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In the dynamic landscape of nonprofit work, passion fuels purpose and volunteers are the lifeblood of advocacy. It’s time for non-profits to assign value to the stories and pictures contributed by these volunteers, people impacted by your work, and donors that you use to “sell” your organization in marketing and fundraising publications and social media posts. If amateur college athletes have a right to be paid for the use of their images and stories in marketing their institutions, why not other people on whom you rely to frame your institutional narrative and define its impact for supporters?  Having a well-defined content contribution and payment policy is a strategic move toward living your organization’s values and fostering collaboration, transparency, and fair recognition.

Here’s why every nonprofit should consider adopting such a policy:

1. Honoring Contributions:

At the heart of every nonprofit are the individuals who lend their time, expertise, and personal experiences to advance the cause. A clear policy that assigns a monetary value to these contributions signals that the organization honors these contributions and the people who make them, creating a culture of appreciation and respect.  Allowing each individual to choose whether to donate or accept payment for the content or images they allow the organization to use accords everyone the dignity of both knowing the value assigned to their contribution and the freedom to choose to make it a gift.

2. Encouraging Diverse Voices:

A content contribution and payment policy encourages a diverse range of voices to participate in shaping the organization’s narrative. By choosing to offer individuals compensation for their expertise, personal stories, or specialized knowledge, nonprofits open the door to a wealth of perspectives that might otherwise remain unheard. Not everyone can make gifts of their talent or their time.  Paying for content or formally recognizing the gift of content as an in-kind contribution assists the organization in assuring that its work is “authorized” by those directly impacted by the work.

3. Quality Content Creation:

Compensating contributors for their ideas and words, whether they are captured in  articles, blogs, or speeches, or offered as advice in a meeting, inherently promotes a commitment to quality. Individuals are more likely to invest time and effort in creating impactful content when they know their contributions are recognized and valued.

4. Transparency Builds Trust:

Compensating contributors for their ideas and words, whether they are captured in  articles, blogs, or speeches, or offered as advice in a meeting, inherently promotes a commitment to quality. Individuals are more likely to invest time and effort in creating impactful content when they know their contributions are recognized and valued.

5. Legal and Ethical Compliance:

A carefully crafted policy ensures that the organization remains compliant with legal and ethical standards. It sets clear boundaries for compensation, avoiding potential pitfalls related to labor laws, intellectual property, and regulatory requirements.

6. Strategic Budgeting:

Establishing a budget for acquiring intellectual property allows nonprofits to allocate resources strategically. This not only helps to fund fair compensation but also ensures financial sustainability by preventing unforeseen expenditures.

7. Empowering Decision Makers:

Delegating the responsibility of approving agreements and compensation to designated individuals streamlines the decision-making process. This ensures consistency, efficiency, and adherence to the established budget and payment scale.

8. Mitigating Risks:

The policy serves as a proactive measure to mitigate potential risks associated with content creation and compensation. Clear guidelines help prevent misunderstandings, disputes, or legal complications, safeguarding the organization’s reputation.  Coupling the policy with an approved licensing agreement and a uniform payment scheme to be signed by all individuals who agree to provide content or images further minimizes risks.

9. Reflecting Organizational Values:

Lastly, a content contribution and payment policy is a tangible expression of the organization’s values. It communicates to contributors, staff, and the community that the nonprofit is committed to fairness, inclusivity, and ethical practices.

For any nonprofit, adopting a content contribution and payment policy is a strategic investment in the people who make the organization and the nonprofit sector thrive. It empowers contributors, enhances organizational credibility, grounds the organization’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work, and ultimately contributes to the success of the nonprofit’s mission. In short, the returns on “leading the market” by adopting such a policy and the licensing agreement necessary to implement it make it worth serious consideration by any organization currently “using” its donors and volunteers to sell the organization and convey its impact by sharing their stories and themselves. Book a free consult today to learn how we can help you implement or revise your current policy to ensure your policy fulfills legal requirements and meets ethical standards.