Ten types of fundraising videos that work, and three that don’t

Ten types of fundraising videos that work, and three that don’t

Are you planning your next fundraising video? Look at your donor cultivation cycle. Where could you use a boost? Here are 10 ideas to get you rolling.

 

1. The Big Picture Video: Your “must have” video

Prospective donors will first check your website. That’s why a professional looking website is critical. And a video on your homepage can be your most valuable donor cultivation tool — grabbing attention, engaging and evoking emotions.

This is your “why” video: why the cause is important to people’s lives, why your organization is on track to a great solution, and why you, as a donor, should join this movement. Stay at the 30,000-foot-view … pure inspiration, emotion and storytelling. And be aspirational. Help potential donors visualize what will happen when they give. Put a lot of thought into this video, and have it done professionally. First impressions count.

A word of caution for nonprofits that budget for just one video. It may sound like a wise use of money to throw in everything you ever wanted to say to anybody. But that’s a false economy. You’ll be disappointed with the results. You need a specific message for a specific audience. After all, your welcome package is different from your fundraising appeals. Make this video for prospective donors.

 

2. Gala fundraising video: Prep for the Big Ask

For existing donors, your galas, luncheons and auctions are the chance to connect deeply with your nonprofit. For friends they invite, the event is their first impression of your work. The stakes are high. This is another video that needs to look professional.

How is your Gala Video different from your Big Picture video? Think of your Big Picture video as an invitation. And the Gala Video is a call to action. It’s pure fundraising. Don’t focus on a story’s happy ending … leave tension in the air. And don’t waste precious screen time talking about “here is what we do.” Save facts for print. Save video for what it does best: taking us on an emotional journey where we realize for ourselves how a gift will make a big difference.

And although it may look like you have a captive audience in the room, you actually don’t. Your audience has likely gone to several fundraising events before. And most gala videos are so cliché. Sad story, nonprofit solves the problem and now needs your money. People are getting jaded. Can you get creative, and really grab attention? Show your work in a new light.

 

3. Donor Retention Videos: Thank you

Losing donors is expensive. One big reason you never hear from them again is because they were never thanked enough. You likely lack the staff to personally thank mid-range and small donors, but video can do the job. Let donors hear thanks directly from people feeling the impact of gifts.

Have at least one thank you video on hand. You can edit different versions for different audiences. You can add a link to the video in your email gift acknowledgment. It’s also great to send thank you videos to volunteers and board members, as well as corporations that give.

 

4. Donor Retention Videos: Reporting back

To have donors stay on, you must report back. Video is the best way to show results. You see the action for yourself, meet the people, hear the sounds. Video has an immediacy, and you feel you are there.

  • Create impact videos — lots of short one-person story videos sent out over the year.
  • Think of making an annual report video, but instead of listing your programs and events, show that donors are the heroes.

Collect this footage all year long. Teach staff to shoot video on their phones. Keep reminding all staff that funding for programs depends on showing results to donors and thanking donors.

 

5. Social media videos

In the donor cultivation cycle, social media is great for growing your list of prospective donors, and keeping in touch with current donors. And when a donor shares a video with a friend, that’s the greatest endorsement of all.

The best type of video for social media is an impact story. Research the formats and audiences that work best for specific social media platforms. A video made for Facebook might not work for Instagram.

The trend for mobile social media is 1:1 square videos as they use more real estate on the screen. (This is to the great sorrow of those of us who love cinematic 16:9 wide videos.) And since social media videos are often watched at work with the sound off, also add on-screen text to get your message across.

Keep these videos short. Instagram likes 60 seconds, Twitter likes 30 seconds, and Snapchat only 10 seconds. Also look into creating Live videos from your events. San Diego Humane Society used Facebook Live to show the rescue of 92 Yorkie puppies and raised $100,000.

 

6. External event videos: Look at your calendar

As you plan your marketing and donor communications for the year, which events could use a boost from video? Holidays like Christmas, and national or international awareness days. Year-end giving. Annual report time. Giving Tuesday, held right after Thanksgiving, is a huge opportunity. Here in Seattle we also have GiveBIG Seattle organized by the Seattle Foundation in the spring.

 

7. Campaign fundraising videos

Kick off your capital campaign with a strong fundraising video. Use video again at the mid-point to report results and keep the momentum going. And when you finish, have a heartfelt thank you video ready that points to the new future.

 

8. Special Event videos

Send a video online to attract people to events. Add music and edit in a way that builds energy. Interview people who are going to the event, or went last year. Ideally you have footage from last year’s event to use as highlight footage. Add a clear call to action. Shoot video again at the event so that afterwards you can make another video to share highlights, thank people and extend the excitement beyond the event.

Great idea to try: To gather more footage, ask participants to shoot video clips on their phones and send their footage to you.

 

9. Email campaign videos and eNews

Video bring appeals and web pages to life. Just adding the word “video” in the subject line increases open rates.

Look up stats for video marketing. You often read:

  • Video can increase open rates by 19 percent
  • Video can boost click-through rates by 200 to 300 percent
  • Video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80 percent

At this moment, there are technical problems with playing video inside your inbox. Gmail and Outlook can’t do it, and they make up over 60 percent of email users. Yet you can add a thumbnail screenshot with a play button overlay that when clicked takes you to a dedicated landing page for your video with text for your eNews or appeal.

 

10. Just Images and Voices: Build loyalty and lifelong donors

You need to keep building the relationship in the stewardship phase, and here is a video idea I especially like for that. These are simple, short videos without narration. Think music video or video poetry. Viewers are not directly told what to think. People attach their own feelings and memories to the piece … and this creates a deep personal connection.

Try some with voices too.

  • We relate to people who are like us. See other donors tell us why they give.
  • Share helpful information from your experts and thought leaders.
  • Attract viewers with FAQ videos about issues, trends and advancements. Simple to make. Use a screen with a question followed by a person on camera giving the answer.

And try an essay. Find your most passionate staff person. It’s best to interview and edit the footage instead of having them memorize lines. Add Broll of stills and video, and simple music. Keep it short. This is one way to present your strongest case statement directly to viewers on your website. Or you can show a very personal statement by a staff person who works directly with people you serve.

 

 

Three fundraising videos that don’t raise money

 

1. Me, Me, Me and More of Me videos

Stay away from brag videos that list your great programs and ignore the donor’s role. These “what we do” videos, unless done really well, are boring. Focus on the donor, not you. It can be hard for those inside an organization to think from the donor’s perspective, so ask, “Is this important to our staff, but not to our donors?”

 

2. “Talking suit” fundraising videos

It’s pretty rare to find people who are natural on camera. Don’t automatically include your senior executives.

Donors today have radars for what’s authentic and what is not. Instead of “the suits,” find people who are personally affected by the work. Their passion will come through.

 

3. Viral videos that don’t mesh with your branding

If you do capture a “wow” moment, think twice before posting. You still need to ask whether it fits your branding and messaging.

And watch the quality of DYI videos: You must have good lighting, audio, and be in focus or else you irritate viewers. Too many of these low-quality videos and you hurt your brand.

 

 

Best wishes as you brainstorm your own fundraising video ideas … 

 

If you can’t personally be with your donors, the next best way to connect is through video. Video engages and creates a customer experience. Use it to your full advantage.

Another helpful post:  Fundraising videos 101: A primer about  effective videos, and ROI

 

Mary is a freelance video producer in Seattle. She creates videos for you that help your business or nonprofit grow. Visit her LinkedIn page, and see her videos on Vimeo. You can reach her at Mary@MaryJPeterson.com.