Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Videos and Making the Donor Connection

Donors don't often get to see how their contributions make a difference in a tangible way. They rarely meet the students who benefit from their student aid gift, they can't visit the African village assisted by the clean water well that they funded, they don't hear directly from the families that received food and shelter because of their gift, they don't see their money building a ship to monitor the ocean environment, or are taken directly into the jungle to see animals they have helped save.

Each of the following videos attempts to visually provide a closer connection with their charity. Some are folksy thank-yous, some feature the charity founders, some their staff in the field. Some have fairly sophisticated production values and some are more modest. Regardless of their appearance, their authenticity helps create an aura of credibility. 

The first video from University of California, Irvine utilizes a clever animation technique that ties together the comments from students that have received student aid. It employs a classic "thank-you donor" approach.

The second video from Charity:Water, a nonprofit that helps fund drilling for potable water wells, is also in the "thank-you" mode and features their affable founder and his likable staff. He and his organization come across as the kind charity that a 20 or 30 something could get behind.

The third video eschews higher production values or gimmicks but provides unvarnished statements of gratitude from real people helped by the social services agency Sarah's House.

The next video from Greenpeace illustrates donor contributions in action as the viewer witnesses the construction of the third Rainbow Warrior environmental watchdog craft in a shipyard in Bremen, Germany. ("You wanted us to build a ship to keep watch over the oceans and look, we're building it!")

The last video is from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, England and the Aspinall Foundation regarding its lowland gorilla project. Follow Damian Aspinall as he visits a gorilla habitat in Gabon to see how a "reintroduced" gorilla that he raised in captivity is faring five years later back in the wild. The video does a great job of taking the donor right into the animal reserve in West Africa and reinforcing the value of the donor's contribution. Additionally, this particular video was focused on thanking donors who had made a second gift.

How can you use video to make your mission seem more immediate and tangible to your supporters? Consider the following:
  • Produce short video thank-yous featuring those served by your nonprofit.
  • Demonstrate what happens to a donation after it arrives at your charity. Follow the check from the minute it comes in the door until it funds a project.
  • Reveal a day-in-the-life at your organization.
  • Show before and after your organization impacts an issue.
  • Profile your staff and leadership as they speak with passion about their mission. Include everyone from your CEO to your janitor to illustrate both deep and broad commitment.
  • Create a "what if we did not exist scenario".
  • Record donors talking about how giving to your organization is a life-changing experience.
Send videos out by email, post them on your website, put them on YouTube, screen them at events. Who knows, they might even go viral. Or end up being featured on someone's blog!

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