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A resource for video content creators


The Appeal of Video: How Video Can Plead Your Case


We just completed our second fundraising video this year for two unique organizations. First was the grassroots group: A small staff housed in a rundown office, struggling with eviction notices and changing the world. Second was an internationally renowned medical facility raising millions for a large expansion. Although different, these two groups had one thing in common, they chose video to plead their case.

So all went well, their fundraisers were successful and both organizations, I'm sure, will live long and prosper. But building a successful fundraising video is a tricky business, not without its pitfalls, here are four tips to help guide you:

The Production Approach
First, what type of video is it going to be? With a fundraising video the best choice is a documentary. Remember, you're asking for money. So a high-concept marketing video that looks like it cost a fortune might not be your best bet. You should strive for a story that's honest and real, like it happened in front of the camera. But be aware, it still costs money. To create a compelling documentary requires large amounts of footage - it takes time to record those "real" moments. And getting a seamless and natural flow to the edit can take weeks. Believe it or not, a slick marketing "sizzle reel" might be cheaper, the glitzy effects and graphic treatments have been commoditized - they're plug and play.

Something’s gotta Give
When your audience watches a documentary they expect a story. Now there are a lot of rules to storytelling but the most important one, for our purposes, has to do with "change". A character or idea has to transform during the course of the video. This makes your message relatable, universal and enlightening to the viewer. You want to give your audience a transformative experience - that's what great stories can do.

Save it for a Memo
You're trying to be persuasive, right? And we’re taught that the best friend of persuasion is facts and figures. This might be true but please leave them out of your video. There are better methods to communicate the factual information, speeches, websites, brochures, etc. Video can't and shouldn't communicate the whole message, keep it simple - have your documentary focus on the emotion side of the story.

Give the Message a Breath of Fresh Air
Short and face-paced... That what everyone wants, especially in this click-happy internet age. But that's not necessarily true in this instance. If the fundraising video is to be shown at a gala or event the audience will expect substance. They'll need time to settle in and engage in the story. Think theatrical: use silence to you advantage and give the audience moments of pause. Besides, you can always cut a shorter version to play on a website.

So there you have it, a few takeaways from a unique type of video that plays by its own rules. Hope these tips were helpful and your fundraising endeavors reap great rewards.