TABLE OF CONTENTS
The right images on the internet can mean the difference between boring and noteworthy content.
Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text, improve learning by up to 400 percent, stick more in long-term memory, and help transmit messages faster.
Images make content easier to process and comprehend. They help the viewers effortlessly relate to the content, which in turn makes the content more impactful.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise much of the content nowadays is visual-first!
Therefore, for any nonprofit organization, NGO, or social enterprise that wants to make it in the age of the visual, good photography is essential.
Yet, not every organization has the time or money to invest in professional photographers for each and every occasion that photography is needed for – which is almost always!
If you’re asking yourself where to find free high-quality images to use for your nonprofit website and social media, you’re in the right place.
However, finding the right image is just the beginning. You also need to make sure you have permission to use that image – and this is where it can get tricky. When you share photos and videos to which you have no rights, you might be in violation of copyright law. This could mean some serious consequences for your nonprofit organizations.
This is why it’s important to only use clear, royalty-free, copyright-free photos.
With this article, we wanted to make it as easy and simple as possible for you to find, share, and use images for your nonprofit organizations.
Whether you're crafting a new social media strategy or building a new website for your nonprofit organization, you'll need compelling, beautiful, on-point images.
Here are our top recommendations for websites with free stock images to dazzle your audience:
Unsplash is one of the best websites out there with free images and one of our personal favorites. Unsplash has its own license, which means you get to use the images for free and in any way you like, except for using them to create a competing website.
The photography on Unsplash is usually very high quality and editorial-style. This is because many photographers showcase some of their best work on Unsplash in hopes of getting paid jobs.
All photos and videos on Pexels are free to use, and can also be modified and edited. Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated, like on most free stock photos websites.
You can even browse through the Discover page to view the most popular collections and get a sense of what’s really resonating with audiences.
Gratisography boasts “Peace of mind license without copyright restrictions!” as their tagline, and it’s indeed a peace of mind that you get.
Their photos are usually whimsical and quirky, different in style from what you might find on other websites.
On Gratisography, you can also find illustrations and vectors.
On Pixabay, you can find photos, videos, as well as illustrations, and music. Millions of photos, hundreds of thousands of illustrations, and tens of thousands of music and audio tracks, free for commercial and non-commercial use.
With these, you can create all kinds of content for your nonprofit, drawing in audiences to support your mission.
Flickr stands out for its extensive collection of free stock photos. There’s a search functionality, and because of its large database, you’re more likely to find photos related to nonprofits compared to some other sites.
Not all photos are free to use, so make sure to visit the advanced search page, then check “only search within creative commons-licensed content. Select “Commercial use & mods allowed” to find those images, and remember to check the license for each image as they vary.
StockSnap.io adds hundreds of high-resolution images weekly, all free from copyright restrictions.
Every single image on StockSnap is governed exclusively by the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 license. This makes it very easy for you to use the photos for your nonprofit, without buying the rights to them, acquiring written permission from the image's creator, or attributing the work to the image creator.
You can search for images using the search function, check trending images, or explore the most viewed content.
Rawpixel has quite a diverse collection of stock photos, vectors, PSD mockups, and public domain content.
On the homepage, it’s easy to filter images. You can choose between photos, graphics, templates, and mockups, choose whether you want the image in portrait or landscape, in jpg, psd, png, or as a vector. It’s also possible to select a size for the different social media platforms (e.g. Story, Pinterest, etc.) which can help save a lot of time.
Note: You have to create an account to be able to download the images.
Reshot's collection of free images is brought to you by the designers at Envato Elements, and designers know good design. Reshot doesn’t feature those standard tacky stock images, all of the images on the site are handpicked.
On Reshot, you can download the images in the format you need, for free and without any signup.
You’re granted a copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, publicly perform and broadcast the photos as you wish. Your rights are non-exclusive, worldwide, sub-licensable and ongoing.
Picspree has its own community of contributors who upload and share their images. All images are free to use, with no credit or permission needed, even for commercial projects.
You can explore photos, illustrations, and vectors in different categories or simply type what you’re looking for in the search bar.
10. Burst by Shopify
With a very appealing and intuitive website, Burst boasts some high-quality imagery free for you to use!
You can search for images by typing into the search bar or look at the different collections, staff favorites, latest photos, and top downloads.
