Making a video is all the rage in the nonprofit world – and it should be. Videos can engage the eyes and ears and hearts of your audience in ways that can and should complement other means of outreach. Videos can also be presented in a myriad of ways: posting it on YouTube and Vimeo is a given, but with ever faster networks your organization can email them to donors, it can be shown on the big screen of a fundraising gala, and your charity’s website should include a copy as well.
But as video becomes the buzzword-du-jour, remember that it is one tool in the box and the point of all the tools is to expand outreach, interest, donations, and volunteer pools. What will make the video tool successful is not the fancy technology but the careful construction of a meaningful and touching story. Video should be perceived as a chapter of a larger book of outreach, and perhaps not the first chapter.
The first step is to work with colleagues and consultants to develop the larger story of the great work your charity does. What strategies do you want to highlight? Who are the people you want to hear the story? What is the call-to-action you want to announce in each medium you engage? Which successes best show off your organization’s work? Don’t be surprised if you come up with more than one answer to each question. And don’t expect to tell the same story in each brochure, blog entry, email blast, and video.
Once you are ready to focus on the video, strive to keep its message and feel (and budget!) in line with the rest of the organization. Sometimes a series of short clips from staff members’ phones at a recent event can make a compelling case for viewers to get involved, and the production costs are minimal. Even if you have a large budget, don’t let the tail wag the dog: if production value trumps emotional connection, then people might admire your video and do little else for your nonprofit.
While pursuing research for this story, we came across this video made by the(Disclosure: I grew up in Dallas, TX). The production value is indeed high, and the concept is fairly up-market – perhaps beyond the resources of many nonprofits. But what makes the video is the simple, compelling, life-affirming story Kartieaa tells the audience – and his winning ‘thank you’ at the end:
Once you have your video in the can, post it to Vimeo’s ‘Nonprofit‘ channel. We’ll suggest some ways to get the video noticed on those pages in an upcoming feature. Get developing your story!‘ channel and YouTube’s ‘