Nonprofit Communications Toolbox: CaseSoup Serves Up Tips for Creating Great Videos


It seems like everywhere I turn I’m hearing about how I, a nonprofit communicator, can more effectively tell my organization’s story. For the most part, it’s pretty sound advice: tell stories about people (not missions); be open and honest; big-budget does not necessarily mean better; less is more, etc.

More recently, it seems the conversation has really focused on video production. Though once upon a time video production was a full-scale investment, these days companies like Flip make it easy and affordable to create compelling videos on a budget. And in 2009, YouTube launched its Video Volunteers program, which matched up volunteers with the know-how on video production to the nonprofits that needed them. Since then, it seems video is the wave of the nonprofit communications future – something to pay attention to, indeed!

So you can imagine my excitement to learn that the Case Foundation’s inaugural session of Case Soup would be on best practices for creating nonprofit videos. The guest speakers were Ramya Raghavan of YouTube and Basho Mosko of Flip, representatives from the two main tools in every nonprofit video producer’s toolbox. For an hour, the two fielded questions from the audience and though a lot of specific topics were covered, one key bit of advice kept coming up: content is king.

Whether you have a budget big or small, the most important thing you can do is first ask yourself, “What are my goals?” Do you want your video to spread awareness? Train volunteers? Say thank you to supporters? “Whiteboard it out,” says Ramya.

Once you’ve determined that, you can do some research to figure out what shape your video can take. Ramya advises spending a few minutes each day on YouTube to discover the type of videos that are getting a lot of attention, and what appeals to you. For examples of her favorite nonprofit videos, she pointed to the high-budget tearjerkers from Invisible Children and also a low-budget good time, the Pink Glove Dance from Providence Health and Services.

And though having a lot of views can be great for publicity, it’s important to make sure your video is reaching your target audience and  getting the desired results. YouTube Insight lets you learn more about your video viewers and it gives you an idea of when they are watching. And if you’re part of the YouTube’s Nonprofit Program, you can place text overlays on your videos that invite viewers to complete actions such as donating, signing up for more information, etc.

The possibilities for video are endless and with a little thought, your organization can really elevate its messaging. Whether you create something for your website to introduce your organization, or a thank you message that you embed in an email to your donors, as Basho Mosko of Flip pointed out, “Video is becoming the communication tool. If you have video and text next to each other, the majority of people will click on the video.”

And, let’s be honest, wouldn’t you?

You can watch the full Case Soup chat by clicking here.

(Photo: pedrosimoes7/flickr)

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