Their photos are available according to their own license, which is similar to the Creative Commons license with the one exception – the rules of redistribution.
Redistribution of their images on competitive or similar services is not permitted without permission and their images cannot be sold.
Otherwise, all photos on Kaboompics can be used for free for commercial and noncommercial use, and attribution is not required.
On Kaboompics, you can search for photos and photoshoots. There’s also the unique feature of searching by color and Kaboompics providing a complementary palette to the one in the photo. The color palette is generated from the photo and comes with corresponding HEX colors. You can also download the palette along with the photo.
12. Death to Stock
Something a bit different… Death to Stock offers free, authentic, non-stock photos.
However, unlike with the previous websites on this list, you’re not able to search for them on their site. Instead, you get 20 new photos delivered to your inbox every month, with the first ones arriving as soon as you subscribe.
13. Adobe Stock Free Collection
While Adobe is known for their premium service, they also offer a library of free-to-use images, over 200,000 to be exact.
Their filtering options are top-notch. You can filter by asset type, subcategory, orientation, choose whether you want the images to include Copy Space, to include or exclude people, to be more or less vivid in color, and more.
Note: You need to create an account to get started.
SplitShire was created by Daniel Nanescu who has, in the course of almost ten years of photography, accumulated thousands of photos. He created SplitShire with the simple aim of giving them away for free.
Since 2014 SplitShire stock photos have been downloaded millions of times.
You can use SplitShire photos in many ways, from using them on a website to using them in magazines, prints, apps, social media, and more.
There’s no search functionality, but you can browse categories.
15. ISO Republic
ISO Republic is an independent website that provides curated collections of high-resolution CC0 photos and videos that you can use both personally and commercially.
Browse their collections such as “Women Taking the Lead”, “Spirit of Entrepreneurship” or look through tags such as “People” or “Technology”.
Picjumbo is run by Viktor Hanacek, a 26-year-old photographer, online entrepreneur, and designer living in the Czech Republic. In 2013, he created Picjumbo with the aim of sharing free pictures. These are used today by millions of bloggers, designers, and marketers all around the world.
Note that although the photos listed on Picjumbo are free to download and use, some photos do not have a model or property release. Some photos may also contain copyrighted brands, logos, or personal properties.
Picjumbo also features Design resources with free fonts, mock-ups, and more.
17. Disabled and Here Collection
This stock library is a disability-led effort to provide free and inclusive images, with photos and illustrations celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
Whether you’re a nonprofit that actively works on these themes or not, inclusion is often at the forefront of many nonprofit’s activities, and available stock photography mostly features white and able-bodied individuals.
Browse through dozens of categories, explore the latest 100, the staff favorites, and more.
Additionally, they send and supply 10 premium photos straight to your inbox every two weeks.
19. Negative Space
Negative Space is full of high-resolution, beautiful imagery. All of their images are CC0 licensed – meaning they’re free to use as you wish.
You can browse through categories, and there’s also a convenient search function.
Life of Pix features free high-resolution photos, no copyrights restrictions for personal and commercial use. New photographs are added weekly. These are hand-made and hand-picked by LEEROY Creative Agency in Montreal and its network of photographers.
You can search by categories, orientation, and color of the photographs.
They also have a sister site, Life of Vids featuring a collection of free-to-use videos.
+ 1 Bonus!
Canva is a free graphic design platform that allows you to easily create social media posts, business cards, flyers, posters, and more using professionally designed templates.
You can use Canva’s extensive library of stock images and templates or upload your own photos and add them to Canva's templates using a drag and drop interface.
Its premium version, Canva Pro, offers even more tools to try out. For example, you can upload your brand assets to create branding consistency among campaigns.
With Canva, anyone on your team with a good eye can create visually appealing content for your nonprofit (even on the go using their mobile app), increasing the chances your content will be seen and engaged with.
Time to get visual
Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a massive pivot to visual content. There’s never been a better time to up your visual content game!
While this can be intimidating for some nonprofit professionals, there’s a lot of help out there.
Remember that visual content is processed faster by human brains, understood easier, remembered for longer, and has more emotional appeal. This way you will be incentivized to keep visual content high on your list of priorities when it comes to effectively reaching your audiences.
Get a head start now and get visual by visiting some of the websites we shared above!