I once worked for a Council of the Boy Scouts of America that sought to honor a distinguished community leader during an annual dinner. The Council’s activities spanned some 17 counties, and the dinner was a mainstay of the Council’s annual fundraising schedule. Although I was assigned to help develop a major gift campaign (an entirely separate activity), because I knew the gentleman being honored, I stepped in to assist.
The honoree of the event was most deserving and had contributed greatly to the economic and social vitality of the region. However, he had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and was quickly losing his ability to speak and to move about freely. The photo above shows him – once tall and commanding, but now well advanced into Parkinson’s Disease – watching construction on a new art museum wing he helped to fund substantially. For an overview of the symptoms of this devastating disease, see the Parkinson’s Disease Information Page of the National Institutes of Health.
What to do if the honoree cannot give the usual acceptance speech (and when no family members can assist)? Video to the rescue!
For a modest budget (underwritten by a local bank I quickly identified), I was able to secure the services of an exceptionally talented local video expert whose normal business was to videotape depositions for legal professionals. We also obtained photographs (from the family as well as historic photos of the region), I developed the script, and roped-in the BSA Council Executive to serve as narrator. Local authorities and friends agreed to be interviewed.
The video expert and I then locked ourselves in to edit the film, we added “still” photos here and there, and voila! We were able to complete an attractive and entertaining video of approximately 15 minutes in length that replaced the acceptance speech with class. And, the video told a colorful and enlightening story about the life of one of the area’s most respected citizens.
The video was a success, and lessened the unease of the family during the annual dinner. The honoree simply rose silently and briefly from his seat, to be honored with a loud round of applause from the audience at the conclusion of the video. It was if he was indeed standing up at the podium giving his speech.
Sadly, it was not long after that this distinguished citizen passed away. His widow was kind enough to contribute generously to the Council’s capital campaign a few years later.
My point is, video can come to your rescue at critical times when you need to cultivate your organization’s most important prospects. It can make for a smooth, seamless presentation during special events (when community leaders and their families are frail, shy, or just plain nervous). It can also serve to document the history of your organization and the region in which you live, for the sake of future generations. We did some of that in this video production, in fact.
Video does not have to be an expensive pursuit, as some might suggest (especially fundraising consultants). If you think your project through carefully and consider your available talent and resources, you might be surprised to find all you need is close at hand. Clearly, video is a worthwhile investment in your overall development program, and I urge you to consider using it for appropriate occasions like this one.
I would like to put in a word for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “Our goal is to accelerate the best ideas in Parkinson’s disease research toward clinical testing and practical relevance for patients. By placing a strong emphasis on translational and clinical research, we ensure that new ideas are constantly flowing into the drug development pipeline.”
There are many outstanding professionals in the marketplace who can help you produce a quality video, like my friend Joe Cook at Coastal Bend Video Services. Having said that, it has also become popular for nonprofit organizations and businesses to make their own videos in-house, for more of a home-made “look and feel.”
Here are a few web pages to guide you:
- CauseVox and ListinInPictures have created the “Starter Guide to Nonprofit Video Storytelling” e-book. It comes highly recommended.
- If you are interested in predictions on video use for 2013, you might enjoy reading Christophor Rick on REELSEO, “What to Expect in Online Video for 2013″ (January 5, 2013).
- Video for congregations … you might enjoy reading, “Using Video” by Terri Matthes of the Episcopal Church Foundation (July, 2012): “Do you need a video for your capital campaign? Maybe you’ve had your heart strings pulled by glowing shots and the stirring soundtrack of your alma mater’s video or the local hospital’s. But is something that flashy appropriate for a church institution?”
- Not sure if videos really matter to the success of your nonprofit? The Christian SEO Guys report that having videos and photographs on your Google Places page improves the ability of visitors to search online and find you easily. If you haven’t discovered Google Places yet, you will want to check it out and enhance your visibility.
- doGooder Nonprofit Video Awards (YouTube). See for yourself what makes a great nonprofit video by viewing this webpage. “The DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards is an annual contest run by See3 Communications in partnership with YouTube. See3 is an interactive communications agency specializing in video, web, and outreach for nonprofits. We use new media to activate people and advance social causes.”
- Idealware has posted an helpful article by Kyle Andrei, “It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It” (May 17, 2012).
“For many organizations, a powerful and effective video means an emotional appeal that reaches out to viewers’ empathy to encourage donations, awareness or other forms of support. Triggering the right emotions in viewers can help them connect with your issue on a more personal level. One of the most effective ways to trigger an emotional response in a video is through music.”
