“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.
If 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 →
The multimedia consulting firm See3 Communications, NTEN and YouTube have announced that the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards for 2012. They’re accepting submissions through the end of February.
This year, winners have the chance to win one of four $3,500 prize donations along with great products worth an additional $3,500 provided by Cisco, free registration to next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference and a special prize to recognize fearless use of video, provided by theCase Foundation.
The winning videos will be announced at this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco hosted by NTEN and featured on YouTube’s home page on April 5.
How to convey a powerful message with videos & photos
Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, Web publishers, small businesses.
As regular readers know, I’ve been a longtime proponent of visual storytelling to advance the missions of nonprofits, cause organizations and businesses. (Heck, I co-founded Ourmedia.org before there was a YouTube.) People take action on behalf of a cause only when they feel an emotional connection, and yet nonprofits in particular are famously bad at telling their own stories.
What we tell people in our Socialbrite bootcamps and in our consulting work is this: Every nonprofit is now a media organization (the same goes for social enterprises and businesses). Never before have the tools of visual storytelling been so inexpensive, easy to use and accessible to the masses.
So why aren’t you taking advantage of visual storytelling yet? (Or are you? Tell us in the comments!)
There are dozens of ways to convey your story, and we’ve laid out lots of ways to get started — see the links at the bottom of this article.
Today we’d like to highlight a few best-of-breed examples of visual storytelling so that you can think about how to take a similar approach for your organization. At least one of the examples cited below should trigger an insight — an idea that resonates or an approach that you might consider using with your team or with a production partner.
Find people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and convey their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility
Remember, it’s not about the tools or the technology. It’s about finding people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and conveying their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility. Some can be elaborate productions, with narration, titling and musical score all working together. Others can be as simple as holding up a video-capable smartphone to capture a moment.
One you have a visual story, or several, that you can draw upon, you’ll be able to begin using it in your public outreach: on your website or blog, on your Facebook page, in your annual report, in your email newsletters. And don’t forget to enter contests like the DoGooder Awards, TechSoup Storytelling Challenge or CurrentTV’s just-ended The Current Cause, where $15,000 in prizes will be awarded.
Here are seven great examples of nonprofit storytelling:
And here were the 2010 winners. Observe how other organizations are telling their stories — which style did you like: earnest, funny, polished, grassroots?
2/ Digital stories using photos & narration
“Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons,” by Room to Read
digital storiesI’ve been involved in the digital storytelling movement since 2004. A vastly underutilized medium, digital storytelling uses photos, video, film or found materials, combined with voice-over narration, to convey powerful, evocative stories with a rich emotional dimension.
The first place winner, Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons, by Room to Read (embedded above), took advantage of visually stunning photos taken in Nepal and weaved together a simple 60-second story about the San Francisco nonprofit’s global literacy mission. Nicely done — with no video at all. This is something your organization can do on its own, no? Continue reading →
This year winners will again have the chance to win one of four $2,500 grants provided by the Case Foundation, video cameras from Flip Video, a free registration to next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference provided by NTEN and more. The winning videos will be announced at next month’s Nonprofit Technology Conference and featured on YouTube’s home page in March.
For many nonprofit clients I worked with over the years, we’ve talked about the power of video. Video is a great way to share your mission, messages and goals. The medium educates, makes others aware of issues, progress that’s being made, and the work that still needs to be done. Awards like these recognize nonprofits that see the importance in video and inspire others to try telling their own stories.
Last year there were 750 entries, 17,000 votes by the public and 150,000 views. Wow, right? Now it’s your turn. Here are some details to get you started:
Submissions for Best Small, Medium and Large nonprofit organization videos must be a video that was made in 2010. Entries for the Best Thrifty Video category can be for videos made any time before the end of the submission period. Each nonprofit can submit as many videos as they would like. No specific categories or missions are needed. Continue reading →