October 19, 2010

What’s your video strategy to raise funds?

  • Buffer
  • Buffer

Photo by Fensterbme on Flickr


Video can boost donations in nonprofits’ year-end fundraising

Guest post by Michael Hoffman
CEO, See3 Communications

Adding video to your end-of-year online campaigns can help you achieve, and even exceed, your year-end fundraising goals. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know that video can connect people to the work you do every day in ways simple text just can’t match. We also know that the distance separating the web and television is narrowing. Your website is becoming a channel and the web is already a hybrid mix of media where video plays a dominant role.

If you aren’t developing a video strategy, you are not going to capture the mindshare of Internet users.

How big is video online? More than 85% of US internet users watched online video in July, and on average they spent more than 14 hours doing it. More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and there are as many people over 55 watching video on YouTube as there are under 18. You might think of Facebook as an important social network, but it is now also the third most popular video site on the web. And Cisco says that 90% of the world’s data will be video in four years. Holy smokes!

Bottom line: If you aren’t developing a video strategy, you are not going to capture the mindshare of Internet users.

So how can we put the interest in video to work for our organizations, specifically your year-end fundraising? Here are 6 ideas to get you started:

Reuse your existing assets

1While video can be expensive to produce, it can also produce large returns. One way to make video more affordable is to reuse existing assets. The American Jewish World Service (AJWS), for example, shot amazing video of their work in India, Uganda and El Salvador a few years ago. While the programs continue in those countries, the original video also referenced the work they were doing at the time around the South Asian tsunami. In 2010 much of their focus was on responding to the earthquake in Haiti. By re-editing footage they already had to include new material from Haiti, AJWS saved tens of thousands of dollars while still getting a relevant and powerful video asset. Start with an accounting of what video and photo assets you already have, and see how they can be put to work for your year-end plans.

Explore personalized video

2We have witnessed a very strong ROI from fundraising videos that utilize personalization. Personalization is a technique that uses your donor data to automatically insert the supporter’s name in the video. The viewer is then watching a video about them or their friends. This strategy powerfully cuts through the clutter of all the generic fundraising requests that happen at the end of the year.

Here’s an example of a video See3 produced in partnership with Charity Dynamics for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. In this example, the video would be used to get Beth Kanter’s friends to donate to support her participation in the event. Her name was automatically inserted, and all she had to do was share the link. If it were a real case, the links on the video page would go directly to Beth’s personal fundraising page. American Cancer Society saw a 10:1 return on investment from this effort. This personalization technique can be used to insert the donor’s name, asking them by name to step up an increase their gift in 2010.

Embed video on a donation page

3Video can compliment a donation page. Test, but be careful. When appropriate, a compelling video can persuade your potential donor to take the final step. When inappropriate, a video can distract or even prevent your visitor from making their donation. If you’re not sure whether your video belongs on your donation page, do a test run and track your analytics carefully. If you see conversions increase along with play-through rates, great. If your play-through rates increase but your conversions don’t, try optimizing with new content or removing the video altogether. Also be aware that if not set up correctly, video from non-secure sources can create security warnings on secure donation pages.

Use YouTube annotations

4YouTube annotations add interactivity to your videos by embedding a link into the video itself. Annotations let fundraisers bring their call to action to life by integrating a “click here to donate” or “learn more now” button into the action of the video. We’re big fans of using annotations.

Make a video for lapsed donors

5Lapsed donors are full of potential. For whatever reason, they’ve fallen off from your base. Video can be used to show them the critical work you are doing, creating emotional connections that can get them back to donating. Before you put time and money toward producing a video that appeals directly to lapsed donors, think about the context in which you’ll reach them. Do they need a reintroduction to your organization or cause? Can your existing video assets accomplish that? Focus on the context in which you present your video before you think about the content of the video itself. Often your existing video assets, maybe with some tweaking or different page context, will be effective in speaking to lapsed donors. Whatever you use, you have to remind them about what’s changed and what is particularly important now about making a donation this year.

Make a video that answers these questions

6Make a video that answers these questions: What did we do in 2010? Why did it matter? Why is 2011 even more important?

Isn’t this the heart of the matter? Tell them why they should care. The year-end recap buried in your holiday letters or fundraising emails will never do you justice the way a good video can. You owe it to yourself to get the most out of your good work through sight, sound and motion. Remember that your fundraising story is a narrative, so put the ancient art of storytelling to work for you. Putting a human face on your accomplishments is key and literally showing people what you did and where you’re going can make all the difference in fundraising.

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications. Republished from Beth’s blog.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

2 thoughts on “What’s your video strategy to raise funds?

  1. Hey guys thanks for this amazing blog. This is exactly what we do at mediasetfree. We have been around the globe to collect stories and works of people that are doing some amazing things. From building flood proof tents in Haiti to giving free concerts to children in Afghanastan. Helping others raise money for their orgs are easy, but coming up with the money to do it for them is hard.
    Look us up and if you need video made we will help.