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Nonprofit videos — ask these questions before you press record

Videos are a powerful tool for nonprofit marketers. After all, perhaps no online content has the same viral potential.

Why are videos so important? A video is a story so engaging and interesting that you can't help but have it told straight from the source. An effective video can transport viewers to your nonprofit's front lines in a matter of moments, capturing imaginations and touching emotions along the way.

This immediacy and sensory appeal are, in part, why videos are so popular. That doesn't mean, however, that making a stellar video is simple. Whether you're creating videos on your own or with the help of interns, volunteers or professionals, answer these questions before you press record.

What's the goal?

Are you using the video to create awareness? Inspire meaningful action? Show impact? Launch a fundraising campaign? Celebrate a win? Videos can do all this and more — just not all at once. Choose a single goal for each video and build it from there.

For example, a touching video can help donors feel the impact of their gifts at an emotional level. An inspirational video can be used to announce the launch of a new program or campaign, leaving viewers feeling excited and energized by what lies ahead.

Who's the target audience?

It's easy to focus on the organization, but is this what your viewers want? Plan video content with your target audience in mind, whether it's potential donors or teenage clients. Think about what viewers already know, and what they might like to learn about your work or about the bigger issue you're working on.

What's the best way to tell the story?

If you want to explain what drives your nonprofit or share insights into the culture of the organization, you might interview one of your founders about how it all began. If you're showing impact, you might feature a conversation with clients and their families or with your volunteers. Resist the temptation to simply make your CEO or program manager your default spokesperson for any video.

How will you grab attention from the first frame?

Most viewers will become captivated (or bail!) within the first 5 seconds of your video. With such a short amount of time to create emotional resonance, you'll need to get to the point — and quick!

How long is too long?

Varying video lengths might be appropriate for different screening platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook or a gala presentation. Still, shorter is generally better. As a rule of thumb, keep most videos in the range of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

What are the copyright issues?

Make sure you have the right or permission to use the images, words and music you've selected for your video footage. Adding a well-known music track can be tempting, but these usually come with high costs. Use creative commons platforms to find free-to-use resources and credit them where necessary.

How will you promote the video?

Post video links on social media. Facebook's algorithm favors videos, especially those that are uploaded directly onto the site. Embed videos into your blogs and other web pages. Feature them in your newsletters and other digital communications. For maximum impact, you might even look for ways to reuse and remix existing footage. For example, make shorter Facebook videos from a longer segment intended for a meeting or presentation.



MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.



Classy: 11 nonprofit videos that inform and inspire by Sean Chisholm (2013)

Nonprofit Quarterly: 10 mistakes nonprofits make with video by Joe Fox (2015)

4aGoodCause: 5 great nonprofit videos and how to emulate them by Ronald Pruitt (2016)

The Cause Agency: How nonprofits can master video storytelling

The Storytelling Non-profit: Storytelling through video

CharityComms: Creating videos on a shoestring budget (2016)

CharityComms: Supercharge your case study videos (2015)



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