Getting the Big Checks – Non-profit fundraising videos

Getting the Big Checks – Non-profit fundraising videos

As part of your non-profit marketing tools, a fundraising video is an excellent way to quickly and succinctly pave the way for donations. No other medium allows you to emotionally engage your audience so fast.

Non-profit fundraising videos are a unique storytelling challenge, but there is a science to the method. There are essentially two strategies you can choose from to ensure your organization raises funds; an emotional strategy and a logical strategy.

The logical strategy for dollars is evidence and fact based. If your non profit is improving the landscape of how services are provided to your clients, innovative in how you provide care, and tracking outcomes, this method may be for you. Your donors are likely people and other organizations who are interested in supporting lasting and fundamental change and will give you money to help make that happen.

The tactics chosen to deliver this message can vary from interviews with experts and clients to motion graphics and music. Essentially you need a mini documentary about your organization.

Here’s a video we did for the Washington State Budget and Policy Center:

The emotional strategy is based on getting your audience to have an emotional connection to your work and your clients. This is the strategy to be utilized for non-profits that are in the trenches helping people succeed. The value your audience places on helping your organization is directly related to how well they know and connect with your clients. Greater connection = bigger donations.

Connecting your audience with your clients is best achieved through fundamental storytelling. This involves interviews and video footage supporting a story arc that can’t help but make your audience care about the people you are profiling. You can help shape the final words your client delivers, heighten emotion through music, and deliver compelling images (dramatized or not) of distress and success.

Here are two sample of videos we produced with an emotional strategy:


For Navos:

The two strategies can be combined, but one will always be primary.

Some other tips:

Keep it short. Five minutes is ideal. Over seven is counterproductive.
Keep your cast of characters short. For every person you give screen time to, your video will be on average 30 seconds longer.
Emotional stories do not require multiple stories. Quality of the story is far more important.
Don’t try and say everything. Fundraising requires a campaign – a series of short and focused yearly videos is better than one comprehensive video that you can only afford once. No one wants to sit through the same video again.
Pull from existing materials when sourcing client success stories. It’s ok to recycle a story from a newsletter you wrote; this is a completely different medium.