Idealware posts other helpful video resources on this page of its website.
- Kivi Leroux Miller shared this helpful film resources website on her own (June, 2012): Lights. Camera. Help., and I wanted to post it on my blog as well.
- Check out MIT Tech TV, “How to Make a Video” (two slide presentations on SlideShare), Part 1 and Part 2.
- The National Council of Nonprofits posted a helpful article that includes supportive links, “Nonprofit Knowledge Matters – 2012 Year of Nonprofit Video.” “Video is perfect for transforming an abstract mission statement into a compelling and very personal story, an annual report into a moving piece about the lives your nonprofit changed, and an orientation packet for new board or staff into a dynamic welcome to your organization. Nonprofits are using video to celebrate their organization’s history, and even to convey their heartfelt thanks to donors. Consider this: In one weekend this video, created for the United Nation’s World Food Programme, was viewed over half a million times and raised enough in donations to feed more than 140,000 children.”
- Network for Good has posted a helpful check list, “11 Rules for Video Fundraising” by Elliot Greenberg and Davin Hutchins (July 24, 2012). “Using video in your fundraising campaign can be an easy and effective way to tell a story and capture the attention of your supporters. How does video fit in your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy?”
- NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network has a recorded webinar, “Why Bad Video Happens to Good Causes: Ten Things Your Nonprofit Needs to Know to Make Video Work for You.” You can find more information via this link (this program does involve a one-time fee ~ personally, I would suggest you join NTEN and get this and many other helpful educational webinars for a discount, it’s worth the investment.
- Here’s a helpful, hands-on resource from the small business sector: “Viral Videos: How to Create and Promote Videos People Love,” by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner (November 16, 2012). This post includes a podcast interview with Mark Malcoff, who has had great success creating humorous videos that have gone viral. Humor is also a good way to attract attention to nonprofit causes, in addition to the more serious type of video production discussed above. On a separate note, I find SME posts to be helpful for nonprofit work also, and would suggest you follow them on Twitter.
- Here is a helpful podcast from Social Media Examiner featuring Steven Spangler, “Using YouTube to Build Your Brand, Authority, Business” (February 8, 2013).
- Justin J. Ware of The Social Side of Giving blog has created a helpful article and video, “How to Shoot Quality Video Using Your Smartphone” (July 12, 2012).
- Laurie Sullivan has written an article for MediaPost predicting, “How Video Content Will Drive Search Engine Marketing in 2013″ (December 5, 2012). “2013 will bring the explosion of content that connects broadcast, offline marketing and online video. Streamed video content will become one of the biggest drivers leading to conversions from Web sites to search results to social pages in sites like Facebook and Twitter.”
- Have you tried Viddy? “Viddy is a simple way for anyone to capture, beautify, and share amazing videos with the world.” You only get videos that are a few second long with Viddy, but clever nonprofits can find ways to make this product useful for conveying their messages. Here is an insightful article by Lydia Dishman of Fast Company, “Viddy’s 4-Part Prescription for Becoming the Next Big Thing” (September 21, 2012).
- Mashable has a helpful article, “How to Get Started With Viddy” : “Haven’t you heard? Photos are so 2011. Video is where it’s at. More specifically, take a look at Viddy, a social video editing and sharing app that has just surpassed 26 million users.”
- You thought Viddy was short! How about 6 seconds? Twitter’s new app Vine has been used with success by businesses, and you can view a few of examples here, courtesy of Todd Wasserman of Mashable, “Brands Introduce Ads on Vine” (January 28, 2013). Nonprofit Nate has written, “21 Nonprofit Uses for Twitter’s Vine Video App” (January 25, 2013). And Catherine May has written for Reason Digital, “Five ways charities can make the most of Vine” (February 15, 2013).
- YouTube “Creator’s Corner” is YouTube’s creative hub for aspiring videographers “with big dreams and small budgets.”
- Greg Jarboe of Search Engine Watch has written (June 4, 2012), “How to Make Videos for YouTube Mobile”: “YouTube Mobile gets more than 600 million views a day, making m.youtube.com the #2 video-viewing website in the world – right after YouTube itself.” Clearly, the growing trend toward using mobile devices is one nonprofits should be watching. See my blog article, “Mobile Rising” for more information on that topic specifically.
- Last but not least … livestreaming a presentation – no, it is not the focus of this blog post, but I thought I’d post an online resource I found helpful, just in case, “Five Cheap and Easy Tips for Livestreaming Conference Content,” by Kristi Casey Sanders on Plan Your Meeting (PYM).