The Importance of a Video Strategy for Nonprofits

February 25, 2019

What are the most important elements that go into the process of video storytelling? You could say that you have to consider the subject’s story, the specific parts of his or her story you want to tell, and how you are going to capture it and produce it. Those are definitely important. However, we often find that a lot of people give little to no consideration about how those pieces of video storytelling fit into a larger puzzle. They forget the most crucial part: Video Strategy.

Having a video strategy prevents you from reactive, mindless, and wasteful video content creation. Imagine having a video strategy that not only tells the beautiful stories of your ministry’s impact but also helps you reach your fundraising goals, mobilization and recruitment numbers, and spread the awareness of your cause?

Everyone Knows Video Is Important

We’ve all heard the video statistics:

  • Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year.¹
  • Video marketers achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness.¹
  • The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video options.²

As you can see, you need to be doing video. It is our hope to take the conversation a level deeper to steer you into a more focused video content direction that will bear more fruit than what you have been doing in the past.

“Imagine having a video strategy that not only shares the beautiful stories of your ministry’s impact but also helps you reach your fundraising goals, mobilization and recruitment numbers, and spread the awareness of your cause.”

So here are 5 main considerations to developing an effective non-profit or ministry video strategy:


5 Considerations for Developing a Video Strategy that Delivers Results

1. Video is More Accessible than Ever

Ultimately, the goal of video content creation is to share the stories, emotions, and purpose behind your organization. Gone are the days where all of your video budget is eaten up by 2 or 3 $50,000 videos. People want a diverse mix of immediate, authentic and curated content. Consider the types of media that audiences digest today. They might jump between Facebook videos on their desktop at work, Instagram stories on their phone, and binge-watch two episodes of long format television on Netflix at night. There are no one-size-fits-all silver bullet solutions for your video strategy in terms of budget. However, there is one thing that is always consistent—your videos need to communicate empathy and authenticity. In the world of non-profits and ministries, the goal should be to draw people into the experience—into the joy, the pain, the empowerment, the life transformations, etc.

Consider the following mix of budgets for your organization’s video content creation:

Low Budget Video Projects

Use your smartphone to capture videos. Example: Monthly on-the-ground site updates (either LIVE or pre-recorded on your smartphone) to show real-time and authentic stories of your organization’s impact. These are great for organizations working overseas. Treat it as an opportunity to take people behind the curtain of your organization’s work in another country (if it is wise to do so). Example: Shoot a Facebook Live video when you take your trips to do on-site and on-field visits.

Medium Budget Video Projects

Buy an affordable video camera and microphone and create content that’s higher in quality than your smartphone. Example: Field interviews with staff. Put your employees and staff on camera. Surprise them while they are working. (They may or may not like this). Show people diligently working for your cause. Don’t glamorize it. It’s not always easy. Audiences will gain more insight into your organization and see you are the real deal. Example: Shoot a two-minute video with your volunteer workers stocking your food pantry, setting up for an event, etc.

High Budget Video Projects

Hire a video storytelling professional to reach strategic organizational objectives and give first impressions. Example: Fundraising campaign videos. You do not want to cut corners anytime you are considering a fundraising campaign or event, or anytime you are about to introduce your brand and organization to a new group of people (conferences, website, speaking engagement, etc.) Read more about this in #5 Below: Invest where it counts.

2. Make a Plan and Prioritize

Now that you have an overall sense of all the potential videos your budget can handle, it’s time to make a strategic plan and prioritize what stories and videos you will produce this year. This is what many organizations fail to do. Without a plan, you will make reactive decisions about content creation and expend sideways energy without actually moving the needle forward in your non-profit. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the most important strategic initiatives we are doing this year? (Fundraising? Events? Launch of new programs? Brand awareness? New partnerships?)
  2. What kind of communication and marketing channels will be used? (Print and digital campaigns? Online presence? Speaking engagements? Conferences?)
  3. Which ones will get a video investment? (Which campaigns and initiatives are core to what you do and who you are?)
  4. Will it be a low, medium, or high investment?

This plan could be fleshed out in many complex ways. What’s important to note is that once you create a plan, stick with it. It’s important for your organization to develop rhythms that plan out these creative solutions in advance so you can avoid the negative habits.

“Without a plan, you will make reactive decisions about content creation and expend sideways energy without actually moving the needle forward in your non-profit.”

Here are a couple of videos that were part of a Video Strategy plan for a local church, Princeton Alliance Church:

Vision-Casting Promo

This short, but effective promo video was used during a sermon series to promote the mission and vision of the church. It also doubles as a great video for their church website.

Missions Ministry Promo

This short promo was played during missions Sundays. It was meant as an inspirational piece to get people rallying behind the missions ministry at the church. It was also used for fundraising purposes.

Easter Opener

This video served as a dramatic opener for the church’s Easter sermon. It was used as a tool to refocus the audience before the lead pastor’s message.

Darlene’s Story

This story invited the church audience into a Community Groups experience through the eyes of a member, casting the vision for the purpose and impact of groups.

