Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
Illustration by Yuxin Qin
The video landscape is evolving, and the pandemic prompted nonprofits to consider how video is planned, produced, presented and consumed. Video is predicted to account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022. Nonprofits must not ignore the advantages that video communications have evidenced: programming, fundraising, and maintaining internal and external engagement can be achieved successfully with video when purposely planned.
The key is to utilize the organization’s resources wisely; budgeting for high-quality produced videos may not be a priority when considering the resources available. However, leadership must consider all options and then decide what works best for their particular needs. If people are not given adequate content, they will not share with others and the organization and its mission will fail to engage the community.
To get started, a single video must be prioritized and every aspect of it must be defined before moving on to the next. One question must be asked at every step of the planning process: Is video the best way to communicate the message?
Define the goal and audience
The primary goal should always be high video engagement. However, other goals may include attracting volunteers, creating organizational awareness or fundraising. The goal and audience will help define the length in consideration of where it will be distributed.
Define the message
What needs to be conveyed to the target audience to achieve the specified goal? This is the driver of all content. One of the best ways to share the message is by telling a story. A narrative is what draws people in and makes them watch a video from beginning to end. Brainstorming with team members and stakeholders can help generate storytelling ideas.
Identify the type of video and production
This is where the genre and style of the video are identified. Video content can be any format that features video film, animation, screencast, motion graphics, live action, gifs, photo montages or immersive media. It could be a documentary-style video, an explainer, a testimonial, a message from the CEO or a behind-the-scenes video. It could be live or pre-recorded, produced in-house or outsourced. The target length of the video and the production requirements (equipment, script, locations) will help determine a timeline.
Distribute and promote
Different platforms can reach different audiences. Email newsletters are one of the preferred ways to share content with the organization’s owned audience. If a social media platform changes their policies or protocols, it could affect the organization’s content and strategy. Therefore, it is wise for organizations to own their own content and drive audiences to their own platforms and websites, where it may be viewed without constraints. The video title, description and hashtags must be carefully crafted to reflect its purpose. Furthermore, investing in advertising on social media channels is a great way to increase reach of target audiences.
Innovate and stay informed
As social media platforms update and make changes, nonprofits must adapt, embrace innovation and try to stay ahead. For example, Instagram gave “I Donated” stickers to user accounts that donated on Giving Tuesday 2020. Videogame livestreamers fundraise for charities on Facebook, and Zoom added a donate button. Adding immersive video to the organization’s video strategy is a smart tactic if the message and goal makes sense for the medium, once the content has proven successful engagement.
Gather data, analyze, and repeat
It’s critical to look at the performance and reach of every piece of content that is shared. This will inform how the video strategy must be adjusted every six months.
A good video strategy will help nonprofit organizations communicate their mission, vision, goals and ideas in effective ways. It can help them prompt action and bring communities together in the form of mobilization, advocacy and financial support. Whether a video is or is not created by a professional with high-end equipment, getting the message across by telling a good story is paramount. Video technologies and the platforms where they can be shared on will continue to evolve, and leaders that draw on video strategies will be the ones that reap the benefits for their organizations and stakeholders over the course of time.
Arlene Islas is a 2021 graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. She was recently inducted into Nu Lambda Mu, the International Honor Society for Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy, and Social Entrepreneurship & Enterprise. She is a television director, producer, editor, director of photography and documentary filmmaker. She is manager of video communications at the University of Arizona, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art in Photography.
Learn more by enrolling in the Nonprofit Marketing and Strategic Communications Certificate from the ASU Lodestar Center's Nonprofit Management Institute. You'll gain additional knowledge and skills in marketing, communication, public relations and social media for the nonprofit sector.