Nonprofit Videos: Simple is Better than Complex
Nonprofits generally understand that they need to start using video on the Internet. But it can be tough to figure out exactly what that means. What kind of video should you make? What kind of stories should you tell? More than once, what we've seen happen is that an organization decides to make one video, because they don't understand exactly how to use video and so they decide to dip their toe in the water. They're starting with one video, and if that works for them, then they'll think about making more.
Then, because they are only making one video, they want to include lots of information about their organization. So the video becomes a little movie - a seven or eight or nine-minute long documentary-style film that tells about the work the nonprofit does, the people it reaches, how it gets its funding, how it was founded, etc. Because they're only making one video , it needs to contain an awful lot of information.
They work very hard on their video, and they upload their single video to YouTube and Facebook and wait for it to work magic for them. Which it doesn't.
Why not? First, on the Internet people don't generally watch long, complex videos. And second, one video presents only one chance to connect. People can easily miss it.
Now, there may well be a very good reason to make one longer video. For example, if it's going to be played at a live event, the audience will be happy to watch a longer video and absorb a complex story. But on the Internet, if people do find it, many will stop watching after just a few minutes. Not because they don't care. Because people tend not to watch long, complex videos online.
So - if your nonprofit is ready to start making video for the Internet, and you were thinking of making one long video that tells your organization's story, use your video production budget to make several short videos that tell smaller, simpler stories. Because several videos will give you several chances to engage with people online and they'll be easy to watch and easy to share.
Here's an example: if you're an animal shelter, why not make a series of one to two-minute videos that tell the stories of some of the animals you've helped? What could be more emotionally-engaging than showing an injured cat that you're helping back to health? Or the older dogs you're trying to find homes for? Or the little girl whose parents just adopted a puppy for her? Or the volunteer who fosters baby birds?
Short videos like these are easy to watch, and they're easy for people to send to their friends. They're telling your story - they're just not doing it all at once. And that's OK, because the reason you're making video is to create and nurture relationships with your current and future donors and supporters. And relationships require that you touch people more than once.
If your organization wants to start using video online, don't start by making a long, complex, documentary-style movie that tells us everything about your organization. Decide instead to make a series of five, or six, or ten short videos that tell simple stories of your good work. Then, use Facebook and YouTube, get them out there, and encourage conversation about them. Encourage people to share them. And to give you feedback.
That's a better way to dip your toe into the video pool.