How to create an effective video for your nonprofit

Many nonprofits turn to video as a medium of communication to reach potential volunteers and benefactors.

  • It's visual,
  • It engages the audience,
  • And there are plenty of places to showcase it thanks to advances in technology.

While a short film can be a great tool for your charity, it's important to know some of the basics for making it effective. Follow these tips to ensure your video achieves its purpose:

Understand the value of video
Everyone loves a good story, and a video's combination of image and sound can help you tell one. With the incorporation of music, sincere stories, and compelling images, you can effectively pull at the heartstrings of your viewers.

Plus, there are myriad ways to broadcast your video. Post it on your nonprofit's website or social media page or project it on a big screen at a fundraising event. You can even use Facebook Live to live-stream an event or project!

Incorporate the right people for the job
The people in your video should be excellent communicators who are able to capture their audience with a compelling story. While many nonprofits opt to showcase their leaders in promotional videos, this might not be the best option. If they aren't strong public speakers, then consider featuring these important figures in a more candid way.

Additionally, your audience wants to see exactly how they're making a difference. Showcase interviews with the people who directly benefit from your efforts. For example, if your charity raises money for homeless services, set up an interview with someone who just received a meal or clothes from your philanthropy's programs. Just make sure that the person is comfortable being interviewed!

If you're showcasing this production to potential contributors, include a donor or volunteer in the video. Film them participating in an event or speaking about how meaningful working with your nonprofit has been. This allows your audience to identify with someone very specific.

Don't forget about your audience
Nobody wants to sit through a full-length film at an event or on your website, so keep your philanthropy's video short and sweet. Nonprofit Quarterly suggests keeping it between one and two minutes for web content and between four and five minutes for galas and events.

Additionally, be kind to your audience. Don't bore them with a documentary-style video that only talks about your organization. Instead, focus on the cause and how your charity has helped other people. Show pictures and videos of smiling faces, and avoid being too technical in interview topics.

Promote a call to action
One of the most detrimental mistakes a nonprofit can make when producing a video is to neglect including a call to action at the end.

What is the purpose of the video? Are you collecting funds, raising awareness or trying to bring in volunteers?

The film can be counter-productive if it doesn't clearly exhibit this final feature. In fact, it can serve as a distraction from your organization's real purpose if not done correctly. Whether you're asking viewers to fill out an online donation form or to come out to your next big event, make sure that information is clear.

Just like you would include a call to action at the end of a blog post or somewhere in an email newsletter, your nonprofit videos should clearly direct viewers to a specific action. 

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