Nonprofits solve some of the world’s toughest problems, but they don’t do it alone. Their efforts are often buttressed by a vast network of donors, volunteers, and allies across communities and government. Building strong relationships with this network is crucial for their success – and like all strong relationships, it starts with solid communication.
As businesses do with their marketing efforts, nonprofits need to keep communication flowing between them and their communities. This is how they can ensure that their causes and work remain relevant amidst the tide of society’s competing priorities.
If you’re a non-profit or charity, ensuring that your messaging is impactful and reaches as much of your target audience as possible is vital to your success.
The best way to do this? Video marketing.
Why do nonprofits need video marketing?
Video marketing involves leveraging video to promote a brand, product, or service. While “marketing” has very businesslike connotations, it’s a helpful way to think about non-profit outreach because the goals are the same: to persuade your audience to take action.
Nonprofits need video marketing because video is one of the most influential and profitable forms of communication today.
To put it in perspective, the wildly popular video platform TikTok directly contributed $7 million in donations to nonprofits using the app, according to a 2022 report by Hubspot. Furthermore, video is popular among all age groups, from teens to senior citizens, and people spend about 17 hours per week watching videos.
Numbers aside, science shows that video is capable of eliciting strong emotions when done right – the perfect precursor to an ask, like “sign this petition!” or “donate today!”
There are so many ways to use video, but non-profits can begin by using it to raise awareness, reach new audiences, engage existing donors, and showcase their impact.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, hired Rock Creek Productions to produce this Cine Award-winning video tracing the journey of a family, the Brawners, as they move into their new home constructed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
The ROI on video marketing is very high, making it a worthwhile investment of time and money – no matter the budget.
To make the most of this investment, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
5 tips for successful nonprofit video storytelling
1. Start With a Crystal Clear Objective
The very first step, even before ideation, is determining what your goal is with your video. Do you want to raise awareness about your cause? Are you looking for donations?
What parts of your story would you like to highlight? What is the core emotion you want to elicit from your viewers?
Whatever the objective, ensure you have a crystal-clear objective. The rest of the video production will depend on this initial step.
2. Start with a Captivating Intro
If you’re looking to publish your video on social media (as you should), note that you will be one drop in an ocean full of content competing for your audience’s attention: memes, advertisements, and especially adorable golden retriever videos. The first few moments must stop your viewers mid-scroll and hook them to watch the rest of the video. So, pour as much effort as you can into a strong start.
A good way to connect with your audience is to lean into a pain point or a deep concern they might be feeling (“Worried about ocean plastic?”).
Another is to lead with a startling statistic, such as “As many as 828 million people go hungry in the world.”
The more specific your message is to your target audience’s feelings, dreams, hopes, and desires, the more likely that you will forge an emotional connection.
Which brings us to our next point.
3. Create an Emotional Impact
Your viewers need to feel personally invested in the cause and why it matters. Tell a story that uplifts and inspires people or tugs at their heartstrings and spurs action. For example, you can share your beneficiaries’ struggles or triumphs in the face of adversity.
Use a robust storytelling framework, like the Hero’s Journey or The Story of Self, Us and Now, as a foundation, and choose your visuals with deliberation. You can use stark photographs or beautiful data visualizations to illustrate a problem – or a solution – clearly.
Visuals are important to the process but don’t forget the music and sound elements. Think of the soundtrack to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or the movie melodies of Hans Zimmer – they tell half the story. You want to choose the music behind your video carefully.
In this fundraising video by Rock Creek Productions for the Asheville-Buncombe County United Way, the music in the soundtrack follows the emotional pitch reflected in the script. Beginning with a slightly solemn piano melody as beneficiaries share their stories, it lifts into a grand, victorious orchestral once the narration goes into the positive impact the non-profit has had on its community.
Music and visuals are terrific tools, but to bring the best out of your story, you’ll need the help of professionals who know how to use them well.
4. Leverage the Power of Testimonials
Testimonials are a great way to build trust and credibility for your non-profit video’s message. Just as we look at reviews of what people have said about the products we want to buy, people want to hear and see how a non-profit has impacted its cause before supporting it.
Telling the stories of real people who’ve been helped by your organization or impacted by its cause creates a solid emotional connection with viewers that can then drive action. Humanizing your cause is powerful; testimonials can help viewers understand why the mission is critical, why they should care, and why their support is needed.
In this video for the Aspen Institute Youth and Engagement Programs, the Rock Creek team followed high school students as they went about their tours and tasks for the Aspen’s Young Leaders Fellowship program, which clearly showcased the impact of the program while also featuring interviews of students sharing their experiences.
5. End with a Resonating Call to Action
All the goal-setting, storytelling, and emotional-connect-building culminate to one end: the all-important call to action. A good call-to-action should be simple yet compelling, clearly defining why the viewer should support the mission and why their involvement is critical. Maximize engagement by creating a sense of urgency and speaking to viewers’ emotions as well as their logic.
Create urgency—for example, if there is an upcoming deadline or a limited number of spots available for an event or volunteer opportunity, say so. Additionally, emphasize how their contribution will benefit those in need, no matter how small it may be.
Finally, ensure that your call-to-action is easy to follow, with clear instructions on what viewers need to do to participate or donate. Make it as easy as possible to act right away by putting links in the captions and making contact information clear and visible. All these elements combined will ensure that potential supporters know precisely why they should take action and how they can do so quickly and conveniently.
Unleash the power of video storytelling today
A successful nonprofit video orchestrates the perfect story and energizes its viewers to act. But to get all the elements right, one needs professional help.
Rock Creek Productions is an award-winning video production company based out of Herndon, Virginia (near Washington DC), and Asheville, North Carolina. We have over 25 years of experience delivering reasonably-priced videos of the highest quality. We’ve worked with non-profits like United Way, National Constitution Center, Free Trade America, and Habitat for Humanity.
Want to work with us? Check out our work here and reach out to us today!