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Why Fundraising Videos Are Your Top Marketing Tool


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Reading Time: 6 minutes

On average, crowdfunding campaigns that incorporate video receive 114 percent more funding from Indiegogo supporters than campaigns that don’t. Supporters are also more generous when a pitch video is included in a campaign—the average contribution is 12 percent higher.

As video content can make such a difference when it comes to supporting your campaign, it’s recommended that you invest resources in this strategy when possible and appropriate. To help you understand what strong video content looks like, we’ve outlined four examples and pointed out what works well.

Call to Action | Follow the Frog

“You are a good person.”

That’s the first line in Hungry Man Productions’ award winning video, “Follow the Frog.” Created for The Rainforest Alliance, this video immediately grabs the viewer’s attention by speaking to them directly.

Think about the line, “You are a good person.” Not only does the first line speak to you, it flatters you as well. While some fundraising campaign videos attempt to make the viewer feel guilty if they don’t act, “Follow the Frog” takes the opposite approach and out of the gate, makes you feel good. Really good, because you are being told that you are good. That good feeling is consistent throughout the piece. It’s relatable, funny, and it uses topical pop culture, sports, and movie references, and is educational. What makes it most effective, however, is a strong, and achievable, call-to-action. By showing the viewer all of the difficult things he or she could, and most definitely shouldn’t, do to protect the rainforest, they are easily able to wrap their heads around the simple, clear, and direct ask:

Buying Rainforest Alliance certified products, ensures the future of our rainforests. So that you don’t have to do the things, you shouldn’t do anyway. Just follow the frog.

Rather than advocating for an extreme grassroots movement supporting biodiversity, the organization asks viewers, who are also product consumers, to purchase certified Rainforest Alliance approved products over other products. In doing so, “the film cleverly reinforces the fact that choosing rainforest friendly products when in the supermarket really isn’t such a difficult task.”

Since it’s launch in 2012, the video has been viewed over 5 million times and garnered more than 32,000 likes, 23,000 shares, and 1,000 comments—and that’s just on YouTube. The video went viral and with a Cannes Lion advertising award, organic engagement, high entertainment value, and publicity, it forced more people to pay attention. It effectively conveyed the message and the mission of the nonprofit:

The effects of the social impact of the video were tremendous for the marketplace and Rainforest Alliance. Now, more companies have signed onto being approved by the nonprofit while the organization has expanded its operations to encompass sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, climate change, and more.

According to Consumer Reports, “As of June 2015, 13.6 percent of the world’s cocoa, 5.4 percent of coffee, and 15.1 percent of tea comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.” Additionally, the “frog” seal can be found on products from over 4,000 companies in at least 120 countries.

A strong, clear call-to-action is just one example of the many characteristics your nonprofit’s fundraising video should incorporate to make it stand out and play a pivotal role in your campaign. Let’s take a look at a few others.

Crowdsourced Content | P4A (Project 4 Awesome)

Simply put, crowdsourced videos are created by your audience and/or community as opposed to a publisher or commissioned by a content creator. This type of content is also known as, “user generated content.”

In December 2007, John and Hank Green, better known as the Vlogbrothers on YouTube, began a community powered nonprofit movement based off crowdsourced content called, “P4A or Project For Awesome.” Over the course of 48 hours, creators and community supporters can upload a video to rally for charities and organizations they love in order to spread awareness and raise funds.

Regardless of whether you have 5 million subscribers or are camera shy, participants use whatever tools are available to produce their video and upload it directly to the P4A website during a specific two-day window. What makes P4A so brilliant, is that it involves the community from start to finish. The campaign encourages the audience to participate in several ways. Anyone, as an individual or nonprofit, can:

  • Make a video about a nonprofit or cause they support
  • Share the videos they create on social media to spread awareness for the nonprofit
  • Vote for their favorite videos on the P4A website, which helps determine which organizations receive funding

In 2015, P4A raised over $1.5 million for two charities chosen by the Green brothers—Save The Children and Partners in Health, as well as 20 other charities voted on by the community.

Consider how your organization might employ this strategy for your next campaign. How could you ask your community to get involved, and how might you repurpose the content they submit?

