Some common ways video may be used effectively to fundraise at your events are to ask for donations, thank donors and supporters, and celebrate successes. First let’s walk through a quick primer on video types that will help you meet your mission goals:
- Tell a compelling client story: Sometimes called a gala or banquet film, this format is a narrative consisting of meeting clients, hearing their struggles and seeing how your organization provided critical help when it was most needed.
- Announce a new service: You know your offerings and who you serve well, so find a way to introduce the viewer to the heart and passion that drives your organization, the client need and how a donor’s gift will make a huge impact.
- Ask for a specific resource or campaign: Need a new satellite facility to expand services for a huge waitlist? This type of video tells the viewer what is needed—right now—and why, plus has a strong call to action to meet a specific dollar or resource goal.
- Relay a personal message from the executive director: EDs are often rated an 11 in the heart department, so harness that energy in a video that reaches right off the screen to touch the viewer. Why did they start your organization in the first place? What personal story about a client can s/he tell us?
- Celebrate the year: What has your organization accomplished? Highlights? Happy clients, staff, donors, board members and some event footage. The shiny visuals MUST be accompanied by compelling data points—connect the donor’s gift with the change seen in the lives of your clients. Accountability is compelling.
Now let’s look at the event video in action:
Gala Video – KCSARC
We recently created a video for King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) to screen during their annual breakfast. The video tells the story of a student affected by the sexual assault of a friend and her struggles to bring primary (systemic and educational) prevention to her high school. Inspiring. This video was shown right before the “ask” which was made by this student’s grandfather, an advisor to KCSARC. Pairing this emotional video with a personally-connected ask was effective and the results were over $500,000 in donations that day.
Paddle Call – Zeno
We created a video about expanded services for Zeno, a nonprofit that provides fun and engaging math learning games to early learners in vulnerable communities. The video was shown toward the end of the program, and introduced the expansion of Zeno services to new communities—while showing us the adorable little learners (watch for the student in the tiara). After the video, the MC came on to ask donors to give during a “raise the paddle” ask— guests are encouraged by the event MC to raise their auction number card or paddle to donate at various levels to a special project needed by your organization.
ED Message – CHILD
We created a short welcome and thank you video for attendees of the annual fundraising luncheon for Children’s Institute for Learning Differences (CHILD). The executive director was called out of town for a conference, so before she left we recorded her message to play at the beginning of the program. It was short, heart felt and served as a very warm welcome to kick-off the event.
Here is the event video we created for CHILD for that same luncheon event. It was shown directly before the “ask” to help inspire the audience to donate:
In your pre-production planning, be sure to generate a complete list of all the different ways you can use the footage to further your fundraising goals, for example:
- Three minute gala event video
- Three :30 and :15 social media teasers to drive donations and event attendance
- 4-5 high resolution photos for flyers, case studies and PR opportunities
- Interviewee transcripts for blog posts, website and email blasts
Story, story, story.
As you’re working on the content for your video, don’t overlook the importance of story. Even a true client story should have an arc—a beginning, a middle and an end—preferably with some conflict. Nobody wants to hear story about happy people, who meet more happy people and they sit around being happy. In other words, do not shy away from the dark side of need when interviewing clients supported by your organization. You absolutely must ask the hard questions after rapport and trust have been established between the interviewer and the client. (E.g., Tell me about what it felt like when you found out you and your newborn were going to be homeless.)
Video is one of the most versatile tools nonprofits can tap to engage donors, volunteers, and community supporters. How will you add video to your next event? Go!
This post was written by Melinda Hohlbein Loeffler. She works as a director and production manager at HCFmedia where her primary focus is nonprofit video.