Video Can Help Boost Donations in End-Of-The-Year Fundraising | Beth's Blog

Video Can Help Boost Donations in End-Of-The-Year Fundraising


Photo by Fensterbme on Flickr

Note from Beth: I’m planning a year-end campaign for one of my favorite charities and wanted some good tips on incorporating video.   And since, the busy season is coming up for all you nonprofit fundraisers – year end giving and Network for Good has just announced a Year-End Giving Challenge,  I thought a guest post from Michael Hoffman about you can incorporate video to power your campaigns was in order.  Enjoy.

Video Can Help Boost Donations in End-Of-The-Year Fundraising by Michael Hoffman

Adding video to your end-of-year online campaigns can help you achieve, and even exceed, your year-end fundraising goals. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know that video can connect people to the work you do every day in a ways simple text just can’t match. We also know that the distance separating the web and television is narrowing. Your website is becoming a channel and the web is already a hybrid mix of media where video plays a dominant role.

How big is video online? More than 85% of US internet users watched online video in July, and on average they spent more than 14 hours doing it. More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and there are as many people over 55 watching video on YouTube as there are under 18. You might think of Facebook as an important social network, but it is now also the third most popular video site on the web. And Cisco says that 90% of the world’s data will be video in four years. Holy smokes! Bottom line: If you aren’t developing a video strategy you are not going to capture the mindshare of internet users.

So how can we put the interest in video to work for our organizations, specifically your year-end fundraising? Here are 6 ideas to get you started:
1. Reuse your existing assets
While video can be expensive to produce, it can also produce large returns. One way to make video more affordable is to reuse existing assets. The American Jewish World Service (AJWS), for example, shot amazing video of their work in India, Uganda and El Salvador a few years ago. While the programs continue in those countries, the original video also referenced the work they were doing at the time around the Asian Tsunami. In 2010 much of their focus was on responding to the earthquake in Haiti. By re-editing footage they already had to include new material from Haiti, AJWS saved tens of thousands of dollars while still getting a relevant and powerful video asset. Start with an accounting of what video and photo assets you already have, and see how they can be put to work for your year-end plans.
2. Explore Personalized Video
We have witnessed a very strong ROI from fundraising videos that utilize personalization. Personalization is a technique that uses your donor data to automatically insert the supporter’s name in the video. The viewer is then watching a video about them or their friends. This strategy powerfully cuts through the clutter of all the generic fundraising requests that happen at the end of the year.
Here’s an example of a video See3 produced in partnership with Charity Dynamics for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.   In this example, the video would be used to get Beth’s friends to donate to support her participation in the event. Her name was automatically inserted, and all she had to do was share the link. If it were a real case, the links on the video page would go directly to Beth’s personal fundraising page. American Cancer Society saw a 10:1 return on investment from this effort. This personalization technique can be used to insert the donor’s name, asking them by name to step up an increase their gift in 2010.
3. Embed Video on a Donation Page
Video can compliment a donation page. Test, but be careful. When appropriate, a compelling video can persuade your potential donor to take the final step. When inappropriate, a video can distract or even prevent your visitor from making their donation. If you’re not sure your video belongs on your donation page try a test run and track your analytics carefully. If you see conversions increase along with play-through rates, great. If your play-through rates increase but your conversions don’t, try optimizing with new content or removing the video altogether. Also be aware that if not set up correctly video from non-secure sources can create security warnings on secure donation pages. Always look here when trying to raise awareness for treatment facilities.

4. Utilize YouTube Annotations

YouTube annotations add interactivity to your videos by embedding a link into the video itself. Annotations let fundraisers bring their call to action to life by integrating a “click here to donate” or “learn more now” button into the action of the video. We’re big fans of using annotations. Check out the video to learn more:

5. Make a video for lapsed donors

Lapsed donors are full of potential. For whatever reason, they’ve fallen off from your base. Video can be used to show them the critical work you are doing, creating emotional connections that can get them back to donating. Before you put time and money towards producing a video that appeals directly to lapsed donors, think about the context you’ll reach them. Do they need a reintroduction to your organization or cause? Can your existing video assets accomplish that? Focus on the context in which you present your video before you think about the content of the video itself. Often your existing video assets, maybe with some tweaking or different page context, will be effective in speaking to lapsed donors. Whatever you use, you have to remind them about what’s changed and what is particularly important now about making a donation this year.

6. Make a video that answers these questions: What did we do in 2010? Why did it matter? Why is 2011 even more important?
Isn’t this the heart of the matter? Tell them why they should care. The year-end recap buried in your holiday letters or fundraising emails will never do you justice the way a good video can. You owe it to yourself to get the most out of your good work through sight, sound, and motion. Remember that your fundraising story is a narrative, so put the ancient art of storytelling to work for you. Putting a human face on your accomplishments is key and literally showing people what you did and where you’re going can make all the difference in fundraising.

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications. You can learn more about online video and the work of See3 at

8 Responses

  1. […] If you work for a nonprofit, this is a very neat future.  If you do not work for a nonprofit, you can still use YouTube Annotations, but only with links to other YouTube video.  I can think of plenty of applications beyond fundraising.  Consider an online video talk about a paper, where you can actually link to the paper.  Found via Beth’s Blog, “Video Can Help Boost Donations in End-Of-The-Year Fundraising“ […]

  2. Thank you for a very timely and inspirational article on year-end videos. We are starting production this week for ours. I would love to see some examples you have rounded up as this is a huge issue for all nonprofits. The annotation feature will be especially helpful! Thank you again.

  3. Any stats on use of audio podcasts? We committed heavily into a podcast called The Bioethics Channel … nearing 40,000 downloads since February 09. Are there any best practices on how to use for fundraising?


    Lorell LaBoube
    Center for Practical Bioethics

  4. Anyone have any idea of cost to produce a professional video? We are not a non profit but would like to explore video for employment branding. Thanks!

  5. Yes, the opening of this sequence was totally kurobara-hen… and I liked the episode in general since it did what I had hoped for after episode 3: Take a breath and focus on the personae that are already there instead of inserting even more.

  6. […] Use video. This is hardly a revolutionary bit of advice but video can be a great way to say thanks, wrap up the year and talk about coming challenges or opportunities. Get some of your beneficiary and donor testimonials on video. Don’t limit video to the website. […]

  7. […] more on video I highly recommend Beth Kanter’s post on year-end video […]

  8. […] demand may seem daunting to a nonprofit with limited time and resources; however, Beth of Beth’s Blog makes some incredibly helpful suggestions that we have tweaked and expanded upon. Here are several […]