YouTube gets over 2 billion views per day and 35 hours of video are uploaded every minute. If you stop and think about it, it's pretty mind-blowing. Although quantity does not indicate quality (especially in the case of YouTube), I think these stats say something about the popularity of video.
What does that mean for nonprofits? Video can be a very powerful tool for getting across your message, bringing a story to life and giving it an impact that it doesn’t have in another format. It has the potential to take you somewhere around the world, shock you, explain a concept, demonstrate how to use a piece of software, let you step in to someone else’s life, or entertain you. There’s clearly an opportunity to take advantage of here - and many nonprofits are doing just that.
On the other hand, I would be the last person to suggest you rush to jump on the video bandwagon without considering why you are doing it and what you hope to get out of it. Even a simple video will take longer than you think, and you need to be realistic about how many people will actually view your video. However, if you’ve already developed a strong community with whom who you can share your video, you have a clear message to get across and you’re interested in experimenting, read on!
There’s a ton of great nonprofit videos out there to inspire you, so I can’t share them all. Here’s a couple of examples, one cute and one serious, that were finalists at the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards.
Videos are one of the most powerful ways to share the experiences of people in another country, and the also take one of the biggest investments to do well. CUSO-VSO understands this trade-off and focuses their efforts on producing one video series (like a mini TV show) each year. In this year’s ‘El Centro’ series, Sean shot the video footage himself and did an initial edit, then got an outside organization to give it the final polish. Not only did this save money, it also ensured that the right message got across. “We don’t want to make it seem like Canadian volunteers are saving the day by themselves,” says Sean, “because we work in collaboration with local groups. So we did our own work on the video and then hired a group that understood our values.” Their most recent series is posted on their YouTube channel, featured on their website, shared through social media and promoted with bloggers and citizen journalists.
Still feeling overwhelmed? It is possible to have a very low cost video that is still effective. The Workers’ Action Centre’s video for their Stop Wage Theft campaign is the best example I’ve seen recently of a video that is simple and inexpensive yet very powerful. They shared it with us at last week’s Toronto Net Tuesday on Sharing Your Story and talked about their experience experimenting with video and other forms of storytelling.
If you’re interested in trying out video, remember:
- It’s ok to reuse content - your video could be based on a blog or some other content you’ve already produced
- It’s ok to fail - start small, try stuff out and see what works. For example, the Workers’ Action Centre has now produced more videos and experimented with different approaches.
Here’s some resources to get you started:
- Secrets to Nonprofit Video Success - Advice from the YouTube Nonprofit Video Awards
- Online Storytelling — How to Plan & Produce a Compelling Video - Tips from a past Toronto Net Tuesday on using video in your nonprofit
- Nonprofit Video Production Tips - A list of resources to help you with production and videos in general
- Tools for Digital Storytelling - Highlights from a webinar on this topic, with a link to the recorded webinar
- 8 great examples of nonprofit storytelling - Wonderful videos created with a range of different approaches to give you ideas and get you excited about what is possible
- How to Attract and Engage Supporters through Storytelling - general information on how to effectively share your story