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NGO Rates

I’ve been asked to provide a quote for contract work to a large international NGO. I’ve worked NGOs in the past and have an idea of what I want to budget, but curious as to what other pjs are charging for freelance work like this.

Thanks guys.



by Jessica McGlothlin at 2012-09-25 21:41:44 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Your cost of doing business plus your profit margin (if you don’t include your salary in your CoDB overhead) plus your expenses. I’d go for royalties too, but don’t bank on it.

by Will Seberger | 26 Sep 2012 06:09 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→
I’m curious to see what others say about this too. I require that I have royalties unless it’s of one of their staff members.

I’ve calculated what I would like to make a year including expenses of camera equipment, insurance, editing time… comes to about….

Hourly rate $45
Daily rate $250
Weekly rate $1,250
Monthly $5,000

I know it seems a bit steep for an NGO.. but they have money too. trust me.
Don’t charge high enough and they won’t respect you as a professional.

Any one else have opinions?

by Christena Dowsett | 27 Sep 2012 12:09 | Gulu, Uganda | | Report spam→
I don’t work hourly, simply because lots of times much happens behind the scenes and out of the view of the client. Plus, why sell yourself short if you can do a job faster?

I work on day/half-day, but I do have a catch all minimum for the odd one that doesn’t fit the day/half-day minimum but is still worth doing.

My day rate is considerably higher, but weekly is comparable. Never been booked by the same client on the same project for a month. Also, I don’t pay expenses. I don’t take advantage of clients, but they do get billed for every meal, cup of coffee and gallon of fuel. I used to ask for estimated expenses up front (actually I still do), but these days that seems an impossibility.

It’s a touchy subject, because expense can be more than pay these days.

Depending on the NGO, that doesn’t seem steep at all. Plenty of the big ones have huge payrolls and overhead anyway. That said, the price floor for work is falling pretty dramatically since so many people, even those already working for the NGO in a different capacity, are willing to work for much less or free. A few I’m aware of require their communications/pr staff to handle it.

But I suppose that’s true of the business in general these days.

by Will Seberger | 27 Sep 2012 14:09 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→
We work in a capitalist system. The price is what the market will bear, not a primary school formula of “this is what it costs me plus x percent.” The above calculations assume that one is working every day. I’d be surprised to find the photographer who is assigned every day. Current estimate of amount of time devoted to marketing by working photographers is 90%.
The ridiculously low rates quoted above will result in one thing. Homeless photographers.

by Richard Lord | 28 Sep 2012 08:09 | Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya | | Report spam→
Christena, the rates you quoted are below average for a freelancer, and quite frankly a little bit naive. I don’t know any organization, both editorial or NGO for this matter that would hire a photog, out right for a month. Long term commissions are usually after a long term relationship with a client. Also, so is the other end of your spectrum, meaning the hourly one. Most PJ’s work on a half/full day rate in both editorial/commercial/NGO capacities. $250 is what AP used to pay for a hired stringer for a day, (but don’t forget that his/hers gear is all payed for) + any billed expanse.
How can you afford to be based in E.Africa with a day rate of $250, as Richard stated above me, you are soon to be homeless.

As per the original post, according to your description, for an International NGO I would charge anywhere between 650-1000 a day, depending on the complexity of the assignment, length blah blah… This is NOT including ANY other expenses that might happen along the way and also NOT including any royalties / copyright / distribution rights.

by Ethan Knight | 28 Sep 2012 14:09 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
Everyone wants to make the most they can without gouging I would say—-and there are a lot of different ways to cut up the pie. An example might be to work 3 days a week at $250 or 1 day a week at 750. Undoubtedly, from one capitalistic point view working less and making more is better but then photo work isn’t like a hotdog factory where cows go in and the wieners come out the other side and it’s the same way on Monday as it is on Friday.

This capitalist could make a case for shooting more days for less on the day with the payoff of more contact with more people for the greater chance of additional work as life goes on and there’s personal or agency work that you always seem to stumble on when you are on another assignment—-longstanding clients as well, tend to appreciate and value work over time and its not so hard to increase fees when you produce, so delivering a good product turns to 350 a day for three days a week or some mix of 500 1x and 300 for the other two and the once a month hit for 650 and the side work fills it in everywhere else.

