Operation Smile and Flashes of Hope, two charities dedicated to improving the lives of children, recently accepted substantial gifts from Professional Photographers of America. The donations marked the formal end of PPA Charities, which fundraised for 20 years before ceasing operations in 2018.
“Photographers are incredibly philanthropic people,” said PPA President Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, EA-ASP. “And today it’s easier than ever to donate and volunteer for charitable organizations. PPA Charities had become an unnecessary intermediary between photographers and the organizations they want to help.”
PPA Charities was founded in 1998 as the brainchild of former PPA President Bert Behnke, M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP. In 2018, the PPA Board of Directors made the decision to cease operations of the fundraising portion of the organization. This decision was bittersweet, with the board praising the efforts of Behnke, the PPA Charities board of trustees, and the hundreds of volunteers who worked tirelessly to support it over the years. New technologies and increasing social media involvement in charitable giving simply made donating to a specific charity directly easier and more efficient than going through PPA.
The recipients of the donations are well-known photography-related charities. Flashes of Hope, part of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, was founded in 2001. The organization brightens the lives of children with cancer through a national photography program and by investing in pediatric cancer research. Meanwhile, Operation Smile mobilizes thousands of medical volunteers from more than 80 countries to provide life-changing surgeries for those born with cleft lip and cleft palate.
“It was over a decade ago that I first met Dr. Bill Magee in Norfolk, Virginia, and got involved with Operation Smile,” Mary said. “To deliver the final donation on behalf of PPA Charities to Operation Smile was truly a full-circle moment for me personally, as well as for PPA. It meant the world to me to be able to present this gift, and they were incredibly grateful and excited.”
Moving forward, PPA will continue its focus on providing education and business resources to professional photographers across the United States—and beyond. “First and foremost, PPA exists to help our members,” Mary said. “Take that into account, and the formal dissolution of PPA Charities is simply the best move for our organization."