Using Short Videos to Spread Your Nonprofit's Message

Video is clearly one of the best ways to communicate your nonprofit’s message. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you about WHY you should be creating videos that highlight the work your nonprofit does. 

It’s the HOW part that trips people up. 

In this post we’ll look at some brief nonprofit videos that do a great job at communicating a message. To me, one of the best things about these videos is that you don’t necessarily need a ton of video production experience to be able to emulate them for your own nonprofit. 

I think one of the major takeaways from these videos is that you can do this yourself if you don’t have the resources to spare to hire a videographer. However, if you do keep your video under a minute long, hiring someone may not be as expensive as you think...and it could be worth it because an outstanding video can help increase fundraising exponentially. 

Let’s take a look at a few outstanding short nonprofit videos:

Graveyard Dogs in Bali

By: IFAW - International Fund For Animal Welfare

Why: The story of 11 year old Gung Dewi from Satriya helping graveyard dogs is simple. The video shares a powerful message of hope while outlining the need in just 70 seconds.

Who is charity: water?

By: charity: water
Why: 66 second video outlines the the problem, the mission and the results with narration over video of the people it serves. There are some nice overhead shots that could be hard to replicate without a drone cam but you don't need much to emulate this video in your own way - just some video footage, scripted narration, and music. 

Title: Let's Thrive With Nature

By: The Nature Conservancy
Why: This is another really simple (but beautifully done) video. The combination of music, narration, and multiple cuts of different video footage works really well. This is doable  for most nonprofits - you really just need some good footage, intense music (or not so intense!) and well thought out narration.

Title: Anastasia

By: Invisible People
Why: This is an example of how simple a video can be and still be compelling. Just a basic Q&A with a person can share a story. Mark Horvath has this technique down to a science by now so if you're doing interviews he's a really good person to follow and even reach out to!

Title: Our mother helped pave the way for birth control

By: Planned Parenthood
Why: This is another interview style video. If you have someone who can add in the awesome graphics, that's great, but you could just as easily substitute photos and still have a really nice video.

Title: One Moment: Become a Monthly Make-A-Wish Donor

By: Make a Wish America
Why: Never underestimate the power of slow-motion! This video is literally 30 seconds of footage of different make a wish moments with narration. Slow motion footage adds a little drama and when paired with the right music, it can really enhance your storytelling.

Title: Refugee from Eritrea: “I belong in America”

By: International Rescue Committee
Why: This video illustrates how to effectively share a timely message. The simple 55 second video gracefully takes the message of a service user in his own words and overlays interview video with various shots of Mulu in motion.

Title: We are one ocean

By: Greenpeace
Why: This video is essentially a montage of testimonial footage from several people to articulate the message. Asking members of your community to shoot their own 'selfie' footage could be a way to get people involved in your video project and lighten the production load a bit for you.

How to Create the Video

Now that we've checked out some excellent examples of short nonprofit videos, let's get a clearer picture on how to make one for your nonprofit.

How to make a great nonprofit video for Youtube

By: WholeWhale

This video by George Weiner of WholeWhale goes through many key nuts & bolts aspects of making a video. He discusses the importance of setting up a series of videos, building an audience by delivering value, starting with a plan, create a presentation, make sure audio is good, using a dslr camera, choosing music, having balanced lighting, creating an intro & outro (invest in one that you can use over and over again), using screen recorders, and much much more.

Title: How to make a video for non-profits (created for GlobalGiving)

By: What Took You So Long?

Created by What Took You So Long for Global Giving, this video offers 34 tips and examples for creating short films about non-profit organizations and international projects. They focused on 3 primary areas: directing and producing, shooting in the field, and editing.

The video discusses setting the scene, capturing honest moments, bringing local culture in your video, using powerful images to provoke discussion, ensuring that you don't exploit your subjects, sharing positive stories, using emotion to create connections, featuring local leaders, building a relationship with your interviewees, using 2 cameras, following the action, being colorful, getting rooftop shots, starting strong, adding drama, experimenting with background, adding imagery with music, utilizing local sounds and music, incorporating humor but not overdoing it, not over-relying on voice-overs, using external footage and much more.

Title: Nonprofit Video Toolkit - Part 3: Shooting

By: Flip Video Spotlight

The third video in the Flip for Good series teaches the basics of shooting your video - what to keep in mind, how to capture great images, having a shot list etc. Step by step walk-through on how to shoot a simple nonprofit video in a DIY way.

Key Takeaways

  1. Keep It Brief! Regardless if you're shooting your first video, launching a video series, or adding a new video about a recent campaign, you don't need to eclipse the 60 second mark to make an impact. You probably don't need to be reminded that today's internet users have a disturbingly short attention span. Keep the message bite-sized and put your best foot forward.
  2. You Don't Need a Breaking Bad Budget to Communicate Powerfully. Words matter. Anastasia's story in the video above sticks with you. She's battled addiction and wants to help people in her situation someday. A powerful story often needs no extra embellishment to make an impact in someone's mind.
  3. Your Subject Matter is All Around You. The above videos leveraged service users, volunteers, and local and industry experts to spread their message. You can do the same thing with those around you. Ask people who have benefited from your nonprofit to talk about their experience. Ask volunteers to share why they spend their free time working for your cause.
  4. Your Music Choice is Sets the Tone. You'll notice that most of the above videos use music very strategically to add drama to the video. There are a bunch of free or low cost stock music sites out there to choose from, but you may also be able to get permission to use a track from a musically talented fan of your nonprofit if you ask nicely!
  5. If You Do Choose to Hire a Videographer, Short Videos Won't Blow Up Your Budget. The idea of producing your own video may be a bit daunting, so you may decide to hire a local videographer. Professional videos can be expensive, but you'll find that the combination of taking the project off your plate plus a professionally edited video will be well worth the investment.

In Conclusion...

Putting together a short video that tells a story or shares the mission of your nonprofit is going to take some work to put together. Even a 60 second video will take some planning, but it's too important to pass up if you have the inspirational spark to make it happen.

The most important takeaway I can think of is to ask for help! Your organization has more fans than you may know...ask for help and you'll be amazed at what you create!

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