Story With Strategy: Eight Ways To Engage Your Nonprofit Donors With Video
Investing in high-quality video production can make the difference of a successful fundraising campaign.
Fundraising is a fine art. And in the nonprofit world, it’s essential.
Most nonprofits find themselves in the conundrum of doing work that’s incredibly valuable, but almost entirely dependent on a steady base of donors. No matter how important your work is, grants and donations will make or break your nonprofit. This is why a robust fundraising strategy is key to any effective nonprofit business model. And today we’re walking you through how we do it.
We’ve helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations across our city.
We swear, we’re not trying to brag—these are just the facts. (Want to check us? See numbers that talk here). In short, we know how to target, engage, and convert nonprofit donors using strategic video storytelling. And we’re here to share that wisdom with you. So let’s get to it.
As much as we're strategists, we're also storytellers.
Our approach to video always starts with people and place.
Our work is to tell your audiences who you are, what you do, and why the heck they should care, packaged into videos they can watch on a screen of any size. Our stories zoom into the little details that hint to the bigger stuff—the aside that says it all, the gentle look of a parent talking about their child. And we also zoom out, building a larger picture by weaving together interview footage, narration, music, and animation.
So, how exactly do we pair story with strategy? Here are eight tips to level up your nonprofit video marketing strategy:
1. Show exactly how funding will allow your services to continue or grow.
Make sure potential donors know where their contributions go, without question.
Be clear about what the funds are for and how you’ll use them — not just for transparency’s sake, but for telling a story of impact that will show your donors the difference of their dollars. Making sure your donors know, trust, and support how you plan to use their funds is crucial for building and maintaining donor relationships.
2. Think beyond the current fiscal year.
Nurturing long-term donor relationships is key to long-term funding.
As you fundraise year-to-year, returning donors will want to know how last years’ donations are helping you continue, deepen, or grow your services. Keeping returning donors engaged means you’re telling stories that build on each other and offering insight into how you’re learning from the past to navigate towards the future.
We’re lucky to have worked with multiple clients over multiple years to produce videos for their annual fundraising galas. This kind of consistency allows us to deepen our storytelling impact in turn, taking into consideration larger narratives of growth, resilience, and change.
3. Appeal to a variety of different logos, pathos, and ethos.
Telling an effective story that targets your donor base means balancing the emotional personal touches (pathos) with a sense of credibility (ethos) and a more numbers-based quantitative perspective (logos).
It’s some classic persuasive technique, and it’s not exactly a formula, but it’s a good checklist to refer to as you’re building your donor pitch. The key is to hit these bases, but do it creatively.
4. Consider whose voices you want to elevate.
Tell stories that come from the folks most impacted, while making sure that you’re honestly and ethically portraying any hierarchies within your organization.
As professional advertisers and marketers, we understand the danger of the “poster child,” and we try our best to walk a line that challenges this deeply troubling historical model. We strive to tell complex stories that consider representation and tokenization from all sides, using our skills to elevate your platforms and tell the most urgent, honest stories of our time.
5. Combine pre-produced video with a live video component for annual appeal events.
We love an annual gala, and we’ve got them down pat.
The key? Wow your audience, while creating room for spontaneous moments, conversation, and engagement. In the past we’ve produced make-it-at-home cocktail tutorials as fun icebreaker activities for audience members to follow along at home, and we’ve curated testimonial interviews with awardees and community members.
Using pre-produced videos, especially for digital events, allows you to transport your audience not just to your Zoom screen, but far, far beyond. We can capture B-roll or use your stock footage to show a day-in-the-life sequence or show highlights of past events. Combining video elements means you can not just adapt, but make the most of a digital setting.
6. Break down a longer video into bite-size pieces you can use across platforms.
Being efficient with your video budget means making the most out of your content.
We often suggest clients create a longer-form, “about” video that we can edit down into shorter highlights for social posts, or make slight variations to target specific kinds of donors. Considering most people’s short attention spans, having options for quick video content is always a good idea for reaching the people who don’t need much convincing to scroll onto the next thing.
7. Share directly with your biggest fans.
The best donor base starts with the people who personally know, trust, and support you.
Reach out to your biggest fans and ask them to share a post or add their own caption. Fundraising can feel cold, awkward, or demanding if it feels like you’re just asking for donations. Making it personal, tangible, and accessible changes the game. Use emojis! Have fans tag you! Create content that’s fun to share! Maybe even use exclamation points! (Tastefully, of course.)
8. Give one call to action, and make it time-bound.
Make your calls to action specific and strategic.
If you’re planning a gala, you may need a series of calls to action to match each stage of your fundraising plan. When crafting your calls to action, you’d want to consider how many people you’ll need to attend, what kind of materials or content you’ll need to create, when you’ll need it to go out, and finally, what specifically you need to reach your fundraising goal. (Is it 200 donors giving gifts of $200 or more? Is it 400 donors giving gifts of $75 or more?)
Keeping calls to action bound within a timeline makes goals feel more attainable, and adds that sweet amount of pressure to encourage donors to give NOW instead of later.
Ready to put it all into action?
Want to see how video can fit into your nonprofit’s fundraising plan? Share what you’re mulling over at [email protected] and let’s find a time to chat!