Storytelling is always an essential element in video production of all kinds, but when your video is at the center of your fundraising efforts, it becomes critical.
There are many applications for non-profit video: to explain your overall mission, to enlist support from volunteers and contributors, to illustrate results with case studies and statistics, to share news or upcoming events, and perhaps most importantly, to raise money.
For non-profit organizations, videos were previously only used as a centerpiece at big fundraising events or in private meetings with potential donors. Not true anymore. In the competitive landscape for cause awareness and donor dollars, non-profit leaders need to support their good works with compelling video online, on their website, in social media, in e-mail marketing and, increasingly, on mobile.
Of course, fundraising video isn’t solely used by non-profits. For crowdfunding sites like Indigogo, Kickstarter or GoFundMe video has become an essential part of the presentation and many startups use fundraising video for investor presentations.
Here are 3 essential tips for producing a successful fundraising video:
1. Clarify the Message: Start by clarifying the message that you want your fundraising video to convey.
Are you touting a technological breakthrough or major achievement? Are you sharing your success stories? Are you delivering a personal message to a remote audience? Do you have something exciting in the works that needs a funding boost? Are you introducing your organization to a new audience? Hitting up previous donors? Giving heartfelt thanks for continued support? Keep your end audience in mind and design a video which speaks to their interest. An experienced video production company will be able to help you craft this message in an engaging and effective way, using the medium of video as a tool to support your goals.
As you shape your fundraising video message, make sure you have succinct copywriting and/or interview soundbites which send a very clear and targeted message. If your video is accompanying an overall presentation or part of your overall website, make sure it is not repeating information your viewer will see or hear again (unless that information is a shocking statistic that will leave a lasting impression that bears repeating for emotional impact.)
2. Speak to the mind but capture the heart.
Once you define your message, the next step is decide how best to deliver it in a compelling and memorable way.
As with all video production, a successful fundraising video relies on artful storytelling. Whether you’re convincing funding resources that your non-profit organization has the leadership and credibility for success or you’re attracting potential volunteers and supporters online with case studies, you need a fundraising video that will cut through the clutter and noise and prove why your philanthropic efforts are worthy of donor support.
People are busy. They don’t want a heavy-handed, overblown “ask”. They want to know, quickly, why it’s important enough for them to donate their money and/or time to your cause. You’ve got to hook their emotions to get them intrigued, excited, engaged and willing to commit. In this case, your fundraising video can be your “emotional introduction,” followed by more detailed written support materials and engagement techniques which address their intellect.
You don’t necessarily need fancy graphics or expensive video production equipment to create an effective fundraising video, but you must not sacrifice on the quality of storytelling, imagery and audio. Interviews and testimonials should be heartfelt and “real”, not scripted or overly planned. A video documentary style which takes your viewers inside your efforts can be especially effective, but that doesn’t mean sending a staff member out with a handicam. It’s worth hiring a professional videographer who can capture compelling images and high quality sound. The same focus on quality holds true for post production of your fundraising video. A talented editor is worth every penny and can weave your images and interviews together in an artful way that will draw the viewer in. Sub par production quality may prove that you are thrifty but it could lead to a missed opportunity to reach a new donor or volunteer on a deeply felt level.
If your fundraising video will live on your website, it should be your “star” since video has been proven to be the most effective online engagement tool. Make sure that your website design prominently features your video as the strongest asset in your pitch. And don’t forget to use it in every other outreach application: social media, e-mail marketing, mobile, and yes, the fundraising gala event. This will increase your return on investment and provide more opportunities to disseminate your message.
Whatever the approach or video style, an engaging and heartfelt story is the key to capturing a potential donor’s heart which, in turn, will inspire them to take action in support of your cause.
3. Include a call to action.
Always include a call to action in your fundraising video. This can be as simple as a link to your website to offer more information or a page where you can actually make a donation. You can include details of your “ask” in your narration copy or use a spokesperson or on camera interview to make it personal.
And don’t forget about using video as a thank you. Nothing builds loyalty more strongly than letting people know that their gift or investment made something incredible possible. Producing a short success story video will reinforce your connection and leave the door open for the next opportunity that they can be your champion.
San Francisco video production company Bayside Entertainment has decades of experience producing fundraising videos for companies like Boy Scouts of America, Aids Lifecycle and Solexel, a solar technology startup. Their own philanthropic documentary series “Journeys for Good” has received multiple Telly and Emmy awards. They combine their storytelling savvy and production expertise to guide your successful fundraising video production from start to finish.