As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words—but it can also be worth a thousand good deeds.
In my role managing Johnson & Johnson’s Donate a Photo program, I’ve learned that countless small actions have the potential to really add up to make a big difference. In fact, it’s become my own personal mantra.
Through our Donate a Photo app, we’ve turned the simple act of sharing a picture into an impactful way to do good: Whenever a user shares a photo via the app, Johnson & Johnson donates a $1 to a non-profit of the user’s choice.*
Well, we’ve come a long way since we first launched the program in April of 2013: I am happy to report that we will reach a significant milestone this week with one million photos donated!
Knowing that this was going to be an important achievement, I decided to take a look back at the first act of good that started us on the road to one million by interviewing Peter Kuang, an Associate Technology Director at R/GA, who worked to develop the app, about the very first photo shared through the app, which he donated.
Can you tell us about the story behind that first photo you donated?
Peter: I was walking down the street on a summer day and it was really serendipitous because I came across this drawing on the sidewalk that said: happiness here, step inside.
It felt like the right one to use for the first donated photo because that’s kind of what this program is all about—inviting people into the community to do good, which brings happiness.
What’s been most rewarding about working on this project?
Peter: Watching it grow and seeing a real community start to form globally with the app in the U.K. and Japan. When people ask for the app in their countries, it makes me proud.
Jake: I had the same thought. Something felt really special about our recent launch in Japan. The idea of people around the world working towards a common cause is very powerful and exciting.
The financial support and awareness that comes from those photos enables our non-profit partners to do a lot of amazing work. When I think about the tens of thousands of individuals who have been impacted, it really blows me away, like the nearly 500 children who have had their cleft palates repaired with funds donated through the app to Operation Smile.
Why do you think the program has been successful?
Peter: I think it’s about what it represents. There are a lot of people who want to give back, but it can challenging to find the time or even know how to go about making a difference. The app makes it really simple to simply take a photo and share it as a way to do good.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the Donate a Photo community?
Peter: Thank You! It’s an honor to be a part of this program, and I’m really humbled by the support and devotion from the community, especially those who’ve donated photos.
Jake: I totally agree—a huge thank you to the entire community, both those who use the app and also the countless individuals who work behind the scenes to bring it to life.
Donate a Photo really is a good analogy for how to make a global impact. I know when I look at all the need in the world, it can get overwhelming and feel like there’s just no way to move the needle on a lot of these issues.
But you don’t have to do it all at once—and you don’t have to do it on your own. Take it one day at a time and one step at a time. Together, those small steps and our collective impact can help change the world.
*Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.
Jacob Lepiarz is Manager, Digital Strategy and Engagement in Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Equity and Partnerships group. In that role he manages the Donate a Photo app as well as a number of other digital properties. Prior to his current role, Jacob worked as a Rutgers Fellow in the Corporate Communications group managing the Johnson & Johnson network Facebook page and social media monitoring efforts for the company.