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Guest blogger Michael Hoffman, CEO of See 3 Communications, is a leading authority in online video for nonprofits and a long-time consultant to nonprofit leaders on online fundraising and outreach strategies.
There is something magical about video.
Video brings your supporters into the world you live everyday; it lets people share the work you’re doing in their own communities; it can even turn a stale issue on its head.
But video shouldn’t be magic—it should be strategic.
Video requires the same kind of thoughtful planning that all your other communications, fundraising, and advocacy efforts do. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all formula for a successful video strategy since every organization has a variety of assets and opportunities.
Instead of focusing on that one video you need to do next, focus on how video fits within your larger organizational goals. Ask yourself: how can we use video to tell our story? How do we document our work and create a media library? How do we build organizational capacity to create regular content on our own?
Below is a checklist of things your organization needs to do to create a sustainable nonprofit video strategy.
Determine your current video assets.
Lots of organizations have more video assets than they imagine. Your organization has probably made a “dinner video” in the past. There might be old interviews or footage going back years. Do you have access to those original materials? Look back in your archives and figure out what you have and what is valuable. You may have incredible opportunities to repurpose this video: mix new interviews and new footage combined with old material and create something up to date at a fraction of the cost.
Find the people in your organization who have video skills.
Not every video has to be professionally produced. Think about the variety of videos you watch on YouTube—not all of them have the best quality. Start within your organization and find those people who are capable or interested in shooting or editing video. You may be surprised. Video may be one of the ways that staff, supporters, and donors can play a larger role within your organization.
Connect video to your fundraising efforts.
Consider how video can connect to your fundraising efforts. What are the stories of your organization that make people say “Wow”? Are there visual elements to those stories that make video a good choice to tell those stories? We have found that video is an increasingly important tool that can move that supporter to becoming a donor.
You should also be writing grants and asking key donors to support the capacity building work of visual storytelling. Donors may be more willing to support a video because everyone wants leverage on their dollar. But make it clear: “Not only do we want to use your funds to make this one video; we want to build our internal capacity to do more video more often.”
While you can do some video work in-house, it can pay to bring in the professionals for key online solicitations. At See3 we have been focused on making videos that connect directly to fundraising opportunities and prove their return on investment through donors gained and dollars raised.
Change the way you think about video.
Video is not an add-on. It’s a strategy and tactic within your communications toolkit.
Ask yourself the same questions you would ask about any of your communications initiatives:
- What are our goals?
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What is our message?
- What do we want our audience to do?
- How will we distribute our content?
- How will we measure success?
Craft your strategy with those goals in mind.
Nothing works optimally when you’re doing it at the last minute, and that’s particularly true about video.
Too many organizations get so lost in the excitement of video and the promise of “viral” that they forget about what the video is meant to achieve in the first place. Determine upfront what your goals are—fundraising, list-building, awareness raising, advocacy—and get your metrics in place from the beginning.
Video continues to grow online with roughly 30% of all internet traffic video today. How can you get more involved in getting that attention? Every organization is at a different place, so ask yourself: “What can we do next year? Let’s make a commitment to do more video than we did last year.”