Donation Driven Content | Malarious

The idea behind CollegeHumor’s “Malarious” campaign was simple: create videos with famous comedians for a rabid fan base and put up a paywall. For a minimum donation of $1, viewers were able to unlock videos that no one (but them, of course) would be able to watch. All proceeds went directly to the organization, Malaria No More. According to David Bowen, CEO of Malaria No More, “Our organization has played in the comedy space before, but never with the simple one-to-one ratio of Malarious…With ease and a little pocket change, viewers can watch their favorite celebrities and save a life in the matter of one minute. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

By using a “FOMO”(fear of missing out) marketing technique, CollegeHumor was able to deliver purposeful video content to their audience of 18 to 34 year-old guys with a goal of raising funds for Malaria No More.

CollegeHumor understands their audience well enough to know that in order to make an impact, the best approach is to give the people what they want—hilarious videos, or should we say “Malarious videos” (blame Rainn Wilson, he said it first). “Malarious” was able to do just that—provide an enjoyable fan-centric experience that is more intimate and meaningful because it also happens to support a really awesome nonprofit.

Without diluting their brand, or hitting their audience over the head with cause-centric videos blatantly asking for donations, CollegeHumor made an impact doing what they love—making great content for their audience to enjoy—and their audience gave back doing what they love—watching ridiculous videos from comedians who publicly support the cause.

The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for Malaria No More and a new model demonstrating that laughter is not only the best medicine, it may also be the best fundraising approach too.

Interactive Content | DIG DEEP’s 4Liters Challenge

Between cooking, showering, and washing dishes, the average person uses up to 500 liters of water per day. With its little rainfall, it comes as no surprise that California is facing one of the biggest droughts in history. In January 2016, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency and directed state officials to “take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.”

Through their empathetic educational campaign, #4Liters Challenge, DIG DEEP aims to help us appreciate and conserve this precious resource. Research shows human beings need a minimum of 4 liters (or 1 gallon of water) every day to survive, which is why DIG DEEP invites people every October to attempt to live on 4 liters of water for 24 hours.

As the challenge grew, more influencers became involved to help educate and advocate for the cause. These creators are participating in the challenge themselves and doing what they do best—making a video to share with their fans about their experience and inspire them to take action. The video above encourages fans to do the same.

The beauty of the campaign is also in its share-ability as DIG DEEP promotes sharing via their own proprietary portal on 4liters.org, where participants can easily post and share by connecting their social media accounts and using the #4Liters hashtag. After a person completes the challenge, they are encouraged to ask at least two of their friends to take it on. If they complete the challenge, they can challenge two of their friends as well and so on.

True empathy is understanding what it feels like to experience the same feelings and emotions as another; to walk in someone else’s shoes. That’s what’s makes this video and campaign so successful. For 24 hours, the #4Liters Challenge makes us understand what is at stake.

The Components of a Strong Fundraising Video

Each of the above pieces of video content serve as powerful, fun, and creative means of increasing awareness and funds for organizations. You’ll also notice they all have a few similar characteristics. Regardless of production budget, or lack thereof, here is a checklist of questions to address before you shoot your fundraising video.

  • What is the objective of the video?
  • How can you make the start of the video engaging, entertaining, or captivating?
  • Is this a piece of content you’d want to watch and share?
  • What types of messaging, dialogue, images, and footage do you want to include?
  • What will the tone of the video be? Humorous? Dramatic?
  • Who is the audience and what is the most effective way to communicate with them?
  • What is your call to action and how will you make it clear?
Pro Tip
Ideally, your video will be two to five minutes. Keep in mind, the average attention span is eight seconds according to a recent Microsoft consumer study. A goldfish would watch one more second of your video than a human.

Fundraising videos, and influencers featured in those videos who can rally their community for your cause, clearly speak to your community, put a face to a cause, provide an engaging experience, and tell the story of your organization and campaign. All of these things help to cultivate a more intimate relationship with your supporters to create a connection with your work. In the end, it’s the individual relationships between you and your community members that will help transform an advocate who shares your video into a repeat donor.

Stephanie Belsky is a content and community strategist, YouTube certified expert, and a social entrepreneur. She is Madame President and founder of Lucid., and co-founder of For The Love of Good. For more information about how to create your own fundraising video, check out Belsky’s video course on CreatorUp.com.

The Nonprofit's Guide to a Strong Online Presence

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