Browse the slideshow below for tips on creating some of the most common types of nonprofit videos from the people behind some of the best examples online today.
Ramya Raghavan, News and Politics Manager, YouTube
Embrace the technology. High-definition video is becoming the standard, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality for price. Even the most basic cameras today shoot high-quality video.
Keep it short. “If you can’t get your message out in a couple of minutes, you may want to revisit your messaging,” Ms. Raghavan says.
Be Consistent. Don’t aim for a onetime viral video. Build a relationship through your content.
Take advantage of the technology. If you are on YouTube, be sure to use features the site provides for nonprofits, such as the call-to-action overlay tool that gives viewers an easy way to visit your Web site for more information.
Spell Out the Mission
Evan Von Leer, Online Communications Officer, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Use your connections. Talk to people working on the ground, grantees, and others to find great video subjects.
Establish universal appeal. Find the elements in your story that would interest almost everyone. For the Glaser foundation’s mission video, that element was a mother’s love for her children—the reason the foundation was created and the core of much of the work it does today.
Use emotion. Kindle a fire with new supporters and donors who have not given for a while. “We want people to cry when they watch our videos,” Mr. Von Leer says. “We want people in our offices who know our mission to cry.”
Make the best presentation possible. If a nonprofit has limited money to spend, Mr. Von Leer suggests investing it in a video that showcases the mission. This video is one of the most useful you can have to introduce people to your organization, appeal to donors, and show at events.
Get People to Take Action
Matthew King, Communications Director, Heal the Bay
Don’t talk to yourself. Work with someone outside of your organization who can provide a fresh approach to your issue. A pro bono ad agency helped Heal the Bay, an environmental group, reach a wider audience with humor.
Offer a solution. Use video to tell people what they can do to make a change. “Give people some hope,” Mr. King says.
Continue the conversation. If your video becomes popular, you want to keep the momentum going. Tie your video to a larger campaign or series of events.
Enlist a celebrity. “Some of these homegrown things have been just clever enough that they go huge, but usually if you can find some high-name talent to go with it, it can exponentially ramp it up,” says Mr. King.
Julie Whitt, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Donor Relations, Texas Christian University
Show continued impact of a gift. The university uses alumni as well as students to show how scholarships pay off.
Keep it real. Prepare questions and meet with your subjects before shooting, but don’t make anyone adhere to a script. Let them thank donors in their own words.
Set up the next “ask.” Help donors feel good about their investment, but also show them that the job isn’t finished and that you appreciate their continuing support.
Focus on when to release a video. The university issues its thank-you videos at Thanksgiving. “This is the best time to catch people and convey how much they mean to your organization,” Ms. Whitt says.
Document a Need
Chad Sisneros, Senior Director of Video, Humane Society of the United States
Be there. “We try to get out as much as possible,” says Mr. Sisneros. “You’re not going to find those stories often in your cubicle.”
Keep the camera rolling. You never know what footage you’ll need later or what great moment will happen next. When producing a documentary-style video, collect all you can.
Follow along. Don’t just sit people in front of a camera, follow them as they are doing something and capture their emotions and reactions then.
What matters most. “The big thing is the story,” says Mr. Sisneros. “If you don’t have one, you aren’t going to have a very compelling video.”