A local shelter came to us looking for ways to support their largest fundraising campaign in history—a new facility for women and children looking to transition from homelessness to lives of self-sufficiency. Their story is powerful, but they needed a way to tell it more broadly, and that’s how this video was born.
Video is an ideal tool for fundraisers because it:
Inspires action. It uses the power of images, sound, and music to evoke the emotion that prompts a potential donor to care about what you’re doing—and ultimately, to give. Most often, people first make decisions with their heart, and then their mind, and no amount of persuasive text can touch the heart like a well-done video.
Conveys need. Video brings real struggles to life and establish the need that drives your project.
Brings a vision to life. It can cast the vision for a real solution better than any other medium, bringing to life a picture of what your cause will help to achieve.
Is personal. There’s nothing as compelling as the story of someone who has been changed or helped by your work.
Works in many applications. It can take your story to any place that can play video—the home of a prospective donor, your own website, or a local meeting or event.
Is more likely to reach your audience. Video is increasingly the medium of choice, so it’s more likely to get viewed and remembered.
But video production can be overwhelming if you haven’t done a lot of it. Here’s what you can do to get the video that will work for you.
Outline the problem your project will solve. Include statistics and stories.
Make it about what your donors care about. Make it clear to donors what investing in your cause will do for them.
Have a well-articulated vision. What will be different when your project is funded? What will the destination of this journey look like? How will it change lives for the better?
Know your audience. Know what they care about, what motivates them, and what could turn them off.
Have a call to action. Make it easy for people to take the next step, be it asking for more information or giving.
Know where video fits in your strategy. How will it link to other communication tools—both in terms of story and look?
Pick the right people. If it’s interview-driven, the people chosen will make all the difference. Does their story include struggle and hope? Can they share it on-camera? They don’t need to be performers—it’s better if they are not—but they do need to have a story that a good video crew can draw out.
Provide good logistic support. Getting your crew access to places that help tell your story will improve it visually, and creating a schedule that has everything ready for your crew when they show up will save you money in the long run and help you get better footage.
Know and communicate your budget. There are many video companies to choose from, but making your budget clear up-front can help you narrow the playing field and eliminate bad surprises.
Inform yourself about your video vendor. Look at their work to see if it fits your organization. Talk to a client of theirs to see what working with the firm was like. If it’s a larger firm, make sure the people working on your project are the ones who did the projects you especially liked.
Have a plan for distribution. This is the most overlooked part of video strategy we encounter. Your video is an investment that should work for you in many applications. Use it on all your website and social media channels, deliver it via email to your donor list, post it on your blog, show it at events, show it at personal "asks", and link it to appropriate sites.
Don’t worry about it going viral. It’s extremely difficult to get videos to go viral—and going viral doesn’t mean more people will give to your cause. Getting your video in front of 50 qualified donors is more important than having it reach 50,000 people who aren’t ever going to support your cause.
Measure and learn. This probably won’t be your last video. So watch your analytics, but more importantly, watch for results. One of the videos we produced for a client was shown at an event and a donor in the audience wrote a check for $25,000. In the end, likes and shares are interesting, but gives are the best metric.
Great videos change people’s minds and motivate them to take action. Why shouldn’t you be using this tool to solicit support for your cause?