Video marketing increases brand engagement, reflects your nonprofit brand personality, and informs the public about your impact. The key is to approach your video marketing strategy in a creative way so you can stand out from the crowd.
The following five videos are creative examples from which you can draw inspiration, from capturing your audience’s attention to building strong storylines that deliver information in innovative ways. In each example, we’ll dissect some best practices and learnings you can take away in order to level up your own videos.
1. “Let’s Talk About America” by Keep America Beautiful
You might remember Keep America Beautiful (KAB) from the “Crying Indian” public service announcement in the 1970s. This was an incredibly popular campaign, but in 2018, ahead of their 65th anniversary, they needed to revitalize their efforts by appealing to a millennial audience.
The video here is part of a rebrand campaign that sought to capture the voice of a younger generation that is more involved, informed, and prioritizes action over words. To help accomplish this goal, KBA featured a diverse cast to reflect their new, desired audience segment.
Inclusivity matters because it accurately reflects society and makes the subject more personal for your audience. Giving people the opportunity to see themselves represented in your work helps make the idea of donating or supporting that much more real. To make this happen, actively look for ways to bring inclusivity into your video marketing. Here are a few ideas:
When you cast for talent, actively seek to fill your cast with a diverse range of people. Remember that diversity isn’t just about race or ethnicity; it’s also about age, gender, and physical ability.
If you partner with an agency to create your video, ask how they incorporate inclusivity into their work. This might look like a diverse creative team, or a storyline that is based on real experiences from people who are impacted by your nonprofit.
If you create your video in-house, collaborate with other members of your nonprofit as you plan your script, even if they aren’t part of the marketing team. They may see opportunities to make your video more inclusive that you hadn’t already seen because their lived experiences are different than yours.
This final note isn’t directly related to the video, but it matters when you’re looking at your overall marketing strategy: the video’s style is consistent with the other assets in the campaign. Visual consistency helps support brand recognition, whether someone watches the video on social media or YouTube.
Plus, at just one minute long, the video is short enough to fit a variety of channels. It can live on an Instagram feed or in a targeted ad, which helps you get more value out of a single asset and reach a greater overall audience.
2. “#GiveASh*t” by WaterAid
WaterAid is an international organization focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene. They needed a way to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis, which inspired the “Give a sh*t” campaign ahead of November 19, World Toilet Day.
By leaning into the poop emoji, WaterAid captured a visual that people are familiar with and associate with lighthearted emotion. They kept the visuals consistent by echoing this animated, bubbly style throughout the video, which makes a not-so-fun topic (sanitation) more approachable for a broader audience.
Not all missions are aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself creatively. Brainstorm ways to represent your nonprofit in new ways by asking, “What is a high-level way to approach your nonprofit’s mission?” For example, if your nonprofit works in the sanitation industry, don’t think about a dump. Think about what your beneficiaries gain: fresh water and clean spaces.
Note the video’s narrative structure. It has a beginning (“The world has a sh*t problem”), middle (here’s why this matters), and end (here’s what you can do to help). Storytelling structure helps frame the central idea of your video, and ending with a call to action helps your viewer know what to do next. As you develop your video’s script, ask yourself what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. If your video has a setup, exposition, and final resolution, you’re in a good narrative space.
3. “How to Use a Raw Egg to Determine if Your Mattress is Awful” by Purple Mattress
Purple Mattress’ video is part of a series of ads the company released to talk about what makes their mattress different from others.
It starts with a specific problem (“What’s a super easy way to tell that your bed is awful?”), hooks the viewer’s interest (“The raw egg test”), and frames the entire video’s structure within the first five seconds (“Let me prove it”). Framing the story in this way incentivizes the viewer to stick around and see how the story evolves.
To bring this to life in your video, think of your script as a persuasive essay. You want to bring the viewer onto your side, and to get there, you need to make your argument compelling and digestible. Here’s how to get there:
- What: Start by asking yourself what you want your viewer to do.
- Why: Find a universal way to speak to that need, desire, or goal.
- How: Explain how your nonprofit meets that need, desire, or goal.
Apply this line of thinking to your nonprofit. An animal shelter may want to spread awareness about the value of fostering dogs. Here’s how they might approach their video development:
- What: They want to increase awareness of their fostering program.
- Why: Animal lovers want to help their local animal shelter, but aren’t ready to adopt a dog.
- How: The video begins with the line, “Save a dog’s life. Share your home.”
4. “Good Odds” by Toyota
First of all, prepare to cry. Second of all, this video is a masterclass in the idea that less is more. The video doesn’t use extensive copy, graphics, or voiceovers to tell the story. Instead, it uses short clips to showcase a person’s tenacity and spirit, all set against an inspiring soundtrack.
To make it actionable, consider how you can use a beneficiary storyline to illustrate the impact of your nonprofit. Following a person’s storyline shows your audience that change is possible and their contributions make an impact, and you don’t need to have Toyota-level production value to make it happen.
Record an interview with someone who was positively impacted by your nonprofit. To frame the video using storytelling structure, ask yourself what the beginning, middle, and end would be. The beginning might be their life before they interacted with your nonprofit. The middle is when your nonprofit stepped in. The end is where they are today.
Turn a photo slideshow into a video, and use a simple soundtrack or voice over to explain the storyline to the reader. For example, if you run a nonprofit animal shelter, put together a video that tells the story of a dog going from shelter to forever home.
Record conversations with people in your nonprofit about success stories that personally impacted them. Remember storytelling structure here, too. Ask your team to talk about the beginning, middle, and end of their unique success story, whether they’re talking about a person who benefitted from your nonprofit’s work or an experience that reminded your staff why they come to work each day.
5. “Fifty People One Question” by PostSecret
PostSecret is an ongoing community mail art project. In 2009, they released this short film based on a simple premise: What happens if you ask 50 people to tell you their secret?
As you plan your video, think about what it’ll look like on-screen. You don’t have to use advanced angles or fancy graphics to tell a compelling story. This video benefits from simplicity: most interviews consist of medium and close-up shots, interspersed with shots that set the scene in the park, plus a simple soundtrack.
This format is a low-lift way to showcase community voices and humanize your nonprofit’s impact. Ask people to share their stories through video, whether they’re doing something as big as sharing a secret or simply recounting a treasured memory. You’ll want to do some technical legwork ahead of time with this video style. Plan how your audience will submit their videos, whether they’re using a special hashtag on social media or emailing video files to a dedicated address. The upside is that this approach inherently creates a sense of vulnerability and intimacy. Use it to bring greater awareness to the way your brand impacts people’s lives, and let your beneficiaries do the talking.
Video marketing is one of the most impactful ways to tell a creative story because you have so many tools at your disposal: copy, visuals, and sound. The best marketing videos aren’t those that use next-level graphics or epic soundtracks. They’re the ones that capture their audience’s attention, hold it, and incite action. It all starts with a good story.
If you want to get extra marketing tips and advice, watch the recordings from the live sessions at the Collaborative: Virtual Sessions, as well as over 20 bonus Extended Sessions, for free below.
This post was written by Rebecca Paredes. She is a writer, frequent snacker, and jiu jitsu practitioner.
The Guide to Nonprofit Storytelling
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