Get thousands of free stock photos for your nonprofit in 2024

Win the hearts of your audience with breathtaking stock images

Great images say more than one thousand words. We’ve compiled a list of free breathtaking stock photos for nonprofit organizations, NGO’s and Social Enterprises which you can use right away for your website, mailing list, social media or other online and offline activities.

Enjoy the resources. Below we share more insights about stock photo licenses, how to find more images for your nonprofit, etc.

If you can;t find the right stock photos, create your own! Check out the Best AI Text-To-Image Generators to create awesome-looking Images.


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Looking for premium, breathtaking stock photos for Nonprofits?

Check out Shutterstock and find the perfect images for your next project. 

Photos. We all use them to express our story or give an explanation.  With the internet, we have access to one of the greatest pictures you would ever find. More established and up and coming photographers, video makers and graphic artists are publishing their work through their own channels. But where do we actually draw the line in what’s okay to use on your website?

What are stock photos?

Stock photos (or stock photography) is a supply of photographs which are licensed. You might have heard from brands such as Getty Images or Shutterstock. You might wonder often times why would people buy photos from those websites rather than picking them up from Google. This is mainly because there are regulations regarding taking these stock photos from Google. Each photo that has been taken (including your own) has their rights to it. Compare this is something you build at home, let’s say a bench. This bench has your ownership when somebody comes into your yard and takes away your bench its classified as stolen. With the digital age, it is often times that the lines between are blurred.

When you decide to buy stock photos there are three kinds of models in this branch:

  • Macrostock: These are high priced and exclusive stock photography, it is also known as traditional stock photography
  • Midstock: As the name says it, not very expensive but not cheap either. These photos are often being bought to be used in an online environment. Think like a blog that wants to express a warm country or show a feel and look of an interior of a house.
  • Microstock: Low price and inclusive stock photos. This is a relatively new model which are usually available through agencies that sell images for a low price but in a greater volume.

If I use a licensed stock photo how do they see it?

Most agencies either have an image recognition software or let their employees scour the internet for unwarranted use of images. What the software actually does is crawling the internet and every internet page to look for pictures that have been posted on a website with a license. It basically reports back to the agency in which the agency sends you an email or letter with a warning.

So, if I buy a stock photo I am free to use it anywhere?

This is not always the case. Read their license information on their website. Usually, there are two kinds of paid licenses, standard and extended. In the standard license its usually basic use of the image. You can use the image in your content that is being distributed through or as a commercial, marketing efforts, apps, websites, social media, tv and movies, brochures, product packages, newspapers and books.

When is it necessary to buy an extended license?

If you are planning to use the image over more than 500.000 printed designs, psychical products, files (in which multiple team members have access) and digital templates that are intended for resale. There are separate rules for each agency, it is highly recommended to read through their license before you decide to purchase the license for the pictures.

Okay, so once I buy these pictures I can use them everywhere I want right?

Unfortunately, there are some restrictions. It is commonly known that a lot of pictures are not allowed to be used as a logo or in your branding, in a pornographic, obscene or slanderous way

What kind of licenses exist for stock photos?

For stock photos, there are three kinds of licenses Public domain, royalty free and rights managed.

  • Public Domain: This is also known as Creative Commons CC0. What this means is that the photo is free to use for commercial or personal use free of charge. No purchases are necessary. Public domain usually means that those exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, forfeited or inapplicable.

Note: Some images or videos may have additional copyrights, property rights, trademarks etc. It may require the consent of a third party or the license of these rights.

  • Royalty free: This usually refers to a copyright license where the user can use the image as many times he or she wants. After a one-time payment to the licensor, the user is free to use the image in his or her projects without having to pay for additional licenses. It must be noted that RF licenses generally can’t be given on an exclusive basis.  
  • Rights managed: Rights managed (RM) refers to a copyright license in which a user can only use the picture once. If the user wants to use the picture again it has to buy the license again. RM licenses can be given on an exclusive or non-exclusive base.

Can I use stock photos for clients which I have the license for?

This easily depends on the license agreement. The general rule is that you are not allowed to give permission, lend or resell your royalty stock photos that you have purchased or downloaded. However, you can use these in one of your clients’ designs or one of your own. But if they want to start distributing or use the stock photo they have to make a separate account and download or purchase the license for themselves. For instance, many free Adobe Stock images are suitable for individual use and don’t require you to purchase a license.

What if I don’t have any money to spend on stock photos?

You are always allowed to use your own photos on let’s say your iPhone. However, the quality wouldn’t be as good as a professional photographer. The photographer has a certain work method and style in which he or she takes photos. After the photos these photographers take it back to their studios to edit to images to their liking.

List of free Stock Photos for your Nonprofit, CHarity or NGO?

In Google Images there is a button in which you can sort through pictures you can use freely without any attribution. Other websites that have beautiful stock photos are:

These great resources were brought to you by Michael Vuong.


What Are Stock Photos for Nonprofits?

Stock photos for nonprofits are high-quality, royalty-free images that nonprofits can use in their marketing, communications, and other visual materials to visually represent their cause, activities, or branding.

Why Are Stock Photos Important for Nonprofits?

Stock photos are important for nonprofits as they provide a cost-effective way to enhance the visual appeal of their materials, convey their message effectively, and maintain a professional image without the expense of custom photography.

Can Nonprofits Use Any Stock Photos for Free?

Nonprofits can use free stock photos available on various websites, but it’s important to check the licensing terms to ensure the photos are free for commercial use and don’t require attribution.

What Should Nonprofits Look for in Stock Photos?

Nonprofits should look for relevance to their message, high quality, and emotional impact. The photos should resonate with their audience and reflect the nonprofit’s values and mission.

