September 25, 2012

What to consider when investing in video

Hardware & software for telling your organization’s story through video

This is the first of a three-part series on nonprofits’ use of video. Also see:
• Part 2: 7 top video editing tools for nonprofits
• Part 3: Video for your cause: Getting giddy over Viddy

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, video producers.

Guest post by Stacy Laiderman
Senior Producer, See3 Communications

I‘m going to let you in on a little secret: Producing video in-house at your organization isn’t as scary as it sounds. More than ever before, organizations are using video as their primary vehicle for communicating their issues and telling the stories of their cause while the tech becomes easier for laymen to use. That’s not to say that you don’t need at least one professionally produced video. You do.

But organizations rarely have the budgets to hire pros to create every piece of video content. Creating your second-tier video content in-house is within reach. First, you need to know how to navigate the galaxy of good, bad and in-between products that is the video marketplace.

Here’s a roundup of gear and other things to think about from a seasoned producer’s point of view. Continue reading

May 2, 2012

An engaging, uplifting nonprofit promo video

Code for America from Inkerman Road on Vimeo.

Code for America: 5 tips on upping your video game

Lauren MajorCode for America, a nonprofit that uses technology to transform local governments, boasts a creative, compelling promotional video that not only clearly describes its message but also engages its viewers to get involved. In just five simple steps, any nonprofit can follow its example.

Be human and personal

1Be sure to make a personal connection early in the video. Many organizations and causes have a cohort of motivated, smiling people behind it. Bring these people to the forefront and show how upbeat and promising working for the cause is! Code for America illustrates its work environment by interviewing employees about what part of the job and cause they like. People are human and social creatures and are more inclined to stick with a video if they can relate to the on-screen subjects.

Use captivating visuals

2Watching a talking head is no fun for anyone. But listening to someone speak while looking at colorful flowers or a fun work environment is far more interesting. The supplemental footage in a video that does not capture a talking head is called b-roll. For example, Code for America’s video displays a shot of the office while founder Jennifer Pahlka speaks over it. Continue reading

January 17, 2012

How charity: water changes lives through multimedia

Water, the Web and high storytelling & production values

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, social enterprises, cause organizations, businesses and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) divisions, video producers, educators, journalists, general public.

This is part three of our three-part series on how nonprofits can create engaging multimedia stories that motivate supporters to take a desired action. Also see:

Creating compelling advocacy videos for nonprofits

How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos

Lauren MajorWith more than 1.3 million Twitter followers210,000 Facebook likes, and an extremely accessible and interesting blog called the charity: water log, the organization charity: water has successfully tapped the social media well, so to speak. We wanted to feature charity: water here because it is a nonprofit leader in social media and also because it embodies what it means for an organization to embrace all things multimedia.

charity: water uses multimedia to express heartfelt, character-driven stories about people affected by the water crisis

Stunning visual storytelling is the key to charity: water’s remarkable social advocacy and online fundraising success. In just five years, charity: water has brought clean, safe drinking water to more than 2 million people in 19 developing countries.

Mo Scarpelli, charity: water’s multimedia producer, recently sat down with me and shared some secrets to their success. Some 70 percent of their contributions come from online donations and online fundraisers, so it’s no wonder the organization puts so much love into its digital efforts. Scarpelli noted that charity: water’s digital storytelling drives their success – it’s how they connects and keeps in touch with their supporters. It helps that their founder, Scott Harrison, is a photographer himself and loves storytelling.

Who do they reach?

charity: water uses multimedia to express heartfelt, character-driven stories about the water crisis and the projects their donors are helping to support. Scarpelli explained that given the wide selection of content available online, website visitors are likely to tune out if their visuals are not compelling and professional looking. Crafting stories in an interesting way that people can connect with has really paid off for the organization and the people it serves. Continue reading

November 1, 2011

Creating compelling advocacy videos for nonprofits

This is the first of a three-part series on how nonprofits can create powerful multimedia stories. Part one is an overview of multimedia options available to nonprofits.

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

Lauren MajorWith the power of online video, social media and crowd-funding at an all-time high, nonprofits need a better understanding of how to create compelling multimedia stories that inspire a call to action.

Most nonprofits don’t have the resources to hire large film production crews to tell their stories. With recent innovations in digital video technology, nonprofits have more options for creating powerful visual stories in a timely and cost efficient manner. Socialbrite’s media resource round-up is a great list of tools and techniques to create media.

