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The impact nonprofits have on their communities is invaluable.

Whether you feed the hungry or conduct life-saving cancer research, your nonprofit works tirelessly to power social good. Isn’t it time the world heard your story?

For most nonprofits, storytelling is the secret to a successful marketing strategy. Blogs, websites, and social media are common channels for raising brand awareness and gaining meaningful support through written stories. But let’s consider the future of nonprofit communications: video storytelling.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of nonprofit video storytelling and provide tips for creating your own compelling content. Here’s what we’ll cover:

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Video storytelling is an important marketing and communication tool for nonprofits.

 

Why is video storytelling important for nonprofits?

Nonprofits are in the business of changing the world one story at a time. Therefore, you probably already have the elements of a great story at your fingertips. Whether you choose to tell a story of perseverance or hardship, video storytelling has the power to raise funds, mobilize volunteers, and spread awareness for your cause.

Additionally, investing in video storytelling as a marketing tool can help your nonprofit:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Encourage social media sharing
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Convert viewers into life-long supporters

If your nonprofit hasn’t already started producing video content, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to deepen the connection between your community and cause. Don’t worry, though—we’ll show you how to take full advantage of the benefits that video storytelling has to offer.

 

Follow these five best practices for nonprofit video storytelling.

 

5 Tips for Successful Nonprofit Video Storytelling

When given appropriate attention to detail, nonprofit video storytelling can be an effective way to attract and secure donors. To ensure that you’re making the most of your storytelling strategy, we recommend following these best practices:

1. Appeal to Your Target Audience

Nonprofits sometimes assume that everyone wants to hear their stories because their work is important. But the truth is that in order to be successful in the world of video storytelling, you have to tailor your content to specific audiences.

When you know your intended audience, you can create videos that are guaranteed to grab their attention and appeal to their interests.

Deepen your understanding of your audience by:

  • Scanning your donor database for demographic information. The general age range, geographical location, and employment status of your audience can tell a lot about their preferred video content. For instance, if the majority of your audience consists of 18 to 24-year-olds, you can make a case for creating shorter videos due to the popularity of short-form content with that demographic.
  • Sending out a survey to get to know their interests. Send a survey to your supporters and be open about its purpose. Use these surveys to ask questions about their interests and goals. What motivates them to donate to your organization? Then, in your next video, appeal to these responses with content or messages that validate your supporters’ investment in your cause.
  • Researching the audiences that engage with video content related to your cause. Find nonprofits that are similar to yours and see how audiences interact with their video content. Which platforms or types of content do their supporters engage with most? Answering this question will help guide your own efforts.

With these insights, you can make better-informed decisions about which stories to tell and how to best tell them. As a result, you’ll have content that resonates with your audience and inspires meaningful engagement.

2. Hone Your Video Storytelling Approach

From educating prospective supporters to raising donations for your cause, nonprofit video stories can help your nonprofit in a variety of ways. However, if you want to maximize your impact, you need to understand the role that video content will play in your larger communication strategy.

Start by asking yourself: “What is the intended outcome of my video?” Do you want to teach your audience about a specific process or service that you offer? If so, educational content might be the right fit. Are you looking to raise brand awareness so that you stand out from the competition? Check out marketing videos.

Consider how these types of nonprofit videos can help you achieve your storytelling goals:

  • Organizational Videos: A brand film, or organizational video, provides an overview of your nonprofit, describing your origin story and mission. This core video asset can be shared with a variety of audiences across multiple campaigns.
  • Fundraising Videos: Fundraising videos build your case for support, encouraging current and prospective donors to contribute to a specific campaign. They can be included on your donation page, shared with your email list, or posted on social media.
  • Marketing Videos: Marketing videos build general awareness for your cause and organization. They target the widest audience possible to compel them to learn more about your work and can be embedded in your digital marketing materials.
  • Testimonial Videos: Testimonial videos allow your clients, donors, and partners to affirm your nonprofit’s impact with their own voices. These videos have the unique ability to evoke emotion in viewers by showing them the issues you tackle every day, making them a powerful recruitment tool.
  • Explainer Videos: Explainer videos show audiences what you do and how you do it. These films often use animations and graphics to explain complex issues, such as how new technology can prevent infant hypothermia.
  • PSA Videos: Public service announcements, or PSAs, are brief educational videos that strive to raise awareness and change behavior. They are critical for spreading lifesaving information, such as how smoking impacts public health or why dog owners should verify they are adopting from a legitimate breeder and not a puppy mill.

Whether you provide an overview of your organization or focus your efforts on a specific fundraising campaign, your nonprofit video stories should demonstrate your mission’s impact and make a compelling case for support.

3. Create a Narrative Arc

Mastering the art of nonprofit video storytelling requires you to take your viewers on a journey, whether that be through your organization as a whole or through the lens of one specific beneficiary. For that journey to be effective, you need to know how to tell a compelling story.

