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What can nonprofits learn from political advertising?

We had the privilege of working with five different super PACs during the 2020 election to create a dozen ads to persuade people to not vote for Donald Trump.

Our ads racked up millions of views online, were profiled by NPR, MSNBC, and the New York Times, and were broadcast on Fox and CNN in battleground states.

It turns out that nonprofits can learn a lot from political advertising. We’ve identified 4 key takeaways that will make the videos you create for your nonprofit more engaging and effective.

View our case study video to learn more.

Key Takeaways

If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here are four key takeaways:

  1. Learn What to Say by Listening to Your Audience – Political ad makers don’t presume to know what’s going to persuade their audiences. They look at polling, market research and conduct focus groups to identify their winning argument and then craft messaging that resonates with their audiences. We do the same thing for our nonprofit clients, and you should too.
  2. Test & Iterate Until Your Videos Are Effective – Even if you’ve identified what your audiences want to watch, it doesn’t mean that your video is going to connect. Only by testing can you find out what’s working and what’s not. Nonprofits can do what we do with our clients, which is test the videos you create with a small group of donors, supporters and clients via online surveys or interviews to get their honest feedback and identify changes you can make to increase engagement.
  3. Go Narrow to Go Wide – Create content that is narrowly focused to reach a specific audience with a specific message to increase views, likes, shares and comments.
  4. The Messenger Is More Important Than The Message – Extensive testing during the campaign revealed that authentic, unscripted, first person testimonials are more important than the message or the production value of the ad. We know from our work with nonprofits that testimonials are some of the most persuasive videos nonprofits can create.

Our Ads

Here are a few of the ads we created for the 2020 election.

Douglas Scott

Doug is the founder of Tectonic Video. He has more than 20 years of nonprofit communications experience and he's humbled to lead an amazing team of passionate storytellers and artisans.