If time and staff resources are a scarcity, or technology just isn’t your thing, Socialbrite (I’m a partner through my consultancy Major Multimedia) can provide the expertise and training to help your nonprofit get its stories heard.

There are several options for nonprofit clients depending upon your needs, resources and technology know-how. We can offer training to nonprofit staff members and/or volunteers to learn how to create stories with an impact. Training will typically include uses of capture devices (Flip, iPhone, digital video/still cameras). Continue reading

September 27, 2011

Techniques to add dazzle to your advocacy video

Matanya’s Hope tells stories of Kenyan schoolchildren through photos & video

Lauren MajorMultimedia storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organization to attract funders, motivate volunteers and demonstrate the power of your message.

Our friends at Matanya’s Hope asked us to create a visual story for their nonprofit by seamlessly blending photos and video footage that they have captured over the past several years with original interviews, music and graphics we developed.

Founded in 2005 by Illinois native Michelle Stark, Matanya’s Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to educating children in Kenya. Last summer I accompanied Michelle to Matanya Primary School and saw the destitution these children and their families face: severe poverty, hunger, lack of clothing. And I realized why Michelle is dedicating her life to this cause.

For nonprofits and other organizations looking to capture their stories through powerful imagery, here are some simple tips for creating professional-looking video:

  • Use “b-roll” (stills & video)
  • Incorporate stock music
  • Use narration or background sounds
How to incorporate b-roll

By using B-roll – still photographs and short video clips referencing what the interviewees are talking about – you can make the video much more interesting than by solely using “talking heads” (straight interviews of people talking without any additional footage). As we are hearing Michelle talking about the children with “no shoes and torn and tattered clothing,” the still photographs visually reinforce what the interviewee is saying. B-roll also allows us to edit the interviews without a noticeable cut (“jump-cut”) in the action or picture on screen.

Use background music to add texture

Background music was also selected to set the mood of the video. Royalty-free music can be purchased online from a number of stock music websites for a modest charge. One of my favorites is Triple Scoop Music. There are also a slew of free sites offering rights-cleared music, generally using Creative Commons — see Socialbrite’s Free Music Directory. Continue reading

June 11, 2010

How to mash up a visual story for your nonprofit


Stupeflix & Animoto offer new ways to tell a story

Updated to remove RockYou, which has switched its business model to focus on games, and Slide, which closed up shop in March 2012.

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

In a world where we’re bombarded with 3,000 messages a day, it’s hard for nonprofits and social change organizations to break through the noise and get your message across in just a minute or two. But a new generation of multimedia storytelling tools lets you do just that. You don’t need high-end video editing software — just a compelling message, some good visuals and a knack for mashing up content and music in an eye-catching way.

Three companies that are helping to blaze the new multimedia-meets-Cuisinart terrain include Animoto and Stupeflix. The sites make it simple for you to upload photos — often from existing Flickr or Facebook accounts — add captions and music, and create a finished product that is both professional-looking and affordable.

Photo sharing services like Flickr and Photobucket let you embed a photo slide show — here’s a nice slide show by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation — and we like those, too. But we love the new breed of multimedia roll-your-own-video sites, which take visual storytelling to another level. You’ll notice that these sites cater to pop culture; don’t worry about that, so does YouTube!

Here’s a look at what they offer:


Among the most advanced in multimedia technology, Paris-based Stupeflix has a lot to offer. It lets you choose from four basic themes and upload your images from your computer, Facebook, Picasa or Flickr. You can easily arrange your images by using drag and drop and add a soundtrack by choosing files from your own computer. Preview your creation and export it for free or upgrade to a higher quality version for just a few dollars. You can automatically upload it to Facebook or YouTube for no cost, or remove the Stupeflix brand and create own your own commercially licensed video for $5! (Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have the rights to use the music or that you use only a small portion, though this area of fair use is far from settled law. However, if you plan to sell DVDs, make sure you’ve secured the rights to use of all content in the video.)

The video above created by Stupeflix highlights Seedcamp 2008, a gathering of entrepreneurs in Europe. It can be used as marketing material or as a highlight reel of the conference.

Just as interesting, though, is, an aggregation of tweets and Flickr photos updated to the minute and arranged based on topic. Check out this channel on global warming. Continue reading