3. Elevate People, Not Your Organization

When planning out your video content strategy, make sure you remember that you are not the hero of your story, but the guide. You are not the focus of the story; the people you serve are. You serve a particular group of people because you deeply understand their felt needs and have the experience to actually help them. This concept of empathy and credibility and the Hero and the Guide is taken from Donald Miller’s widely-known book “Building a Storybrand”.³

“You are not the focus of the story; the people you serve are. You serve a particular group of people because you deeply understand their felt needs and have the experience to actually help them.”

Video Storytelling needs to encompass this same principle. Donors and newcomers to your non-profit can sense when an organization’s storytelling centers around elevating the organization instead of the people they serve.

So is it wrong to celebrate your wins and accomplishments? Absolutely not. If you want to share stories of the organizational wins, it is sometimes best to share stories of your staff or volunteers. Point the spotlight on the humble people on the ground fighting every day to advance your mission. Elevate your people, not your organization.

We produced a video story for a local ministry organization called New Hope Community Ministries. They wanted to show all the great work that was happening in their ministry, but they specifically wanted to elevate the people that were being served as well as their staff. What essentially came through was a beautiful story of life transformation facilitated by one of their most-beloved staff members. They also used this video at a fundraising event and raised 110% of their goal!

4. Share Your Expertise

Chances are that your particular field of interest/niche is ripe for a huge thought-leadership opportunity. What would it look like for your non-profit organization to start sharing insights and experience through a cohesive video strategy that informs and inspires your audience?

Here are some ways you could start producing Thought-Leadership Video Content:

  1. Share process-related content with the outside world. Videos that explain organizational processes to your outside audience can open the doors for people to engage with your brand. Examples: “A Day in the Life of a Missions Organization” or “What does it take for a $$$ donation to turn into one meal served?”
  2. Share stories of hardship and what you learned. Thought-leaders are leaders because they have learned from their mistakes. Use video as an opportunity to share vulnerable stories of the past and how you turned things around for the advancement of your mission and vision.
  3. Give strategic insights into popular topics such as Fundraising, Event Strategy, Successful Marketing Strategies, and Donor Engagement.

5. Invest Where It Counts

At the end of the day, even though video has gotten to be more democratized and affordable across the board, there is still a need for high-quality professional video that will accomplish strategic objectives. You do not want to hold out when the stakes are high.

These are the types of occasions when investing in a professional team could make or break your success:

1. Fundraising

We cannot stress how important it is to carefully plan and strategize fundraising campaigns – especially the video content that will support a campaign. Videos are usually the doorway into the story behind your fundraising campaign. It is the first impression of what people will be investing in. And remember, it will make a financial impact. According to a Google survey featured on Fast Company, 57% of people who watch a video for a nonprofit go on to make a donation.⁴

In addition to being of professional quality, your video has to be true to who you are. When strategizing your video content for fundraising, make sure your video team understands your brand essence before the creative direction of the project runs too far in the wrong direction. A professionally-produced video can still miss the mark and not connect with donors if there is a mismatch with your organization’s brand.

Oftentimes a video is not the first impression. It usually comes right before the big ask at your end of year banquet or fundraiser. It’s still extremely important to budget and plan this video accordingly because it can sour the moment. Wherever your fundraising video content goes, make sure you don’t cut corners.

2. Vision Casting

We would classify any video in the Vision Casting bucket to be any major first impression videos. These are meant to provide big-picture information and inspiration. These would be:

  • Main website video
  • Video to be played before keynotes and conferences
  • Campaign launch videos
  • Department or Program overview videos
Brand Video

This inspirational vision-casting video for Agape House of Worship was implemented on their main website.

Conference Opener

This short opener set the tone for the Rethink Church Rethink Mission conference.

Event Highlights

As an overview of the 2016 Collyde Summit, this video served as an inspirational look into the event.

Campaign Launch Video

This video for the Wilberforce School captured the excitement behind their “We Are Wilberforce” campaign.

3. Stories & Testimonials

Although we would recommend your organization to be telling stories consistently throughout the year in various levels of video budgets and investment, it is wise for your organization to keep 2 to 5 high-quality stories in your back pocket. These can have a pretty long shelf life depending on how you use them. They could act as your headlining stories on your website that don’t change for 3 years or they could be ones you privately share with investors in one-on-one conversations. These videos should be your best stories of impact. Although they may not be directly tied to a fundraising initiative or a vision casting piece, these video pieces will definitely have a great ROI.

So remember to keep these 5 Considerations in mind when for developing a video strategy:

  1. Video is more accessible than ever
  2. Make a plan and prioritize
  3. Elevate people, not your organization
  4. Share your expertise
  5. Invest where it counts

We know that crafting a video strategy can seem daunting. We promise that it’s worth it. It will not only save you money in the long run, but will also take you and your organization further than before. And remember, creative strategy is at the heart of everything we do. If you are looking for a creative partner that can help take your video strategy planning and execution to the next level, we are here for you.

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Sources (Links):
  1. Video Marketing Statistics You Must Know
  2. Non-Profit Video Marketing Strategy
  3. Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.
  4. Google Survey Reveals Patterns of How We Donate Money


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