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Rethinking Video Production: Video Tips for Nonprofits

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Week four of Ellen Friedland's series ‘Tips for Corporate Video Production' hosted by the New York video producer herself! Back from last week, and once a week, a new set of tips will be published on ReelMarketer with a relevant tip to help you save time or increase production value on your next shoot!

Week 4: Rethinking Video Production: Video Tips for Nonprofits

By Ellen Friedland

Back in the days of video with tape and linear editing with old Betacam SP cameras, nonprofit organizations recognized the impact — and therefore the importance — of marketing videos. Before Google bought Youtube in 2005, before Youtube made web video popular, before people were e-communicating, nonprofits were telling their stories at gala dinners featuring professionally shot and edited video productions. It was a line item on the annual budget or a deduction from the money raised at the event. The organizations understood that successful fundraising required presenting the story in an emotionally powerful way. They were leaders in the use of video production.

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When Youtube first exploded on the web with amateur videos that were shared as entertainment, the use of professional video hiccupped. For a short time some people opined about the acceptability of consumer cameras and wannabe filmmakers’ products for a broad range of purposes – that is, until viewers seemed more interested in their smartphone messages than those that were presented on the screen in front of them.

Ellen Friedland

Today the budgets of many nonprofits are smaller than they once were, another side effect of the recent recession out of which we are still climbing. Simultaneously, the appetite for video is more voracious.

Organizations, like corporations and other entities, are well aware of the prevalence of videos on the web and their power to keep browsers engaged on their sites. Less money, greater video needs: A challenge.

Here are some thoughts about overcoming the hurdle:

1. Think Beyond Fundraising

Change the old-school approach to the concept of the annual fundraising gala video. Creating a production for that event should be only one of the uses the video to be captured will have. The costs of the professional videos should not be a line item for the gala; rather, this total should be a line item for the more comprehensive annual budget. All video that is recorded in field production should be stored in a video library to be used for a range of purposes to which thought should be given in advance of the shoot.

[embedit snippet=”ad1″]2. Beyond the Past. Invest Modern, Invest Smart.

Reduce old-school marketing initiatives of the past and increase video marketing. Print advertisements and other paper materials can be very costly, yet their audience is ever-shrinking and they end up as environmental waste. To be effective, dollars are much better spent on forms of communication that people use, i.e., the Internet. Since statistically people watch more on the Internet than they read, those print dollars are likely to be much more effective as HD dollars.

3. Spread ‘n Share

Fundraise specifically for the cost of a series of video productions for multiple purposes, including a gala event and the web. The videos can be posted on a number of online sites, minimally including sites like Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, and the organization’s website, providing opportunities for mass viewing that far exceed the limited audience of a fundraising event. Folks who like the videos will repost them, further opening the door to new opportunities. It is not hard to make the case to a donor that funding a video is money well spent in order to accomplish the larger fundraising goals.

4. Batch the Job

Think through the wish list types of videos, then plan field production days around the gathering of people or events where many items on the list can be checked off. This may save additional days of videotaping down the line.

5. Keep the Ball Rolling

[embedit snippet=”ad2″]At all stages, even after the videos have been completed and the final invoice for their production has been paid, think about them as works in progress. Not enough money to have motion graphics produced? Too small a budget for videotaping more than a day or two? First time around the video can be made with still graphics, limited b-roll and longer stretches of talking heads. When it begins to spark interest in donors and more money is contributed, the videos – assuming they are saved in uncompressed files – can be easily altered without beginning the editing process over again, as was required all those years ago. Motion graphics, additional b-roll, and other forms of visual stimulation can find their way into version number two.

A friend recently posted photos of a party in the 1970s. I marveled at how much styles have changed: clothes, hair, room décor. Video wasn’t even on the horizons of most people back then. That changed a few years later, and this form of media has also undergone massive style changes between then and now. Maximizing its value requires staying current with the latest trends and finding creative ways of making them part of a nonprofit’s marketing mix.

Ellen Friedland

Read Ellen's comprehensive bio here. Ellen is the founder/president of and producer for two video production companies: Voices & Visions Productions (V&V) -- specializing in corporate videos across a range of industries for marketing, web, social media, investor relations, HR, educational, fundraising, and other end uses -- and JEMGLO, producing documentaries for PBS, international film festivals, and educational venues. Both celebrating their 15th year anniversary in 2012, V&V and JEMGLO have continuously surfed the changing tides of the video industry. Ellen looks forward to video's ongoing evolution on the web as rich-media matures in consonance with social marketing.

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1 comment

  • Tip number 2 is very important. Video marketing is such an effective marketing tool nowadays if done correctly. It can raise awareness of nonprofits ten fold compare to old school evasive forms of marketing.

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