Written by: Doug Scott
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nonprofit video stories have the power to evoke an emotional response in prospective donors and compel them to act on behalf of your cause. In fact, studies have shown that 57% of people who watch fundraising videos go on to make a donation. Therefore, video storytelling represents an important opportunity to raise awareness, boost engagement, and drive donations. 

Whether you’re filming a video to raise awareness for your year-end campaign or livestreaming your next virtual fundraising event, these four video storytelling tips will help your nonprofit achieve fundraising success. Let’s get started!

1. Film for your target audience. 

People are more likely to engage with video content that appeals to their personal interests and preferences. Ensure your videos resonate with those most likely to support your cause by taking the following steps: 

  • Scan through your donor database. Segment donors based on shared characteristics, such as demographic information and engagement history. This will help you make informed decisions about your target audience’s preferred video content. For instance, if you have a large number of Gen X donors, you should stick to videos that explain how your campaigns, services, and programs work, since educational content performs best among this demographic
  • Send out a general interest survey. Solicit feedback from supporters to better understand their interests, communication preferences, and goals. Common questions include, “What kind of video content would you want to see from our organization?” and “Where do you prefer to watch our videos?” Then, appeal to these responses in your next video.

You might also consider researching video content related to your cause. Check out your competitor’s video content and determine which platforms or types of content their supporters engage with the most. Doing so will help spark inspiration and guide your own efforts.

2. Follow a narrative structure. 

The most effective nonprofit videos tell stories in a way that photos and written words simply can’t mimic. However, your video content should still have a full narrative arc and take your viewers on a journey, whether that be through your organization as a whole or through the lens of one specific beneficiary. 

Borrow these techniques from narrative storytelling to captivate viewers:

  • Introduce the main character. Tell the story of a real person or a group of people impacted by your organization’s programs. For instance, if your mission is to find a cure for childhood cancer, your character could be a patient or a parent who relies on your services. Ask for permission to include their name, face, and voice so that your audience can connect with them on a personal level.
  • Problem-solve. Introduce a challenge that your character faces. Then, show how your organization is working to solve that problem with the help of donations. Using the previous example, you could say, “With your generous support, we support research so that children like Sarah can have a cancer-free future.” 
  • Include supporting details. Get specific about your fundraising campaign and explain where a donor’s money will be used. For example, the cancer research organization might state that they’re looking to raise a total of $100,000 to fund a year’s worth of research. Or, they might express a need for small increments of $20 for a child’s medical bills, stating that every little bit helps.

Since this is a video story, remember to demonstrate your authenticity through visuals rather than an excessive amount of on-screen text. Include b-roll footage of volunteers in action, talking head testimonials, and voiceovers that convey your passion for making a difference.

3. Include a clear call-to-action. 

In the final scene of your video, encourage viewers to act, whether that be through clicking on a donation button, visiting your website for more information, or sharing the video with their own network. 

Research shows that an effective call-to-action (CTA) can drive meaningful engagement to your nonprofit. For instance, fundraising statistics from 360 MatchPro reveal that making your donate button stand out can result in a 190% increase in donations. 

For the best results, keep the number of CTAs to one or two per video to avoid any confusion. These calls to action can consist of a voiceover combined with on-screen text such as a link or button. Consider having your narrator say something along the lines of, “Follow this link to our donation page to help end childhood cancer today.” 

4. Adopt a multichannel marketing strategy. 

Once you finalize your video story, it’s time to push it live. Tectonic Video’s guide to video marketing suggests publishing your video content on Vimeo or Youtube, as these platforms provide built-in tools for tracking engagement. Then, share the link across your other marketing channels, including: 

  • Email: Ensure your email doesn’t fall into the dreaded spam or trash folder by using a compelling subject line like, “Learn how you can end childhood hunger.” Then, include a short message about your campaign, linking to both your video story and your donation page. 
  • Social media: Splice your videos down into short clips and post them to TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Use hashtags and encourage supporters to share your content with their own networks to boost visibility. 
  • Website: Embed video stories on your nonprofit’s website to increase the amount of time users spend on your site and engage with your other campaign-related content.

With multiple touchpoints, you increase your chances of reaching your target audience on their preferred platform and convincing them to donate. 

When created with care and attention to detail, nonprofit video stories can help you build meaningful relationships with viewers, increase traffic through your marketing channels, and reach your fundraising goals. However, video production can be a challenge if your team lacks the necessary experience. Consider partnering with an experienced nonprofit video production company to oversee the entire process and free up time for other important initiatives so that you can focus on what matters most: empowering positive change

About the Author: Doug Scott

Doug is the Founder & CEO of Tectonic Video. He has more than 20 years of nonprofit communications experience as a filmmaker, communications director, chief marketing officer and leader of two creative agencies for nonprofits. Doug is a global citizen having traveled to more than 50 countries. He earned his B.A. in Strategic Communications from DePaul University, and he’s a frequent guest lecturer at Stanford University on topics related to nonprofit storytelling and storytelling ethics.