5 Key Elements for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising Event Videos
At nonprofit fundraising events, the challenge is to communicate in an immediately compelling way why people should donate. You want people in your audience to write you a check at the event, not go home and think about it. Video is the perfect vehicle for this mission, because it's so good at creating an emotional response. But how, exactly do you build an effective video for your fundraising event? Here are five key elements.
First - the MOST IMPORTANT element is story
Human beings are hard-wired for story. Don't just present information about why you need donations. Instead, embed your information in story. You might summarize the history of your nonprofit, or focus on a particular aspect (the story of the people you help, or the story of the building you're raising money to renovate, etc). When you structure your video as a story, people get what you're doing and why it's important.
Second - from that story, emotion MUST flow
You're not telling your story so people can say, "Huh. Didn't know that." You're telling it because you want to provoke an emotional response in your donors. You want them to FEEL why they should donate, not just understand it. You want them to emotionally connect with the people you help. So script your story very carefully, and then support it with the visual elements - the video and photographs - that will work with the person or people who are speaking, to provoke that emotional response.
Third - use authentic voices
Sometimes, because they want to make sure they present a professional appearance, nonprofits consider hiring and actor or a professional voice artist to narrate their video. Be very careful with this approach, because people know the difference between a pro and a real, authentic person. A pro will provide a corporate-like feeling, and an element of packaging and separation. A real person will provide connection. This doesn't mean that using real voices won't be professional - watch this nonprofit video to see what using real voices can look like. Real voices underline the authenticity of your cause, and your organization
Fourth - end with a direct appeal
Don't be shy about asking for money. You're using your video to get people in the mood to give - so ask while they're feeling the emotions your video triggered. Do it sincerely, and gracefully, but do it. Don't risk ending the video and then asking. You want people to make the decision to give when they're still feeling the emotions you worked so hard to give them. You don't want the lights to come up, people to shift around in their seats, and that emotional response to begin to fade. So end your video with a direct appeal, and then follow up and ask again when you go back to the podium to continue speaking.
Fifth - consider your length.
When you're making a video whose primary purpose is distribution via the web, shorter is better. Prevailing wisdom says four minutes tops; many video marketing experts recommend even shorter videos. But, when you're playing your video at a live event, you can make your video longer, and include a more complex story, because people's expectations are different. Sitting in an audience while a video is playing is a little like being at the movies - we know we're here to watch, and we settle in for a longer video. We're also focused on the video - unlike an online viewing experience, where our attention is divided between the video, our email, maybe dashing over to Facebook, etc. A six or seven or even eight-minute video is perfectly appropriate for presentation at a live event - as long as each of those minutes is compelling.
These five elements will help your organization create a powerful video to play at your fundraising event. Here's one more tip: don't just shelve your video after the event. Re-edit it into a shorter version (or versions) and send it out on the web - YouTube, Facebook, email, website, etc. Use it in as many different ways as you can, because it communicates your story in an emotionally powerful way, and that's what triggers the desire to support your organization - not just at live events.