Borrow techniques from narrative storytelling and include these essential elements in your nonprofit videos:

  • Main Character(s): Nonprofit video stories need a compelling main character to inspire support. This should be a real person or group of people impacted by your organization, such as a volunteer, longtime donor, founder, or beneficiary. For instance, if your mission is to provide after-school programming to at-risk youth, your character could be a parent who relies on your services. If they give their permission, include their name, face, and voice so that your audience can connect with them on a personal level.
  • Dramatic Arc: Once you have a character, you need to hook your audience and get them invested in your story. Begin by introducing a challenge that your character faces, such as unequal access to healthcare. Then, show how your organization is working to solve that problem.
  • Supporting Details: Stories include extra information to make their narratives feel more real, and for nonprofit storytelling, this also means providing evidence. Perhaps without your nonprofit, 200 families in the community wouldn’t have access to safe drinking water. Include this fact in your video for context, but be mindful not to overcrowd your video with statistics.
  • Resolution: As your video story draws to a close, encourage the audience to get involved with a clear call-to-action, whether that be to like, share, and comment on the video or take the next step to donate to your cause. We’ll explore this topic in more detail in the next section.

Keep in mind that with the fast pace of the internet, you will need to get your audience invested in your video immediately. To ensure your audience remains hooked from beginning to end, use techniques to arouse emotion and rely on compelling visuals to show, not tell within the first few seconds of your video.

4. Include a Clear Call-to-Action

Empower viewers to be part of your story by showing them how to get involved and inspiring them to take action. A call-to-action, or CTA, is a short message that informs your audience of the action you want them to take after watching your video. This could be donating, volunteering, signing a petition, or simply sharing your video across social media.

When it comes to providing actionable next steps in your nonprofit videos, there are three key types of CTAs to choose from:

  • Verbal: A verbal CTA generally involves a person speaking or includes a voice-over, in which viewers are asked to subscribe, follow a link in the description, or support the issue at hand.
  • Text: Text, on the other hand, appears on the screen and explains how viewers can get involved. It can consist of a QR code, the date of your next event, or a bulleted list of next steps.
  • Button: A button can be embedded into your video and linked directly to a donation page or other online resource. CTA buttons generally have a short imperative message such as “Donate Now” or “Subscribe.”

It’s also important to use emotive language that creates a sense of urgency. For example, the phrases “sign our petition to become an advocate for refugees” and “donate to end hunger today” inspire immediate action.

With effective CTAs, your viewers will know that they can play a critical role in your organization and feel more inspired to lend their support.

5. Outsource Video Storytelling

In today’s increasingly digital world, anyone can take out their phone and record a video. However, if you’re looking for high-value content that’s guaranteed to generate engagement, turn to professional video storytellers.

Nonprofit video production companies empower organizations to tell their stories and specialize in driving results.

Here at Tectonic, we’ll guide your nonprofit through:

  • Pre-Production: We’ll help you build a solid strategy, select the right story, conduct audience research, and write a detailed script.
  • Production: We set up sound, lighting, and video equipment, conduct interviews, capture b-rolls, and create any necessary animations or graphics.
  • Post-Production: After we’ve captured your story on film, our producers and editors log interviews, select music, and put together the final product.

In the end, your nonprofit will have a valuable video story that can be used to increase funding and grow your mission.

These top nonprofit video storytelling examples are sure to spark inspiration.

 

Top Nonprofit Video Storytelling Examples

Nonprofit videos should amplify real-life stories and capture the importance of your work. Watch these video storytelling examples for inspiration.

A Vision for Stronger Neighborhoods: An Austin Story | Neighborhood Network Initiative

United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative helps communities solve their most pressing problems through outreach and support. Tectonic Video decided that the best way to explain the impact of the initiative was to focus on the story of one specific Neighborhood Network in Austin.

The film stands out for its in-depth look at how the residents of Austin band together to improve their community. Although it focuses on the people of one city, it catalyzes a national conversation about how to approach community development.

Kylie & Liza | Mutual Rescue

Mutual Rescue is a nonprofit that helps homeless animals find their forever homes with the families who need them most. Our team at Tectonic focused this story on the experiences of a 12-year-old girl named Kylie who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In her final days, she is comforted by a rescue kitten she names Liza, an “angel” who never leaves her side, and later supports her grieving family.

The testimonial interviews and home videos evoke emotion and demonstrate the positive impact an animal can have on a family. In the final scene, we included a text CTA encouraging viewers to rescue, volunteer, or donate to their local animal shelter so that children like Kylie can have a companion.

Al’s Story | World Relief

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that addresses natural disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. They partnered with Tectonic to shine a light on the refugee crisis and break down the stigma surrounding immigration.

The film tells the story of Al. When violent extremists burned down his mother’s medical clinic and attempted to kidnap him, he fled Iraq with his parents and they were eventually resettled in the United States. The video takes you through his journey, inspiring viewers to join World Relief in helping refugees rebuild their lives.


 

Nonprofit video storytelling is an essential tool for raising money, support, and awareness. If you’re looking for best-in-class content, consider working with a nonprofit video production company. Their expertise in video storytelling is invaluable, helping you to humanize your brand and inspire your community.

Check out these additional resources for more information about nonprofit videos:

 

Team Tectonic

Just some friendly advice from Tectonic Video.