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4 Tips to Create a Powerful Nonprofit Video Marketing Strategy

Video traffic already accounts for two-thirds of consumer Internet traffic and will encompass 79 percent by 2018, according to Cisco Visual Networking Index. As video's popularity expands, video marketers are able to reach larger audiences as illustrated by YouTube's 1 billion unique visitors per month. Advertising and PR consultants are taking note of these trends, with Nielsen reporting that 64 percent of marketers plan to focus their future promotional strategies on video. Marketers promoting nonprofit campaigns are beginning to tap into these trends as well, realizing the power of video to promote their causes to bigger as well as more targeted audiences.

Fitting Your Video to Your Market

shutterstock_155017322When cancer survivor Carri Rubenstein created a nonprofit to help people with terminal diagnoses leave videos for their loved ones, she originally began contacting hospitals to promote her cause. Her service grew nationally from this base, reflecting her sound, well-targeted promotional strategy. But you can imagine that she would not have met the same reception if she had focused her marketing efforts on, say, contacting college students or health clubs.

As this illustrates, matching your cause to your audience is essential for successful nonprofit promotion. Cole Jensen of Nonprofit Hub recommends that you start researching your audience demographic by surveying your current donor list to gather information about variables such as age, income level, and reasons for donating. You can use the profile that emerges to reach out to groups with similar characteristics. Tools such as Facebook's Insights and YouTube Analytics can assist you with this task.

Starting with a Solid Script

The Rainforest Alliance video "Follow the Frog" won YouTube's 2013 DoGooder Award for Best Nonprofit Video. The video uses the humorous tale of a hapless would-be ecology advocate to show how it's much easier to save the environment by purchasing products with certified labels than it is to quit your job in order to travel to Nicaragua to lead a jungle revolution. Nonprofit marketing expert Kivi Leroux Miller attributes the success of this video to its combination of an entertaining story with a relatable character and an easy-to-follow call to action. The call to action supports the goal of the video and achieves its intended marketing result.

This underscores how starting with a good script is as essential for video marketing as it is for other areas of film production. Miller recommends that nonprofits should make their social media marketing messages memorable by supporting them with compelling stories. Nonprofit online marketing consultant Julia Campbell suggests five storytelling strategies that work well for promoting charitable causes. Telling a story that reflects your organization's core values, how your charity has impacted your community, or how your nonprofit's founder became committed to your cause.

Enhancing Your Impact with Film Production Techniques

Just as a professional movie goes through pre-production and post-production phases in order to ensure optimal quality of the final product, a good marketing video is the end result of careful planning and editing. Media College director Dave Owen, who frequently uses his TV background to assist nonprofits, outlines the steps in the video creation process. Owen recommends creating a shot list and suggests that storyboarding is also a good idea. Popular storyboarding software includes Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, FrameForge Previz Studio, StoryBoard Quick, ToonBoom Storyboard, Atomic Learning StoryBoard, Celtx Plus, and Springboard.

As you're planning your video, you can begin assembling elements you'll need for shooting and editing, such as locations, sets, costumes, props, stock footage, and soundtracks. For instance, if you're shooting a video about resource conservation and you need a shot of some water for one scene, you might check out the Shutterstock library for stock footage that you can use to save you production time.

Follow up by editing your video for a polished look. Popular video editing software includes Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and Adobe Premiere Pro.


With your video finished, the final step to promote your cause is getting your production distributed. YouTube offers a nonprofit program that includes specialized features not available to standard users, such as clickable donate buttons and call-to-action overlays. The YouTube Nonprofit Google Group supports this program with promotional strategies and tips.

Roy Rasmussen, co-author of "Publishing for Publicity," is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

Topics: Communications