Website Finds a Way to Make Old Photos Pay for Schools

Schools are using a surprising new tool in their fundraising efforts, The New York Times reports: old class photos. A new website, Class Photo Fund, is leveraging the idea that many former students would pay for a little nostalgia made possible by their second-grade photo and both the site and the school could benefit from [...]

Schools are using a surprising new tool in their fundraising efforts, The New York Times reports: old class photos. A new website, Class Photo Fund, is leveraging the idea that many former students would pay for a little nostalgia made possible by their second-grade photo and both the site and the school could benefit from that.

Peter Nordberg, who co-founded the site with his wife Michelle Luhan Nordberg got the idea when the couple were tossing around fund-raising ideas for their own child’s school. Selling the photos seems like a refreshingly original way to hit former students up for money, and was bound to be more enthusiastically received than bake sales or a cold-calling campaign.

Schools frequently retain old editions of their yearbooks, which gather dust in the dark corners of the library or a storage cupboard. Now, if CPF’s idea pans out, schools will have a way to make them pay.

Class Photo Fund is based on a crowdsourcing model. People must post photos, so others can buy them. The start-up is not to be confused with Classmate.com, a site that sells access to school yearbooks and photos via subscription and has been criticized for misleading marketing. Class Photo Fund works like this: You snap a photograph of old group pictures with a phone or digital camera — or scan them — and upload them to Class Photo Fund. The service currently functions as an app within Facebook. You must log onto Facebook to use it. (A mobile app is in development.) You also add identifying details, like “Ridgemont High, Class of 1975, varsity basketball team.”

All it takes is for one person thinking of the good old days to run a Google search, and be willing to whip out their credit card and that old photo that did nothing but take up space is turned into money. Each picture will cost $2.50 with a dollar each going to the person who posted the photo and the school in question, and 50 cents going to Class Photo Fund.

According to Nordberg, the copyright wouldn’t be an issue because many class photographs are “works for hire” and are in the public domain. Still, should any copyrighted images make their way onto the site, Nordbergs hope to make use of the exemption provided by Millennium Digital Copyright Act.

The site is focusing on group photos, since they have the most income potential. If there are 20 students in a class, that’s potentially $20 in revenue for the school. (Mr. Nordberg said the service only accepts photos of people who are now at least 19 years old.)

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