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Video Storytelling: Driving Action Through the Power of Video

Nonprofits need the best and that’s why we turn to NeonOne’s ecosystem of partners for expert advice. Today we’re hearing from Shuling Yong, whose specialization is video-focused storytelling.

Why Video Storytelling?

When it comes to driving your audience to take an action — whether it’s making a donation, signing a petition, or doing an activity — one of the most powerful ways to do so is through video storytelling.

But before creating any piece of content, it’s important to understand where in the conversion funnel your target audience is:

  • Awareness – If you’re looking to reach new people who have never heard of your organization before, you’ll want to focus your content on giving them an introduction to the people you serve, work you do and why you do it.
    The action you’ll want to drive here is for the audience to give you permission to contact them again – whether through liking your Facebook page or subscribing to your email newsletter.
  • Interest – For those who’ve heard of your organization before, but don’t know a whole lot, your content can dive deeper into the details.
  • Consideration – Now that they’ve been exposed to your content a number of times, this is a good time to create content that further enhances your credibility. These include case studies, testimonials, stories of impact, award wins, etc. You can tease an upcoming campaign here.
  • Action – Only after you’ve earned their trust, will they be ready to take an action. Here’s where you can make the ask – whether for their money or their time.

Remember, asking for money the first time you interact with your target audience is just like proposing marriage on the first date. Tailoring your content to the groups of people at the various stages of the conversion funnel will get you better results.

Here are some examples of nonprofits and do-gooders using video well, and the lessons we can learn from them:

Lesson 1: Showcase Your Impact

Research shows that recommendations from third parties and reviews shape customer behavior greatly. In a study from the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, they found that the purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews. The impact is even greater for higher-priced items.

I often encourage nonprofits to showcase the impact they’re making through their clients’ stories. It’s more authentic and credible when good things about your organization are coming from the people you serve, and not from your Executive Director or upper management.

One example of this can be seen in Evanston, IL nonprofit Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) in their annual fundraising video:

At the core, this video featured stories of 3 youth whose lives were changed as a result of their programming, followed by a brief overview of how the organization has grown over the last 40 years and its hope for the future, before ending with a surprising twist.

The 3 youths represent different age groups, and their stories cover the unique challenges faced by youth their age, and how Y.O.U. has helped them. This helped to show that the organization was well-equipped to serve youths of various ages.

Lesson 2: Empower Your Audience

When Josiah Ng was in college, he noticed that his community had a growing negative reputation for being uncaring and ungracious. Students were even stealing books from the school library so other students couldn’t study them!

So he decided to start While You Were Sleeping, a campaign to encourage his fellow college-mates to care for others, and kicked it off the best way he knew how… with a video:

The campaign was such a success that it spread to multiple cities worldwide. People were replicating the campaign in schools, hospitals, and even at their workplaces.

Leveraging the power of video storytelling, While You Were Sleeping became an international campaign.

I asked Josiah what he thought was the driving force behind the camapaign’s success and here’s how he broke it down:

1. Start with Why

Inspired by the popular book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek, Josiah learned that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. So he made sure to explain the reason for the campaign in the video.

2. Show them How

Singaporeans are relatively conservative. So Josiah knew that he would have to demonstrate how to take the desired actions. Through the video, viewers are able to see that it’s not as awkward or scary as it sounds.

3. Empower Them

Lastly, to lower barriers to action, Josiah and his team made it easy for viewers to download templates of the exact cards he had used in the video, hence eliminating the need to start from scratch.

Downloadable template for While You Were Sleeping Cards.

He also made it a community activity by starting a Facebook page for the campaign, and encouraging everyone to share their experiences there. Seeing pictures and evidence of success from all around the world, posted by people who gave and received these cards, was great encouragement for more people to replicate the campaign.

Lesson 3: Keeping Them Long-term

Think about the last time you donated to a nonprofit organization. Now imagine if the head of the organization walked up to you, shook your hand, and personally said thank you to you. How would you feel?

I don’t know about you, but the last time I donated to an organization, I received nothing but… emails asking me to donate more money!

While it wasn’t a personalized in-person thank you, what Charity:Water did to thank their donors came pretty close.

Imagine how 6-year-old MacKenzie felt. Charity:Water made the simple video for one person — but to date, it’s garnered over 3,900 views.

Charity:Water created personalized thank you videos for their donors and made them publicly available on their YouTube page.

In fact, Charity: Water staff made over 242 individual thank you videos featuring staff members, reaching almost 100,000 viewers total. No fancy camera-work. Just simple, short videos. And for each recipient of a video, guess how many friends they told? Guess how long they’ll keep supporting Charity: water?

Remember, a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.

Need help telling your nonprofit's story? Get a new website with Neon.

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