Communication is the backbone of a successful development program. Donors want to know how their money is being spent. They want to feel important and that they have done some good. Communication comes in many forms, much of which you’re likely already implementing at your organization: newsletters, direct mail, phone calls, social media, and video. Is that last one intimidating? It doesn’t have to be! We break down how to plan and produce an effective, mission-driven video.
Video can be one of the most compelling forms of donor communication because it allows viewers to see and feel the story and message being conveyed. Viewers are able to hear tone, see emotion, and feel empathy for the subject of the video.
Videos provide a unique perspective and serve as an expression of why donors care. Through an alum’s success story, a patient’s recovery journey, or a volunteer’s impact, videos illuminate why your organization is the one that your audience should support.
TAG’s Emmy-Award winning videographer, John Freidah, shares insights about videos in philanthropy—and how to get it done right.
1. Strategy: Be strategic when planning the video. Don’t put someone in front of a camera without having previously discussed their experience or story together. John recommends you or your videographer hold phone interviews with subjects prior to shooting day. This is an important step to learn about the subject and tailor the interview to best capture their story.
2. Picking the right subject: When you are trying to decide who you want to interview, yes, you need someone with a story BUT you also need someone who is relatable, empathetic, and articulate. If you have a good story but can’t express it well, the story will be lost. So think about your most dynamic donor, personable patient, or vibrant volunteer!
3. If you are going to do it, do it right: This one may be tougher to come to terms with, but don’t skimp on production value. A viewer can easily discern between a professionally shot cinematic experience and an iPhone video clip. While quick snaps may work for more informal uses (such as Facebook Live stream or to capture a timely moment), to express your mission and case for support, prioritize professionals. Select a cinematography team that shares your passion and enthusiasm for sharing your message. Request and watch samples, ask questions, and interview them to be sure you share the same vision for the video.
4. Tell the story, ask for money later: These videos should be about, first and foremost, telling the story. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to raise philanthropic dollars, but you don’t want the subjects in the video telling their story and ending with an ask. Let them tell their story, let the audience feel the empathy, then find a creative way to market the video with an ask after it has been publicized. Videos are part of a larger plan—on their own they tell a story; together with other cultivation exercises, they sell your message.