Video has become an increasingly valuable tool for content marketers everywhere, and has been particularly useful in the nonprofit sector. The Nonprofit Times shared in a recent article that the video trend in 2015 will continue, and many nonprofit organizations aim to increase their use of video and images in order to maximize engagement.

Despite this fact, however, many of these organizations do not maximize their return on investment in video, or they undervalue the process and miss valuable opportunities to make an impact. For the most part, the possibilities of utilizing video in this sector remain largely unexplored.

Meaningful engagement is by far the most important component of great donor relations. When skillfully and artfully done, video can be so much more than a method to increase website traffic and click-through rates; it can deepen donor commitment in surprising ways. Video is a powerful stewardship tool; it can preserve a donor’s legacy, capture stories of impact and personal meaning, and inspire a strong emotional response that leads to action.

Compelling Content

The style and tone of your video will be unique to your organization’s culture, brand, and ultimately, your objective. Whether you are planning a fundraising event, campaign, or communications piece in support of a specific initiative, priority, or project, your philanthropic audience wants to be captivated and feel connected. They actually want to be moved to meaningful action, so we should be ready to deliver.

Where, when, what, and how all are questions that need to be answered in the video-planning process, but they’re relatively easy to answer. The tough question to answer is: Why will your audience care? Simple facts and statistics aren’t enough. On their own, blueprints and drawings of buildings won’t inspire truly transformational philanthropy.

It is too easy to forget this and get wrapped up in facts and figures and goals.

Telling a compelling story is vital to success, and integral to meeting an audience where they are most receptive. Storytelling is so powerful in the context of philanthropy because it builds a bridge between speaker and listener and contextualizes your organization’s aspirations within relevant and transferable human experience.

Even the most stoic decision-maker cannot escape the scientific fact that emotion plays a vital role in the decision-making process, but a compelling story might not inspire philanthropy if it does not emotionally resonate in a way that simultaneously builds trust with the audience. Finding balance is important. Too many heartstrings tugged may be fatiguing for your audience. That is part of the reason storytelling to inspire action is an art form in and of itself.

Surprising Benefits

Some opportunities might go unnoticed when communications teams are focusing on capturing a great story, meeting aggressive timelines, and managing their heavy workload. In addition, completing a project and moving on to the next thing may create an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that may hinder you and your team from making the most out of your investment.

It’s important to remember, however, that in order to truly make the most out of your video investment, each phase of the project should be seen as an opportunity to deepen engagement.

The Interview

For many organizations creating video, interviewing will be one component of the process. In our many years of researching philanthropy and donor motivation, we’ve learned that a great interview can in itself be a meaningful and beneficial experience to the interviewee.

  • When done correctly, the invitation of a donor interviewee affirms his or her value to the organization and can be a valuable stewardship opportunity.
  • The interview invitation process also provides a fantastic opportunity to reach out to donors or other individuals who might not currently be active and can lead to new conversations, or provide an opportunity to deepen their understanding of important initiatives.
  • A skillful interviewer can help a slightly less active or interested interviewee remember their original connection to the organization, and that can spark deeper engagement.

The End Product

Yes, the video might exist on a website, but its use could plateau without a thoughtful strategy. The fantastic thing about capturing compelling video is that the end product lives on in perpetuity to inspire philanthropy. Make the most of it.

  • Share your end-product with your interviewees! Make sure they receive a copy of the finished video, and a personalized thank you note.
  • When relevant and appropriate, encourage interviewees and participants in the videos to share their video on their social media networks.
  • Make your videos mobile friendly. More and more people are utilizing mobile devices for everyday tasks.
  • Think about additional modes of delivery. With a little reformatting, e-brochures or other items may provide great opportunities to share your vision in a creative way.


Whether the objective is to entertain, engage, educate, or all of the above, it’s clear that video is more than another online trend; it’s an incredible engagement opportunity.


Download eBook: “20 Ways to Use Your Donor Video Stories”