Video for Nonprofits

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by Dorothee Royal-Hedinger

Making a video is totally doable for even smaller nonprofitsand don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you get it done in the credits.

Why Video?

For nonprofits and social benefit organizations, video is no longer just part of your fundraising dinner. Video has become an integral part of any outreach strategy that aims to raise awareness about a cause, gain new members, educate constituents and promote your mission. This guide will help you explore what kind of video is right for your organization, give suggestions for equipment and provide production and distribution tips.

What Kind of Video is Right for You?

In determining what kind of video you want to create, the first question to ask is, “Who is my audience?” Deciding whom you want to reach can help shape your message. For example, is this video for people who have never heard of your organization? Is it for existing funders, potential donors or volunteers?

Once you determine your audience, you can begin to develop the basic framework for your video. Here are some common types of videos:

• Intro Video: Explains the mission and achievements of an organization.

• Personal Story: Profiles one or more people who have been helped by the organization.

• Promo Video: Announces a contest or promotes a spe­cific campaign.

• PSA: Educates the public about a problem and points them to solutions and resources.

• Event Coverage: Profiles a specific event, conference, fundraiser or activity.

TIP: This is an opportunity to get creative! What’s unique about your organization and your community? What makes you stand out among other groups? You can also make your video special with original music, fun photos or archival foot­age.

What Is Your Call to Action?

It’s very important that your video include a call to action. Once your viewers get all fired up about your work, you want to harness their enthusiasm by providing information about how they can participate or help. Here are some common ways to keep your viewers engaged in your cause:

• Provide a URL link to your website where viewers can get more information.

• Ask viewers to sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your RSS feed.

• Suggest that viewers take action on an issue by contacting their local politician.

• Provide resources for viewers to organize an event in their community.

Tip: You Tube offers free video annotations that can include a direct link. Use this at the middle or end of a video to bring people to your website.

Production

When deciding on equipment, there are several different price ranges to consider. For $130-$300, brands like Flip, Canon and Kodak make light and user-friendly cameras. For $600 – $1,000, the Canon VIXIA HV30 is a good bet because it has an external microphone jack, can shoot HD quality and has an auto-setting that makes it easy for beginners to use. You may also consider investing in a tripod or monopod to help steady your shots.

Make sure that when you film interviews, you also shoot foot­age of people in action. For example, shoot people working with constituents, the neighborhood and scenery. Too many talking heads can make it hard to hold a viewer’s attention.

Tip: Keep in mind that viewers don’t mind an imperfect picture if the audio is good. Bad audio is extremely distract­ing so make sure you’re close enough to your subject when recording an interview and add subtitles if the dialogue isn’t easy to hear.

Editing

If your video is intended for a web audience, it should be be­tween three and five minutes long so cut it down to the most exiting elements while presenting a clear message.

Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier are commonly used editing programs as well as iMovie, which is installed on most Mac computers. However, if those options aren’t in your budget, there are several free online editing programs like Eyespot, JumpCut, Motionbox and One True Media. Also, if you’re looking to purchase editing software, TechSoup is a good resource that provides donated and discounted technology products for nonprofits.

Tip: Be sure to thank relevant parties in your credits. List funders, volunteers, participants and interview subjects. People love to see their names on screen!

Distribution

Where should you upload your video? Free platforms like You Tube, Vimeo and Blip.tv are good options for making your video accessible to a wide audience. These platforms allow people to comment and share your video as well as embedding them on their own websites and social-networking profiles. If you’d like to add your video to a variety of video platforms, TubeMogul is a good tool that allows you to up­load your video one time and seed it throughout the web.

Tip: DoGooder.tv is a free online video platform created specifically for nonprofit video. You Tube also has a nonprof­it video channel (http://www.youtube.com/nonprofits) that can help you reach the right audience.

Dorothee Royal-Hedinger is the founder and president of Fresh Cut Media, a production company specializing in videos for non-profits, social causes and sustainable brands. She is also the creator and host of OrganicNa­tion.tv, an online video series and educational toolkit exploring the American sustainable food system. She was previously New Media Strategist at See3 Communications, where she produced and distributed original web videos for such clients as the Sierra Club, Ad Council and Women’s Sports Foundation. Dorothee writes a weekly column about women in art, film and media for the Women’s Rights blog on Change.org.

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