How Can Nonprofits Use Stock Photos in Their Digital Marketing?

Stock photos can be used in websites, social media posts, email newsletters, online campaigns, and other digital marketing materials to visually engage the audience and support textual content.

Are There Specialized Stock Photo Sites for Nonprofit Organizations?

Yes, some stock photo sites specialize in or have collections specifically for nonprofit organizations, offering images that are more aligned with common themes in nonprofit work.

What Are the Legal Considerations When Using Stock Photos?

Legal considerations include adhering to the licensing terms, which may vary from one photo to another. Some licenses may restrict commercial use, require attribution, or prohibit modifications.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure the Authenticity of Their Brand When Using Stock Photos?

To maintain authenticity, nonprofits should choose stock photos that closely align with their real activities and values, and mix stock photos with original images whenever possible.

What Is the Difference Between Royalty-Free and Rights-Managed Stock Photos?

Royalty-free photos can be used without paying royalties each time the photo is used, while rights-managed photos require payment for specific types of use, duration, and geographical location.

Can Stock Photos Be Edited or Modified for Nonprofit Use?

Whether stock photos can be edited or modified depends on their licensing terms. Many royalty-free images allow modifications, but it’s important to review the specific license of each photo before making changes.

How Can Nonprofits Effectively Incorporate Stock Photos in Print Materials?

Nonprofits can use stock photos in brochures, flyers, posters, and other print materials to visually communicate their message, enhance the design, and create an emotional connection with the audience.

What Are the Best Practices for Selecting Stock Photos for Nonprofit Websites?

Best practices include choosing images that reflect diversity and inclusivity, are relevant to the content, complement the website’s design, and are optimized for web use (in terms of size and resolution).

Can Nonprofits Find Stock Photos That Represent Specific Causes or Themes?

Many stock photo websites have extensive libraries with various categories and search features, allowing nonprofits to find images representing specific causes, themes, or activities relevant to their mission.

How Do Stock Photos Compare to Custom Photography for Nonprofits?

Stock photos are more cost-effective and readily available, while custom photography offers unique, personalized imagery that can more accurately represent the specific work and impact of the nonprofit.

What Are Some Reliable Sources for Free Stock Photos for Nonprofits?

Reliable sources for free stock photos include websites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay, which offer a wide range of high-quality images suitable for various nonprofit needs.

How Can Nonprofits Use Stock Photos to Enhance Their Social Media Presence?

Stock photos can enhance a nonprofit’s social media presence by providing visually appealing content that can increase engagement, shareability, and the overall impact of social media posts and campaigns.

Are There Any Restrictions on Using Stock Photos in Fundraising Materials?

Restrictions on using stock photos in fundraising materials depend on the licensing terms. It’s essential to ensure that the photos are cleared for commercial use if they are part of fundraising campaigns.

How Can Nonprofits Attribute Stock Photos When Required by License?

When attribution is required, nonprofits can credit the photographer or source in a discreet but visible way, either directly beneath the photo or in a general acknowledgment section.

What Should Nonprofits Avoid When Using Stock Photos?

Nonprofits should avoid using overused or clichéd images, photos that don’t accurately represent their mission or community, and images that require licenses not aligned with their usage intentions.

Can Stock Photos be Used in Nonprofit Email Marketing Campaigns?

Yes, stock photos can be effectively used in email marketing campaigns to break up text, add visual interest, and convey emotions or concepts that complement the email’s message and purpose.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure That Stock Photos Align with Their Branding?

Nonprofits can ensure alignment by selecting stock photos that match their brand colors, style, and tone, and that resonate with their brand values and the stories they want to tell.

What’s the Role of Stock Photos in Enhancing Nonprofit Annual Reports?

In annual reports, stock photos can add visual appeal, illustrate key points, break up text-heavy pages, and help convey the nonprofit’s impact and activities in a more engaging way.

Can Stock Photos be Customized to Fit a Nonprofit’s Specific Needs?

Depending on the license, some stock photos can be customized or edited, allowing nonprofits to add text overlays, adjust colors, or crop images to fit their specific design requirements.

How Can Nonprofits Balance the Use of Stock Photos with Authentic Imagery?

Balancing stock photos with authentic imagery involves using stock photos to supplement rather than replace real images of the nonprofit’s work, ensuring a genuine representation of its activities and impact.

What Are Some Tips for Searching for the Right Stock Photos?

Tips for searching include using specific keywords related to the nonprofit’s activities, exploring different categories, and utilizing advanced search filters to narrow down the most suitable images.

Is There a Way to Organize and Manage Stock Photos for Easy Access?

Nonprofits can organize and manage stock photos by creating a digital library or database with tagged and categorized images, making it easier to find and reuse photos for different purposes.

How Do Nonprofits Address the Diversity and Inclusion Aspect in Stock Photos?

To address diversity and inclusion, nonprofits should consciously choose stock photos that represent a wide range of people, cultures, and experiences, reflecting the diversity of the communities they serve.

What Impact Do High-Quality Stock Photos Have on Nonprofit Marketing Effectiveness?

High-quality stock photos can significantly enhance the effectiveness of nonprofit marketing by making materials more professional, visually engaging, and emotionally resonant with the audience.

Can Nonprofits Use Stock Photos in Grant Proposals and Applications?

Stock photos can be used in grant proposals to visually support the narrative, make the proposal more engaging, and help funders visualize the impact or need the nonprofit is addressing.

What Are the Ethical Considerations When Using Stock Photos for Sensitive Topics?

When using stock photos for sensitive topics, it’s important to choose images that are respectful, do not perpetuate stereotypes, and accurately represent the subject matter in a dignified and appropriate manner.

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