Video is becoming the undisputed winner of internet communication. The statistics before the pandemic were already attention grabbing:
These statistics were from a wonderfully researched infographic that you can view here.
But since the global pandemic started, internet usage, and particularly consumption of online video content, has skyrocketed and the statistics are downright dramatic:
Given this reality, how can non-profit fundraisers use this medium to raise as much money for our institutions as possible during this age of social distancing? I’ve been producing fundraising videos (and watching the market for innovative videos) for a long time now, and here’s what I’ve learned:
Throw out the rulebook
Video production can seem onerous and even intimidating, like you hire a specialized company to help you with this. But you can do a lot with video without even having to worry about getting a videographer or video editor. Consider this statistic: Viewers retain 95% of the message when they watch it through video.
That’s because video combines many elements of storytelling, including visual, auditory, emotion, and music. Essentially, video is more effective than almost any other form of communication because it incorporates visual, sound, and music, which adds a whole other dimension of emotion to it. If you look at the history of art, you can see it evolving from oral recitation, to cave and wall paintings, word on the printed page, other forms of visual art, then eventually you would have them together, like in theater. But it's really when the movie comes around that we see this explosion of interaction with storytelling.
Therefore, why you can make missteps with video, you don’t need to worry so much about doing video “perfectly”. If you don’t have the resources to employ a videographer or a fancy consulting company to produce it, do something simple on your webcam or iPhone with a tripod. In this instance, done is better than perfect. There’s no hard and fast rulebook but here are a few more points to consider.
There are 3 primary video styles you can consider: emotional, informative, and fun.
Emotional: Tell someone's story. In fact, tell the mission of your organization through one person's story. In higher education, usually this would be students or faculty. This helps your prospect make the connection between your mission and how one person's life was changed.
Informative: If you want to launch something that you've never launched before, perhaps a giving day, and your constituency doesn't know much about what that is and how that works, do a short informative video. Your video can communicate the information that they need in a way that they're more likely to absorb. They are much more likely to be truly informed versus if you just put up a text or a graphics post about that on social media.
Fun: Part of what makes annual giving unique is our mission to engage constituents at all levels in many ways. Our mission is to convey a sense of joy and fun and excitement around giving that gets people engaged in a whole new way. Here are some of my favorite fun fundraising videos.
Quality of Production
Some of your videos may need to be professionally produced. But videos that are candid and fun and done on a phone or webcam can be equally effective in the right context.
Very loose guideline: the longer your video is, the more likely it is that you're going to require professional help producing it. If your video is going to include interviews and B-roll and complex storytelling, you might benefit from having a professional work on that with you. However, if your goal is to get information out or to get people excited about something, you can do some fun short videos on your phone or even through Zoom.
It is wise to investigate best practices for making quality “homemade” videos though. Here’s a great post that can guide you there from Get Fully Funded.
Video length is a big topic of debate. It used to be that folks said no more than a minute and then it became no more than 90 seconds to increase engagement. Then, no more than two minutes. Now I'm hearing that longer videos are better. Essentially, it’s up to you. Test and find out what your constituency wants in terms of video length.
Generally, the fun content is typically going to be shorter and the emotional content will be longer because you need more time to get all that storytelling in. That's not a hard and fast rule. I don't think there really are hard and fast rules, basically.
Don’t forget about music. It makes everything more emotional. It is worthwhile to invest in good background music that fits the mood of the video that you're trying to put together. But be willing to pay for rights to music if it's the correct song that you need in order to make your video compelling. Music affects us at the subconscious level and enhances your messaging. Music draws people in and inspires them.
Once you’ve invested the resources into making a video, do everything you can to make sure it gets seen by the right people. I interviewed a good friend and video consultant Ndlela Nkobi about this topic a while back and his suggestions are spot-on.
How do you plan to utilize video in your fundraising this year? What ways have you used it with success in the past? Let me know in the comments!
PS: If you liked this post, you may also like these:
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Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.