How to Create an Irresistible Nonprofit Fundraising Video (6 Best Tips)

Blog Post by Julia Campbell

Is video part of your nonprofit’s digital content strategy?

Have you used video in your digital fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns?

For digital fundraisers, a compelling video is a critical way to drive donations.

This powerful tool cuts through noise and clutter, grabs attention, and can showcase your impact in a way that deepens your connection with current and potential donors.

In fact, a Google study found that 57 percent of people who watch a video go on to make a donation. Yes, you read that right—over half!  Kickstarter found that crowdfunding campaigns with personal videos raise 150% than those that don’t have videos.

In addition, online fundraisers have likely noticed that video content tends to outperform other types of posts on digital platforms:

  • 60% of Millennials prefer to watch a video to reading a newsletter;
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined;
  • Adding video to your emails generates a 200-300% increase in click-through rates.

There is no doubt that video should be a part of every digital fundraising strategy going into the New Year.

To help you create an irresistible nonprofit fundraising video, here are my 6 top tips:

1. Keep it short.

Context is key, but keep it short. Sure, if you are showing the video at your $150 per plate formal gala, you can get away with a longer video.

However, on digital channels and fundraising platforms, the video should be no longer than 1-2 minutes.

Keep in mind that the most viewed brand videos are on average 31–60 seconds long (32% of all views).

Long-form video is best used on YouTube and Vimeo, where users are accustomed to watching longer videos, and they often stay to watch multiple videos at a time.

Your nonprofit could also use long-form video content on your blog and during your events, to tell a more complete story and give a clear picture of your impact and your work.

2. Find a hook.

Grab attention in the first few seconds!

Don’t take a ton of time with sliders and logos and extra information.

Social media videos play automatically but silently until the viewer clicks on them, so you need to grab attention visually in that first frame.

Consider what you can do to entice people to click on the sound button and watch the full video.

Need some ideas for fantastic nonprofit videos that catch the eye and make you watch until the end? Check out the DoGooder Awards on YouTube.


3. Tell a story.

It’s not hard to understand why storytelling is so popular—it’s how we communicate as humans!

Research studies have found that personal stories and gossip make up 65 percent of our daily conversations.

When coupled with the viral and attention-getting potential of video, storytelling remains the most compelling and engaging type of online content out there for nonprofits.

Nothing can compete online with a well-told story in video format.

To collect stories on video, it can help to think like a news journalist.

Consider all of the events and happenings on your community’s radar (including your own) and determine what video clips you can capture to augment the story for your larger audience.

An excellent example of a fundraising video that uses compelling storytelling comes from the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund‘s “Meet Bobbie and Ia.”

In this video, we hear the inspiring story of Bobbie, a homeless woman helped by the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund to become more empowered and hopeful. Viewers also meet Ia, a person who does not have a lot of money but still gives to the cause, and she tells us why.

The women are both real people, sharing their actual heartaches, struggles, and victories in a very relatable way that makes the viewer want to watch until the end—and get involved!

The Greater Boston Food Bank shares videos on its Facebook page about the people that they serve and the hardships they are struggling to overcome. Dan’s Story shares one family’s experience with the Food Bank, using emotional storytelling and vivid imagery to draw in the viewer.

When you use video to showcase real stories from real people who have benefited from your work, it helps supporters connect with your cause.

The organization Denver Rescue Mission regularly posts interesting, unique videos on social media of real people sharing their stories. New Life Program participant Matt shares the story of his transformation on the DRM Facebook Page.

Want to learn more? Join me for a 90-minute CharityHowTo webinar that will give you a step-by-step guide to marketing and promotion your nonprofit videos – including your fundraising and thank you videos!

4. Have a crystal clear call to give.

Don’t expect people to understand that you want them to give when they watch the video…

You have to ask!

Make the ask as clear as possible to inspire more donations. Ask in the beginning and ask again at the end.

For example: “Your monthly donation of $10 can help us reach our goal of giving 5000 girls an education.”

If you are posting the video on your nonprofit Facebook Page, make sure you register for their fundraising tools so you can add a Donate button to your video.

YouTube will also allow a hyperlink on videos for organizations registered with the free Google for Nonprofits program.

5. Repeat your message.

Make sure that your most important message – the call to join you and make a donation – is the first and last thing your video viewers hear and see.  

They need to be reminded that this is a fundraising campaign, and their impact and their gift counts – iin the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the video

Never assume that your viewers will stay and watch the entire thing!

6. Optimize the video for each platform.

After creating your video, be sure to directly upload the video file to each individual social media platform, rather than simply sharing out a link.

Based on my own experience consulting with several dozen nonprofits on social media best practices, and managing dozens of Facebook Pages and other social media accounts, this tactic is considerably more effective than posting an outside link to the video.

The reason is this: When you directly upload a video and share it to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your video will automatically start playing when it comes up in the newsfeed or update stream.

Make sure you are writing a custom caption for the video that works best and using hashtags if it’s on Twitter or Instagram.

Take advantage of the unique strengths of each platform and use the language, terminology, and structure that works best.

Extra tip: When sharing a video on YouTube, create a custom thumbnail in Canva and upload it to your video. Neil Patel found that 90% of the best performing video productions on YouTube have a custom thumbnail.

Join me for a 90-minute CharityHowTo webinar that will give you a step-by-step guide to marketing and promotion your nonprofit videos – including your fundraising and thank you videos!

About the Author

Julia Campbell is a digital marketing strategist and nonprofit technology evangelist, providing workshops, webinars and trainings to nonprofit professionals in organizations of all sizes. Using social media, email, blogging and online fundraising platforms, Julia has over a decade of history of helping nonprofits find success online. She founded J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency.

Check out all of Julia’s free and premium trainings at CharityHowTo here!