April 13, 2012

10 secrets to video storytelling success


“Protect Our Defenders,” winner of the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Award among small organizations.

At NTC, expert advice on best practices in telling your nonprofit’s story

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, brands, businesses, Web publishers, educators, video producers, storytellers.

JD LasicaIf there was one buzzword at last week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, it was storytelling. On Wednesday Debra Askanse wrote about our Future of Storytelling panel. And there were at least two or three other sessions about nonprofit storytelling.

One of the most informative was the session “Sight, Sound, and Motion: Video Storytelling and Using Video for Advanced Messaging” put on by Michael Hoffman and Danny Alpert of See3 Communications, which works with nonprofit clients to create compelling video stories.

Michael and Danny offered these tips on how to make your visual story work — and I’ll second all of these recommendations, since I know a little about video production.

Choose one message

1Here’s one of the biggest shortcomings of far too many videos. Settle on a single message — not three, not two. One. You don’t need to cram your organization’s entire message into a single video. Be selective. The more messages you include, the more muddled it becomes. Marketing folks have lived by this rule for decades.

Decide who you’re trying to reach

2You’re creating your video for a reason, right? It’s not to communicate to your staff. Or even to the public. “There’s no such thing as the general public,” Michael said. Target your audience and speak to them. Frame the story in a way that touches and appeals to those people.

Decide what you want them to do

3After you grab people’s attention, what is your call to action? You want to gently but forcefully direct viewers to take a specific action on your behalf. “How realistic is the ask?” Michael said. He pointed to YouTube annotations (see our article How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos) as a great, underutilized mechanism to make your call to action crystal clear — in text form that pops up during the video. “Every one of you should be using annotations in your video in some way.”

One video with a great call to action — Protect Our Defenders (shown at top, with screen grab immediately above) — won this year’s Nonprofit Video Award in the small organization category for best use of video for the social good. At the end of the 1:45 video you’ll see a way to take immediate action, transporting viewers to the petition page or letting them share it on Facebook or Twitter. (This gets a little technical: You add 15 to 20 seconds at the end of the video with these “buttons” hot-linked to your pages; only certain kinds of software can pull this off.) Continue reading

April 28, 2011

6 ways YouTube is helping out nonprofits

JD LasicaThe highlight of last month’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., for me came when Ramya Raghavan, YouTube’s News and Politics Manager, detailed all the programs and services that YouTube provides for the nonprofit community. At NTC, Google announced that nonprofits no longer needed to apply to each program individually — now an all-in-one application process was in place. Fill out an application form, answer a few simple questions and within 30 days you’ll be notified if you’ve made the cut. Qualifying nonprofits will be able to participate in Google Grants, Google Earth for Nonprofits, Google AdWords for Nonprofits and much more.

What was shocking, though, was that of the more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States, only 10,000 had bothered to apply for the YouTube nonprofits program.

Are you kidding me?

If you’re not participating, here are a half-dozen reasons why you need to get off your duff.

Video is a great way to tell your nonprofit’s story, Ramya said. “It’s the kind of connection that is very personal, very unique.”

YouTube gives nonprofits branded channels, Ramya said, “which means you can upload an image map banner and link back to your website, you can choose custom thumbnails for your videos, you can upload videos longer than 15 minutes — even a feature-length documentary — and you can put call-to-action overlays, or external annotations, on any video to drive action to your donation page.”

Watch or embed the 6-minute video on YouTube
Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

6 ways Google is offering free help to nonprofits

Ramya outlined six ways in which Google is offering free help to nonprofits:

1YouTube Insight is a self-service analytics and reporting tool that enables anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the audience for the videos that they upload to the site. “You can see who’s watching your videos, their age, location, gender, number of views, and you can even see at what spot in the video a person has (stopped watching),” she said.

2YouTube GoodWork. Nonprofits that don’t think they have the capability to create a video can apply to this program, a partner with Cannes Advertising Festival, asking ad creatives to make ads for nonprofits, for free. The top five entrants will be flown to Cannes, France, to participate in a nonprofit showcase.

3YouTube Direct is an open source uploading platform that you can embed on your website, allowing your supporters to upload a video directly to your YouTube channel, which you can approve or disallow through your moderation pane.

4YouTube Moderator allows any YouTube user to collect commentary, questions or ideas on your YouTube channel and watch the best ones rise to the top. Bring a group of people together on a topic of your choice and leverage their collective wisdom to vote on the best video and text submissions.

5Call to Action overlays is one of the most powerful YouTube tools, letting nonprofits create a text call to action that’s superimposed over their video, asking supporters to make a donation, text a text2give number or visit a url.

6YouTube Annotations is a new way for you to add interactive commentary to your videos. You can use it to add background information about a video, create stories with multiple story threads or link to related videos or search results from within a video.