Text, words and speakers pale in comparison to the power of a well produced video. Nonprofits have a distinct communication advantage because so much of the work they do resonates with people on an emotional level. The key to communicating emotional impact is through good storytelling.
Nonprofits often make the mistake of focusing on services provided and data instead of their success stories. The fear is that if they don’t provide all the facts and describe everything they do, people won’t understand the importance of their work. The opposite is true. The best way for people to understand the importance of the work is to experience it first hand through personal stories. If you can speak to someone’s heart, then they will be curious and interested in the facts and information.
Finding good stories is often a lot harder than collecting data, so if organizations are going to be successful at storytelling it has to become part of their DNA. There has to be a collective effort to be on the lookout for good stories all the time. It can’t be a mad dash that happens one month before the annual fundraiser. It has to be a consistent effort throughout the year.
Recruiting people to be on camera can be challenging because stories are often sensitive and very personal. However, if you approach people with care and align it to the mission and vision of your organization, you will be surprised at how many people will say yes. When people have truly been helped and had their life changed, they are often gracious and want to give back to the organization that helped them.
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Focus on stories where people’s lives have been changed in dramatic and meaningful ways. These stories can usually be arranged into a typical 3-part structure that you see in most movies. The first part is commonly referred to as the “set up,” where we are introduced to the main character and learn about the world they live in and the challenge they are facing. The second part is the “confrontation.” Although this may sound harsh, it refers to a series of events that sets someone on a path to address their challenges and improve their life. The third part is the “resolution” where we see the payoff of the journey. It is here where we can see the impact of the change and what is now possible for the person moving forward.
Think about this pattern for a second. A person with a difficult challenge - a process of meaningful change - the opportunity for a better life. This is really what every nonprofit is trying to do for people. Your best success stories will fit nicely into this structure.
Check out sample below! Click here for more on this topic.
The biggest challenge for producing a good nonprofit video is not how to light the interview or what to shoot, it’s recruiting the right people. The work we do with clients is very much a collaboration and partnership. Clients recruit and find talent, and we capture the heart and soul of their story. As mentioned before, recruiting the right people for storytelling has to be an organization wide effort. When you think you have a compelling story, it is a good idea to sit down with that person and ask them a series of questions that will help them walk through their story. Here are some good general questions to consider.
The challenge: What hardship or challenge were you facing? How hard was it? How did it impact your life and family?
The process: What helped did you receive? How did it support change in your life?
The resolution: What impact has the change had on your life? What are able to do now or dream about?
When you listen to the answers, you need to pay attention to two things - the quality of the story and how well it is told. For a video to work, you need both a good story and a good storyteller. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who have great stories but have a hard time or are uncomfortable telling their story. As good as their story may be, you need to pass on these people.
Quite often a new client will come to me and say “I want to make a 3-minute video” or “I want to make a 5-minute video.” I always find this a little backwards. Determining the length for your video is a little like putting the cart before the horse. You should always start with your intended audience and purpose, and let that determine length.
One way to evaluate your audience is to think about how wide a net you are casting. If you are trying to get as many views as possible from as many different people as possible, you better have a video that is short and sweet and leaves them wanting more (90 seconds or less). If you have a narrow focus and are targeting a very specific niche, then you can have a video that is longer. However, I wouldn’t suggest going longer than 4-5 minutes unless you have really engaging content that will hold interest.
Another way to evaluate audience is to look at how well they know your organization. If they don’t know you, keep the video short - again 90 seconds or less. If you have a lot of good content that can’t possibly fit into 90 seconds then you should pick your best video to introduce your organization to new viewers and make it easy for them to follow up and watch additional videos. It’s all about empowering the viewer and letting them make decisions. Ironically, most people won’t watch a 4-5 minute video for an organization they don’t know, but they will watch three 90 second videos if you peak their interest.
Producing a heartfelt video with the right people and a good story is only half the battle. If no one watches the video, then all that hard work doesn’t matter. Most of the nonprofit videos that we make are shown at fundraisers and galas. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of presenting your video.
Every year we partner with a lot of nonprofits to produce videos. Some are first time clients and many are repeat clients. As mentioned earlier, producing videos is very much a partnership. And like anything, the more you do something the better you get at it. Something we’ve noticed with regular collaboration is that the process gets easier, the production costs go down and best of all the stories get better!
Nonprofits now more than ever are competing for limited funds and support. The winners in that competitive world are going to be the storytellers. You’re not going to be a good storyteller after one video. You’re going to be a good storyteller when it becomes a regular part of what you do.
Producing a good video is an investment and you should treat it as such. Make sure to evaluate your results and determine what kind of return you get on that investment. There are lots of different ways you can determine success when it comes to launching a video. Below are some common metrics used to measure video performance. Consider your video marketing strategy and pay attention to the metrics that align with your marketing goals. Here are some sample stats from the demo reel that is on our home page.
This measures how much of your video viewers actually watch. This metric is incredibly useful because it will show you if you are holding a viewer’s attention throughout the entire video. This is especially useful if you have a call to action at the end of the video. They can’t click on the CTA if they don’t finish the video.
Total plays tells you the raw number of how many times your video has been viewed. If you want your video to be seen by as many people as possible, then you'll want to track views. But view counts are not the be all end all.
The play rate tells you you what percentage of people that visited your web page clicked on the video. So given the sample above - roughly 1 in 10 people click on our demo reel when they visit our home page.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
If you have a call to action (CTA) like signing up for an email list or donating online, the click through rate (CTR) measures how often someone clicks on the CTA after they have viewed the video. Your CTR will show you how successful your video is at getting viewers to take the next step in your sales cycle.
You guessed it...this shows how many times your video is shared across different social media sites. In addition to engagement, it is another great indicator of how interesting your viewers find your video. A social share is very much a viewer sign of approval and it doesn’t hurt that it leads to more views.
I could not have asked for a better product or process. I enormously value the level of passion and professionalism that they brought to the project and I was extremely happy with the final results.
Tracy Maki Valley Outreach - Executive Director
As a Producer, Jeff has a gift for asking the right questions and getting to a story that is compelling and speaks to people's hearts. I could have not been more pleased with the finished product. It exceeded all expectations!
Jennifer Snyder Family Means
Storyboard Films produced a magnificent video for our annual fundraiser. They were easy and fun to work with and crafted a heartfelt story on a very delicate subject. More importantly we shattered our previous record for fundraising!
Ginger Venable Hammer Residences