Nonprofit organizations are struggling with extraordinary challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether facing difficulties in serving the needs of their target populations, surviving on the bare minimum of resources, or having to lay off staff, the landscape for nonprofits has drastically changed in ways that couldn’t be anticipated.
But the reality is that funds still need to be raised. And your organization still needs to get its message out.
Even though the pandemic presents difficulties for everyone, there is still an appetite for giving. Charitable giving has remained generally steady in 2020, with much of the money being donated through online portals.
Many people who participated in some form of fundraising were contacted through a video campaign, typically shared on social media. Videos continue to have the highest levels of engagement, so you should know how you can best utilize and share videos to maximize your giving campaigns.
To do this, use the resources you have. You don’t need to hire professional producers and editors to create award-winning video campaigns. Even if you have to work from home, all you need to get your fundraising video off the ground is a smartphone and some basic video editing tools.
Given that so many people are struggling during the pandemic, an honest, straightforward appeal for donations from a nonprofit will resonate much better than a glossy, overproduced — and ultimately inauthentic — form of outreach.
Keep your video short. Social media is a wonderful tool for communication, but the reality is that it is oversaturated with media, content, and notifications. In 2015, an advertising study published by Microsoft found that people have an average attention span of eight seconds due to the “increasingly digitized lifestyle on the brain” — and attention span has likely only shortened in the years since that study.
If you want your video messaging to be more effective during a pandemic — when people are working from home, with multiple screens and devices all around them — you’ve got no more than 60 seconds to make your fundraising pitch. Anything longer and most people will likely be distracted by a notification or be tempted to keep scrolling.
One important tool to use for your fundraising outreaches is a video editor that allows you to add closed captions.
As many as 92 percent of viewers watch videos with their sound off, either because they’re already listening to music or a podcast or because they don’t want to disturb those around them. If your video does not have subtitles/closed captions, then those 92 percent of viewers are likely to scroll past your message.
Instead, use an app that automatically adds closed captions for you. Some apps use speech recognition technology, which streamlines the process at the cost of some accuracy. Others might allow you to manually add your text to your video, which takes longer, but consumers will appreciate text and video that completely match.
Regardless of which method you choose, publishing videos that offer closed captioning will help your consumers find out about who you are, what you do, and what you need without significantly interrupting their multitasking.
There are other benefits of using an editing app. It allows you to cut and paste your video into a timeline, arranging the clips as you see fit. This enables you to give your story a narrative.
Your viewers won’t just see you speaking to the camera, but they’ll also get footage of the communities you serve and the people who volunteer with your organization. You can then include information about your website, a QR code, or anything that helps you put the word out about your nonprofit.
The key here is to use your editing tool to create a narrative. A cognitive scientist explains that presenting your pitch in a story format — with a clear beginning, middle, and end — can make your video 22 times more memorable than a video without a discernible arc.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers want human connections, even if it’s just through a device screen. Simply speaking into a camera does not resonate with viewers in the way human beings need to be approached. You have to tell a story, even if it’s only 60 seconds long.
If you tell this story, you’re much more likely to engage your viewers. This means it’s much more likely that you’ll increase giving for your nonprofit.
Another way you can utilize video for your nonprofit is to show your impact. Your video is going to be seen and shared by people who don’t know your organization and the work it does. Maybe they won’t even be aware of the populations and communities you serve, but they do want to know that during the pandemic, you’re doing good things.
That’s why it is important to highlight what your mission is, and what makes it unique and worthy of someone’s time and money. Introduce the audience to the programs you have and the progress you’ve made in addressing your goals.
Use statistics and dollar amounts as an effective way to tell this story. A testimonial from someone you have helped is a good way of capping off that particular outreach.
If a viewer can see the roadmap to your success, the good you have done, and the work that still needs to be done, they will feel a strong sense of trust and investment with your organization. This can increase giving across the board.
You can add other forms of media to your video as well. Audio recordings, pictures, PDFs, and video clips can all be included with smooth transitions and a consistent audio bed.
This can help you connect different pieces of the picture to deliver the story you want to tell — the need in your target community, what your organization can offer, what has been accomplished, and the need for more engagement and donations. You can easily record a video on your own screen and then save that recording as its own clip to be added as part of your final video.
You should make your call to action clear, but you should also enable your viewers to follow through on that call immediately.
For example, don’t overwhelm viewers with a list of all the things that need to get done or how great the need is. The easiest thing for a viewer to do is look at something else, so you want to keep their attention and focus on you.
You might make your call to action relatable to the coronavirus pandemic. Show you understand that your viewers are going through a tough time, and give your call to action scalable, tangible goals, so it doesn’t feel like you’re asking too much.
Explain how a single donation (of time or money) will lead to a quantifiable benefit for your target population. For example, “$50 will buy 10 books for a student,” or “One hour a week will help us make sure that our animal shelters remain clean and efficient.” Specifics help the viewer to see the actual difference their giving will make.
The key is to make the call to action clear and easy. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made things harder for your target audience, but your video can highlight how others might be suffering in ways they weren’t aware of. A clear message can help your viewers understand how their donation or time will be wisely spent for a struggling community, and this will lead to specific action.
This should be the final segment of your video, so the narrative leads cleanly to the call to action. It will inspire your viewers to take the next step to give to your nonprofit.
Finally, you need a tool that will help you share your fundraising video as far and as wide as possible. The good thing is, with social media, that tool is easily accessible.
With a simple link from YouTube or Vimeo, you can send that video out to your followers on an email list or your Facebook or Twitter pages. Though other sites (like Instagram) have restrictions on posting YouTube links, you can create a short post on those sites to tell your followers how they can see your newest content. You might even make a video for Instagram, using the material you already have.
Many websites that offer online services to nonprofit organizations take all the technical knowledge out of the question. All you would have to do is simply upload your video file to the website, and with the appropriate plugin, your crowdfunding page will be ready to go with just the click of a button.
Doing the hard work of serving your communities, and asking for donations, is difficult during a pandemic. But there are great examples of other nonprofits effectively reaching out in creative and compelling ways, even as they struggle with the reality of COVID-19.
COVID-19 doesn’t have to put a lid on your fundraising this year. With solid video tools, you can increase giving to your nonprofit during the pandemic. You likely need the funds now more than ever.
At Gather Voices, we are here to help you get your message out. Contact us today to learn how we can help.
Providing a Pandemic Safety Net, Nonprofits Need Their Own. (July 2020). The New York Times.
40 Charitable Giving Statistics and Facts. (June 2020). Balancing Everything.
You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish. (May 2015). TIME.
Mobile Videos Often Watched Without Audio, Study Finds. (May 2019). NextTV.
A Good Presentation is About Data and Story. (January 2015). Forbes.
Splice Is a Free, Feature-Rich Video Editor for iOS. (January 2011). Lifehacker.
The 10 Best Video Calls to Action That Are Guaranteed to Work. (October 2017). Wave.video.
Examples of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns During the COVID-19 Crisis. (March 2020). Funraise.
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