Your charity’s videos are crap. Here’s how you can change that.

Still spending thousands of pounds creating project-focused videos for your charity that end up with 45 views on YouTube? Stop. Now.

If that’s your strategic approach to video it’s a waste of your time and money. It’s a waste of your viewers’ time. The best videos aren’t about projects per se; that’s only of interest to your staff or volunteers. In fact there’s every chance they don’t watch them either. The videos that will truly connect are the ones which people can relate to – you need to start getting better at storytelling. As Annie Escobar puts it: 

“It’s about the why, not the what. Showing, not telling. Feeling, not facts.”

 It’s worth remembering that just because you’re trying to tackle a serious issue your videos don’t always need to be sombre affairs. ‘Follow the Frog’ is a great example of humurous storytelling as a way of encouraging people to make positive change.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIkOi3srLo?wmode=transparent]

Think about the difference your non-profit makes. Those are the stories you want to be telling. Do everyone a favour and ditch the corporate, project-orientated, ‘how we do things’ videos and start really inspiring people.

  • Sue Rifkin

    I loved the humour of "Follow the frog" but it went on far too long and became tedious. Clearly this is a recruitment tool which is a different proposition to making a film for an annual dinner but no reason why this should be boring. The one’s I’ve seen have inspired the audience to part with record sums – that’s the true test.

  • Ross McCulloch

    I agree it could be slightly shorter but ultimately I think it will strike a cord with the target audience. Your final point is valid if we’re focusing solely on fundraising-orientated videos but what about videos which aim to influence how/where people spend their money or to bring about a shift in attitudes?

  • I totally agree that a lot of NGOs waste many on ill thought through video content strategies. In fact do some charities have video content strategies at all? I doubt it very much.I also agree with Ross that charities need to think about their communications much more creatively. What is it they are trying to achieve: raise awareness, raise donations, change perceptions, change behaviour, etc. There are different content strategies for each of these aims. Charities need to start to speak to their stakeholders more and ask them what they want to see from their video content. Information doesn’t need to be dull it can be entertaining, humorous, shocking, sad. What narratives do you need to construct to deliver your message. More importantly what is your message. Video is expensive. Stop producing mediocre content and get creative. Look at some innovative examples such as Follow the Frog, Mama Hope videos, Oxfam’s pregnant breakdancers, Ricky Gervais’s sketch for Comic Relief and so on. The number one piece of advice from me would be to stop wasting money ill-considered videos and spend the money to understand what your audience wants to see. Good old fashioned market research. You could even do it free via a WebMonkey survey promoted via Facebook, Twitter etc – and then spend the money producing something worthwhile.Let 2013 be the end of poorly executed charity videos – your donors deserve to see their money spent effectively and efficiently.

  • Love that Ross. To me, the key is for any charity to have a unique ‘personality’ and stance. It’s videos should represent this. If people can relate to that it will work. If they don’t, they won’t. At least they’ll react. Be brave. Be bland and fail.Here’s a little example of one I had a bit of an involvement with http://forevermanchester.com/video/

  • Adrian

    Personally, I rarely find time to watch anything with sound online. If it has subtitles I’m much more likely to engage with it. The message has to be clear and short too – 90 seconds maybe… HD lag more a barrier on the move than snappy low-res.

  • I agree entirely Ross, I really struggle when a charity/NFO constantly turns out highly polished but ultimately pointless video. I actually think that copy still has a huge part to play, as Adrian said above, many people find it to much of a distraction to plug in and watch a video, you need to give options. That said, great video that tugs at the hearts strings or stirs the emotions can be hugely effective. The Frog one above is great, too long but very well done.

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