Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 47 seconds

The Reel Deal: How to Use Video to Drive Awareness and Donations

Facetime-LogoYou already know the power of video when it comes to reaching your donors. But with so many nonprofits using the medium, and so many video platforms and tools, it’s getting more challenging to figure out how to create videos that are memorable, inspire action, and reach your target audiences. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about the latest video tools, trends, and tips so you can create compelling content that drives donor engagement.

Getting Started With Video Tools and Apps
Since the majority of smartphones now feature high definition (HD) video capabilities, you really don’t need any other tools. Though you might want to explore some of the newer apps that will enhance your videos. Specifically, 8mm from Nexvio, Inc. puts an old fashioned touch on your video and Paper Camera (JFDP Labs) appeals to your more creative side with different stylistic options and distinctive filters.

When to Use Livestream And Recorded Videos
There have been a variety of live, streaming video tools that have popped up lately but the most popular ones are Facebook Live, Periscope, and Blab. Here’s what you need to know about each of them.

Facebook Live allows you to stream video live from your smartphone’s Facebook Pages app. Once you start the broadcast, fans are notified and can comment and chat while they’re watching the livestream.

Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, automatically posts your livestream to your Twitter feed.  

Blab allows up to four people to livestream together on the same feed. Think of it like a live talk show.  

While livestreaming is popular, it doesn’t replace the need for, and interest in, recorded videos. Livestreaming is ideal for enabling donors and interested parties to participate virtually in a live event such as a charity auction, gala, or Q&A with your celebrity spokesperson. Recorded videos are equally powerful at showing how your organization is connecting and contributing to the community in a format that offers more control because it is pre-recorded.

Creating Compelling Video Content
It’s probably a good thing that there’s no set formula for what makes a great video. Otherwise, everybody would be doing the same thing – and that would get old fast. Though there are best practices that have proven to tip the video views in your favor and they include:

  • Define a single goal before you start filming. Whether the goal is to raise awareness, drive donations, or recruit volunteers, be clear about the single focus for each video. By starting with the end goal, you will craft a compelling story and have a clear call to action that inspires responses.

  • Create a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Since stories are the most powerful and memorable way to get your message across, sketch out your visual story before you press record. And remember, since this is a visual medium you want to show an equal balance of talking and action.

  • Keep it short. The most successful videos are under two minutes, with the ideal range between 30 and 60 seconds.

  • Tell your story through your community, not your chairperson. The best way to get the word out is to feature donors and recipients talking about the impact that your organization is making on their lives.

  • Include a clear call to action that reflects the goal of the video. If you want people to share it, ask. You can say something like, “Our goal is to have 1,000 people see this video. If you’ve been inspired, share it.” The same goes for donations. If you let your audience know your fundraising goal and make it easy for them to click-to-donate after watching your video, you’ll get higher response rates than if you left it to chance.

  • Reaching Your Donors
    Once you’ve created that great video, you want it to be viewed far and wide. The most obvious places to post it are on your social media pages, including YouTube and Instagram, your website, and your blog. To maximize viewership, consider these tactics:

  • Feature a still picture of it in your email newsletter that leads people to the video. Both the newsletter and the video landing page should include the call to action and a one-click donation button.

  • If you’re doing a livestream, promote it in advance through email and your social networks so donors will it in their calendars.

  • Be sure your click-to-donate button syncs with mobile devices so readers can easily take action no matter where they are.

  • Extend the shelf life of your videos by blogging about the campaign or event you hosted and featuring the video, along with feedback from your audience.

  • Create a thank you video sharing the results of your campaign.

  • There’s a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to tap into video to tell their stories, build awareness, and drive donations. Especially when you consider Facebook users are watching 100 million hours of video every day. Over on YouTube, viewing has increased 40 percent year-over-year since March 2014. Adding to this are the results of the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. In their ranking of the most important communications channels, video and visual social media surpassed blogging and phone banking for the first time ever. And when you pair video with email marketing, you’ll see click-through rates (CTR) soar as analysts at Forrester Research reported that including video in an email leads to a 200-300% increase in CTR.

    As video continues to emerge as one of the most powerful and cost effective ways to reach your audiences, now is the time to immerse yourself in the medium as you prepare for the busy fall fundraising season.

    Pamela Starr is a Regional Development Director at Constant Contact

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