your question. This post is from May 2007. Please email support about your question with more details.

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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