The combination of images, dialogue, and music makes video a uniquely powerful medium—one that can capture imaginations and stir emotions. It’s not surprising, then, that nonprofits frequently leverage video to communicate with their supporters and the public. What might be a bit more surprising to the casual observer, though, is the wide variety of ways nonprofit videos can be used to communicate and inspire.
To illustrate the different ways you can use video to advance your mission, we’ve featured 11 of our all-time favorites below in no particular order.
Short nonprofit videos are great way to give people insight into what your organization is all about. Take, for example, this video from First Descents. In just over two minutes, the viewer learns about the organization’s purpose, meets the founder, and gets a feel for the nonprofit’s ethos and programs. Even in the absence of words, the shots depicting the programs give viewers a sense of the people involved and what’s important to them.
We love this video from Falling Whistles. It powerfully tells the organization’s founding story and connects you to the symbolism behind its name. The video also pulls in viewers right away and establishes an emotional connection that invites you to join the movement.
This video from The Girl Effect presents the problem the organization is addressing. We’ve categorized it as an awareness video because it doesn’t really delve into the organization’s programs specifically. Instead, the video educates the audience on the scope of the wider problem (and the corresponding opportunity for impact) using text, numbers, and illustration.
It then introduces The Girl Effect as a part of the solution and invites viewers to their website to learn more. With 1.8 million views on YouTube, it has raised a considerable amount of awareness.
4. Mama Hope
To raise awareness about a cause, you often need to demonstrate the problem. However, that doesn’t mean awareness videos need to be sad to make a point. This nonprofit video from Mama Hope uses humor to playfully take aim at media-driven stereotypes of African men. Through its creativity the video helps to deconstruct those stereotypes and promote the organization’s fundamental message of educational empowerment.
What we love about this video is its use of literary devices. It draws in viewers immediately through personification. Actors connect the viewer to the subject impacted by the cause…a subject you might not expect to so clearly relate to.
The video also uses repetition, another literary device, to make simple declarations all the more powerful. In just two minutes, the viewer develops a strong understanding of the problem that Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project addresses. The call to action? Simply getting the word out.
Sometimes you want to do more than create awareness; you want to inspire action. This funny and clever video from the Rainforest Alliance urges viewers to take meaningful but manageable action to help preserve our planet’s rain forests. Viewers walk away with the knowledge of what they can (very easily) do to support the cause.
As a donor, it can be difficult to understand the true impact of your financial gift. Here, Tomorrow’s Youth Organization demonstrates how video can help bridge this emotional gap. This short video highlights one boy’s story to illustrate the life-changing effect the organization’s programs have. In this way, potential donors understand the true significance of their contribution. This clarity strengthens your relationships with donors and can help them understand the impact of different levels of support.
Nonprofit videos don’t have to be elaborate or full of special effects to work well. This video from the Robin Hood Foundation is well-produced and clean, but there’s nothing flashy about it. What sticks out is how the foundation uses video to tell the beneficiaries’ stories. Firsthand testimonials like this one can go a long way and make your organization’s impact more tangible for supporters.
Every September, charity: water launches its big fundraising campaign. This video helps to orient and inspire fundraisers to get involved. Apart from the stellar production values and the personalized delivery from charity: water founder Scott Harrison, what we love about this video is the way it makes the goal of the campaign incredibly explicit and tangible for fundraisers. After watching this short video, there’s no doubt what everyone is collectively fundraising for.
Just as video can be great to launch a major fundraising campaign, it can also be the perfect way to wrap one up. This video from Invisible Children was pushed out to supporters following the massively successful “25” campaign. Not only does the video get you excited about what was achieved, it leaves you feeling energized and ready to tackle the next challenge, whatever that might be.
We noted above how the charity: water video was personally delivered by the organization’s founder Scott Harrison. This video from Love146 takes a similar approach with founder Robb Morris. He explains the powerful story of how the organization came to be. By combining the story of the organization with a personal delivery from one of the founders, the video makes the cause more relatable than it otherwise might be.
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What are your favorite nonprofit videos? Let us know in the comments below!
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated to include recent examples.