Who Gets to Tell the Story?

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 9.07.43 AMPhotographer Roger May’s recent project, “Looking at Appalachia,” is inspiring. A self-described “Appalachian American,” May was dismayed by the stereotypical images of poverty associated with his community—run down shacks, rusting cars, barefoot children, and on and on.

May decided to get Appalachian residents involved in a community photography project, inviting both professional and amateur photographers to share images of their community. The hundreds of images submitted (you can view many of them on Instagram) show the diversity, rich history, joys and sorrows of Appalachia.

It’s an important reminder that we have to be careful, as nonprofit fundraisers, about how we depict the communities where we work and the people who live there. Make sure you’re not only talking to your donors—but you’re making time to talk to your clients and neighbors, too.

How do they see their community? How do they feel about your organization’s role? What’s their vision for the future?

How do you engage community members in your mission, and how do you give them the chance to tell their story?

– Julie Price @Impact_Julie

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