Unleash the Power of Nonprofit Video Storytelling in 5 Steps

Unleash the Power of Nonprofit Video Storytelling in 5 Steps

Chances are your nonprofit tells stories every day, whether that be through writing a blog post about changes in your industry, explaining impact reports in a board meeting, or describing your need for donations in a fundraising appeal. The ability to convey a story in an engaging manner is crucial for connecting with audiences and soliciting ongoing support. With video storytelling, this task becomes simple. 

Video brings your nonprofit stories to life in a way that written words alone cannot. Whether a short clip or a longer documentary-style feature, video storytelling can help your nonprofit engage supporters, raise awareness for its programs and services, and ultimately achieve its goals. In this guide, we’ll discuss the key steps involved in creating compelling video stories. Let’s get started! 

1. Define your video’s purpose

The first step is to decide what you want to achieve through your video. For instance, are you hoping to raise awareness for your nonprofit’s mission, promote an upcoming product fundraiser, or explain a pressing issue to the public? 

Consider how the following types of videos can help you meet your goals:

  • Organizational videos: An organizational video provides an overview of your nonprofit’s mission, goals, and values.
  • Fundraising videos: A campaign video makes a direct appeal to viewers for donations.
  • Testimonial videos: A testimonial video features real people who have been positively impacted by your nonprofit, sharing their experiences to help inspire others to support your cause.
  • Explainer videos: An explainer video breaks down a complex idea or process in an engaging way.  For example, you might explain how donors can take advantage of their employers’ volunteer grant programs.

Keep in mind that, while each video should have a narrow focus, your nonprofit isn’t tied to just one type of nonprofit video. Rather, you should produce diverse content to keep viewers engaged. For instance, you might create an organizational video to introduce new donors to your cause. Then, roll out a series of explainer videos to clarify how your programs work and solicit support through a fundraising video.

2. Identify a target audience

Choosing a target audience is another crucial step in video storytelling, as it helps you focus your efforts on reaching people who are most likely to resonate with your message and take action in support of your cause. This can lead to better engagement and ultimately better results in terms of achieving your goals for the video. 

To identify a target audience, begin by: 

  • Conducting prospect research. If you’re looking to target people outside of your current supporter base, conduct prospect research to determine who these people are and how best to appeal to them. Prospect research leverages public data sources to determine a person’s ability and desire to support your organization.
  • Scanning your donor database. Gather data about your current supporters to understand who they are and what they care about. An ideal target audience will have shown a vested interest in your current initiative. 
  • Creating audience personas. Using the information that you gathered in the previous steps, identify patterns in your potential and current supporters’ demographics, motivations, and behaviors. Then, develop one primary persona based on these commonalities and consider what type of messaging would appeal to them.

With a target audience in mind, you can begin tailoring your video content to their interests, preferences, and behaviors. This could include using messaging or visuals that resonate with the audience or featuring elements that have been successful in past videos. 

For instance, if you’re filming a testimonial video in the hopes of increasing volunteer sign-ups among college students, you might trim down your content and add interactive elements like polls and graphics, as these storytelling techniques perform well among Gen Z viewers

3. Develop a creative concept

A creative concept serves as the blueprint of your nonprofit video. With careful planning, it ensures that your target audience, goals, and message are accounted for in your final product.

Use the following scriptwriting elements to flesh out your story and create a comprehensive creative concept: 

  • Location: Scout various filming locations and choose the best fit for your story. For instance, an organizational video might take viewers on a journey through the communities you serve, while a testimonial video can be filmed in front of a simple backdrop. 
  • Characters: Center your video around real people impacted by your organization, such as beneficiaries, donors, volunteers, or board members. 
  • Narrative arc: Tell your main character’s story, introducing the problem they face and explaining how your organization has worked to solve it. 
  • Dialogue and narration: Schedule interviews with your characters and come up with questions to guide their dialogue. You should also create a script for any voiceovers that will need to be recorded.  
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs): Decide what action you want viewers to take after the video ends, whether it be making a donation, signing up to volunteer, or reaching out to you by phone or email. 
  • Post-production notes: Account for any captions, music, animations, or graphics that will need to be added to the video after filming.

Having a clear and compelling creative concept will guide the entire decision-making process throughout production, from choosing the right locations and casting the right actors to selecting the appropriate music and visual effects. 

4. Produce high-quality content

NXUnite defines video production as the process of budgeting, scheduling, casting, and coordinating various aspects of the filmmaking process, including gathering the right equipment, adjusting lighting, and directing each camera angle. 

If your team is overwhelmed by these time-consuming and complex steps, you should consider partnering with a nonprofit video production company. Having the support of someone with expert video production knowledge will lead to higher-quality content that inspires meaningful support for your cause. 

As you search for the right video production company, prioritize potential partners that can accomplish the following tasks: 

  • Narrow down your target audience. 
  • Write a detailed script. 
  • Schedule interviews.
  • Film using state-of-the-art technology.
  • Add high-quality effects, animations, voiceovers, and music. 
  • Export and share the video. 

The cost of partnering with a video production company will depend on the size of your organization and project. For instance, an organizational film that requires several interviews, location shoots, and graphics can start at a few thousand dollars. Request a quote from a nonprofit video production company to get an accurate estimate of the cost based on your project’s specific requirements.

5. Promote your content

Once your video is complete, publish it to Vimeo or YouTube, as these platforms have built-in engagement tracking capabilities. Then, Tectonic's guide to video marketing recommends actively promoting the video through a multichannel approach. 

Multichannel marketing is the process of sharing your message across several different communication channels, including:

  • Direct mail: It may seem impossible to share video content through direct mail–but it is possible, thanks to QR codes! Include a scannable link on flyers, invitations, and letters that directs recipients to your video. 
  • Email: Incorporate video into your next email campaign, with a compelling subject line like “Watch this video message from our team.”
  • Social media: Trim your video down to 1-2 minutes and post it to platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 
  • Website: Embed videos across your nonprofit website to increase the amount of time users spend interacting with your content. 

With multiple touch points, you have a better chance of reaching your target audience on their preferred platforms and resonating with as many supporters as possible. 

From planning and scripting to filming and distributing, each step in the video storytelling process is critical to creating high-quality content that showcases your work and inspires viewers to get involved. Whether you outsource the process to professionals or tackle it yourself, having a video storytelling strategy at your disposal will help you build stronger connections with supporters and make a greater difference in the communities you serve.

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