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Crafting an Effective Fundraising Video

The goals of each organization or project can vary, but what doesn't change is the fact that video plays a vital role in online fundraising as a visual and engaging storytelling medium. With that in mind, here are 5 tips on crafting successful fundraising videos.

As industry professionals, we understand the power of online video. What’s even more appealing is that the majority of brands and companies are figuring it out, too. Ultimately, that means more work for video experts and storytellers. One of the fastest-growing markets for our skillsets is in the world of fundraising.

Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and DonateNow have exploded in the past few years and are giving entrepreneurs, non-profits, inventors and small businesses a chance at fulfilling their dreams.

The goals of each organization or project can vary, but what doesn’t change is the fact that video plays a vital role in online fundraising. That’s because it’s a visual and engaging way to tell stories and encourage people to support the campaigns. With that in mind, here are 5 tips on crafting successful fundraising videos.

1. Know the Platform

There are several different fundraising platforms out there. They all have their own set of rules and guidelines. The first thing we do when we’re approached with a fundraising project is to learn all that we can about the specific platform that our client is using.

It’s absolutely critical to know whether the platform has limitations on video length, size, codecs, interactivity, or other key specs. Some may allow for YouTube or Vimeo embeds while others require you to upload straight to the platform.

Additionally, it’s important to know where the video is going to be positioned on the campaign page. Focus on how large the video player is. If it’s a smaller player, then you may want to consider framing your subjects a little tighter in production, so that viewers make a connection with the people in your video.

You can also see if there are any buttons positioned on the campaign page, such as “Click to Donate” or something similar. Get creative with these and have your talent or on-camera subjects point to these buttons to direct viewers to the callouts. Check out this article on a breakdown of some of the top online fundraising platforms out there (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. Top fundraising platforms.

2. Tell the Story, but Don’t Show Off

As with any other video project, these fundraising videos need to evoke emotion. The whole purpose of the videos is to get viewers to believe in something and support the cause. Take a step back after your initial client call and think about all of the layers that go into a compelling video.

Ask yourself what the tone of the video should be: Are you trying to make people sad, mad, happy, scared or frustrated? Besides donating, what kind of action do you want them to take? Figuring out the desired emotion can help you select the right piece of music, visual style, camera setup, and pacing for your video. Be proactive and ask your client about these things during pre-production so that everyone is on the same page.

I strongly recommend that you do not pull out all of the bells and whistles for these videos. In most cases, the companies hiring you to produce the content are not going to have a huge budget, but if they do, creating something that is over-produced may lead viewers to assume that your client does not really need the money if they can already afford a Hollywood-style commercial.

Check out this example we produced for the Ruby Magazine Kickstarter campaign, where we used a person-on-the-street interview style video that tied together powerful audio and opinions from the target audience (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. Interviews for the Ruby Magazine campaign video.

Challenge yourself to focus on the story and try to keep it simple. Approaching it this way and producing a well-crafted story can be just as meaningful as a big-budget production.

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