Mastering Nonprofit Video
By now, every nonprofit organization out there has heard about content marketing. In 2015, content is king, and there is no more engaging form of content marketing than video marketing.
Long gone are the days when a nonprofit needed huge budgets and ad dollars to shoot and air a high-quality DRTV campaign. With the snap of a smartphone, a little software and the use of the Internet, a video can be shot, edited, uploaded and shared in a matter of minutes. And we all know video is where your donors and supporters are spending their increasingly longer online time.
“Video is absolutely vital to the communications mix of any organization of any size,” said Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 Communications, a strategy, video and Web service provider to nonprofits and social causes. “We know what people do online and where they spend their time—video is increasingly the way.
“Things like Facebook engagement and social engagement stats are through the roof with video. Video is the fastest-growing service on mobile. Video is everywhere. Organizations need to be there,” he added. “And your supporters are being trained to expect video. You have to be there where your audience expects you to be.”
It’s not only donors and supporters who expect you to create and utilize video, either. Nonprofits themselves expect that video will play an even bigger role as time moves on.
According to Into Focus: Benchmarks for Nonprofit Video and a Guide for Creators, a report by See3, YouTube and communications strategy consultancy Edelman:
- 80 percent of respondents said video is important to their nonprofits
- 91 percent believe video will become more important in the next three years
- 92 percent value the investment they made in video
However, the report also found that nonprofit video budgets aren’t going up—in fact, some are even declining. It’s a strange reality, one that doesn’t make much sense given the major role video now plays.
Hoffman said that while that’s shortsighted, video also doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Most people carry around video cameras in their pockets these days thanks to smartphones, and sometimes those can create the best videos out there.
“Ultimately, what’s most interesting to me about video in the nonprofit sector is you don’t have to be a videographer— you don’t need lots of fancy equipment or [to] have a huge script and cast,” said Amy Sample Ward, CEO of Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). “It’s not a film, but making an incredible, touching, personal video about your nonprofit really just requires the story and audio so people can hear that story. It’s a way for your story to come through even if it’s filmed on a phone camera. It’s about making the story come through.”
Video is also a great way to illustrate the types of people or situations where programs are making an impact, added Ward.
In addition, video works. It’s great for articulating what an organization does, while also a smart way to emphasize a call-to-action. For instance, according to Ward, online fundraising and crowdfunding platform CauseVox found that one of the leading commonalities between crowdfunding campaigns that met or exceeded their fundraising goals was having a video at the top of the fundraising page.
Nonprofit Video Strategy
It’s clear through their online consumption that video is important to donors, and the numbers say nonprofits consider video just as vital. So how can a nonprofit successfully add video to its communications strategy?
The key is to develop a thorough video road map. One of the biggest problems See3 encounters is an organization announcing that it’s making a video, only to see it become a giant project with a tremendous amount riding on it. Expectations are raised on what that video will do, and anything that doesn’t meet those expectations is hard for the nonprofit to swallow. Instead, said Hoffman, nonprofits “need to experiment and lower the bar.”
For example, Hoffman suggested having staffers use their smartphones to make personal thank-you videos to donors. It can be a one-day ordeal—for every donation today, each donor gets a thank-you video. “Thank [the donors], tag them on Facebook, send them the link in an email—it’s a powerful, easy thing where the expectation of the viewer is not for something super-high quality,” Hoffman added.
It’s a perfect opportunity to practice shooting video in an inexpensive way and test the engagement of those donors. But before you start testing, your nonprofit should think through the entire cycle of the video. A video isn’t just about one moment of solicitation—or at least it shouldn’t be. It needs to be implemented in a way in which your supporters receive and interact with the information you share.
First, people need to become aware of the issue, then aware of your approach to solving the issue. Next comes solicitation, then stewardship, acknowledgment and retaining engagement. Video is a great tool to tackle all those rungs in the ladder, and it’s especially useful for donor retention—thus, you must think about how to use video in every phase of the donor cycle.