While i am a little confused by RL’s post —I do agree that price is determined by what the market will bear—there is nothing wrong with calculating cost and adding a percentage for profit and gain. Simply, if ALL your bills for you to live are 10 dollars a day, then your overhead is 300 dollars a month——everyone must calculate a value over that according to the perceived or actual value of the what they produce.

So mix in education, experience, equipment, perseverance and talent in order to come up with your product—-market the result to clients and sell your hotdogs, scribblings or photos at cost that is at least enough to cover your bills. Data from your first earnings will inform you immediately if you are covering your bills—-adjust accordingly so that your work and schedule satisfies your bills and decide if how you are living with the realities of life—-<work, eat, leisure, family, sleep> are making you happy with how you are living our life.

Generally the realities of life, after all the bills are paid on a regular basis, determine the part you see everyone talking about which is “paying yourself” and then “making a profit.” Now its a matter of adding it in and the clients pay or they don’t—so work more or examine very carefully so you can change and improve those nasty little bits that compose your take your pick and choose to get more and better education, gain experience, buy equipment, persevere harder—and hopefully your talent as a photographer improves—-if that’s not it, then move to the next village and start over.

Not a rant and not meant to poke anyone in the eye, just my observation and what I have found works best for me—-but I am going to add this—-if everyone truly calculated their efforts well and in some way close or similar to what I describe, no one would be giving away photos for free—-


by David Bro | 28 Sep 2012 18:09 (ed. Sep 28 2012) | Orange County-Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
I thought that it was about how high or low an NGO can rate.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 28 Sep 2012 19:09 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
If I determine that I need to make $100,00 per year to meet my expenses and another photographer determines that s/he can live for $50,000, does that mean that the client will pay me twice as much as the other because I say I need it? Get real — who sets prices? If I will work for a day for $250, the client will expect everybody to work for that amount. And we are all back in Dickensonian poverty.

by Richard Lord | 28 Sep 2012 20:09 | Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya | | Report spam→
AAAArgh…there is nothing like NGO pay rates…why should that be there?

I simply decline ny ngo that says they have no money …or not enough for a shoot…If they dont have money to pay a photographerer they dont have money for the hungry mounths they are supposed to feed…end of story.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 29 Sep 2012 16:09 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
Thanks for the input, all. I’ve quoted the NGO what I believe to be a fair day rate (and worth my while) plus expenses – we’ll see how it goes from here.

I’ve had several NGOs approach me with the whole “we’d love to have you come work for us but can’t pay at all” spiel. Even one that contacted me asking to come work for them and then said I would have to pay them to be able to come do the work. Incredible how some people “do business” – or attempt to.

by Jessica McGlothlin | 29 Sep 2012 23:09 | Bozeman, Montana, United States | | Report spam→
There was a thread up recently indicating where things are rapidly going: NGOs (including the ones with big budgets — they’re also the ones with the savvy PR firms who know how to squeeze their suppliers dry) are formatting their photo requests as “competition prizes”, offering willing photographers the “opportunity” to go cover their work for free as a “reward” for winning a showdown of the naive and willfully stupid. If the trend continues, there’ll be very little work left for photographers in the NGO arena before long — instead, the field will be full of young wanna-bes working for free in the hope of breaking into the business — except, they’ve just helped kill off the very business they so want to be a part of. Sad times, sad times for all. Except the photo editors at the NGOs, of course…

by Lars Blackmore | 02 Oct 2012 18:10 | Kigali, Rwanda | | Report spam→

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Jessica McGlothlin, Photographer, Writer Jessica McGlothlin
Photographer, Writer
Anee , French Polynesia
Will Seberger, Photojournalist Will Seberger
(Freelance Visual Journalist)
Tucson, Arizona , United States ( TUS )
Christena Dowsett, Photojournalist Christena Dowsett
Nairobi , Kenya
Richard Lord, Photographer Richard Lord
(Worldwide Corporate and NGO Ph)
Nairobi And Kisumu , Kenya
Ethan Knight, Documentary Photographer Ethan Knight
Documentary Photographer
Bangkok , Thailand
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Tom Van Cakenberghe, Tom Van Cakenberghe
Kathmandu , Nepal
Lars Blackmore, Photojournalist Lars Blackmore
(LIfe is my reality show)
Boston , United States ( BOS )


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