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Case Study: Onsted Elementary School

Organization Profile: Onsted Elementary School offers full-day kindergarten, along with special programming, for approximately 715 students in kindergarten through fifth grade including music, physical education, computer and library classes. It is part of the Onsted Community Schools which offer many educational choices such as 6-12 art, 6-12 Spanish and K-12 band and music classes. Onsted Elementary School is located in Onsted, Michigan, in the southeast corner of the state about halfway between Adrian and Jackson. The Onsted community is a mixture of rich farm land and numerous lakes.

Summary: Onsted Elementary School has received donations totaling $51,000 during the past twelve years as a result of using's unique portrait services. Contributions have been subsequently used on purchases that have benefitted the entire school community including new playground and gymnasium equipment. Curriculum-based field trips, teacher appreciation luncheons and other items that directly affect students have also been partially funded by the donated money.

Students Reach New Heights on Playground and Gym Equipment Purchased with Donations Donations to Onsted Elementary School Buy Supplies, Fund Events

Picture day used to be scheduled without much thought at Onsted Elementary School in Onsted, MI. That is, until administrators learned they could receive three to four times as much money in donations by using as they had with their prior school portrait photography company.

Mike Berthold, assistant principal at Onsted Elementary, said the school went from receiving between $600 - $800 per year to more than $4,000 a year once it started working with The school has used the contributions to install new playground equipment and also purchased gear for the gymnasium, among several other projects. Students now romp and join in their physical education classes more freely on the new equipment.

“We use it for things we can't, or shouldn't by law, purchase with money from our general accounts,” said Berthold. “So much of our other money is restricted. This allows us some flexibility to use money for other priorities. The donations from have been a big relief to us during these tight financial times.”

Onsted Elementary has received donations totaling $51,000 during the past 12 years from In the 13 years since its founding, has donated more than $9 million to schools like Onsted that have used its unique portrait services. The company's mission is to supplement funding for education and improve the academic environment for children while providing parents and students with high-quality, affordable pictures. Money contributed by is generated from the sales of student portrait packages.'s unique business model enables the company to accept a fixed fee for each photo package purchased and to donate the remainder of the cost of the package directly to the school. donations have been used on purchases that have benefitted the entire community of approximately 700 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Curriculum-based field trips, teacher appreciation luncheons and other items that directly affect students have also been funded in part by the money. Like many schools, Onsted hosts fund-raisers and receives money from rewards programs at two local retail stores, but the financial gifts are a big boost to its financial planning.

Berthold said he first started working with the company because he knew a sales representative who formerly was a principal in the area. He was impressed that said it could keep photo packages priced at the same amount as what parents were previously charged, while still contributing more money to the school. Since the program with was launched, it has clearly delivered, he said. Also, it was very appealing to place orders online and cut out some of the paperwork.

“Our parents have seen that the prices of their photo packages have remained the same while their children have benefitted from items like the new playground equipment,” said Berthold.

School picture day itself also moves along more efficiently with personnel, Berthold said. Three to four photographers are able to complete snapping portraits of all kids by lunchtime, admittedly with a few parent volunteers to keep the younger students on track. And, now families have a choice of colored backgrounds with

Onsted also receives small photos with sticky backs to add to students' files for additional information. Each year, the school receives a CD with digital photos of students for use in the annual yearbook, which is compiled by the parent teacher organization.

And, according to Berthold,'s customer service has been remarkable. Company representatives, including President Skip Cerier, sat down with administrators personally to hear and address their questions and concerns, such as how to sort out multiple orders from the same family.

“They implemented a whole lot of our changes, and we appreciate seeing eye-to-eye with us. The quality has been excellent all the way around, and each year has gone smoothly since. We've been very pleased with the service. Everyone has been very professional,” said Berthold.

“We had used our previous company for years, and signed contracts without thinking much about it,” said Berthold. “We were getting the same types of products, but not nearly the profit or quality.”