Five things about video that may surprise you


Last week, NFPTweetup (a meetup for charities wanting to use digital and social media more effectively) took place and Lesley Pinder shares the five surprising things she learnt about using video.

  1. Video or TV is more cost effective than you think.

I must confess, I tend to assume that creating video and using TV advertising is prohibitively expensive. So it was refreshing to see that the best examples of videos shared were actually quite low cost and also cost effective. When Anthony Nolan heard the incredible story of Johnny and Sean, they took the decision to invest in filming them professionally. It cost £3,000 but the resulting footage was used by the BBC during the London Marathon coverage in 2013. Some stories are worth investing in and telling well. This was definitely one of them:

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From a fundraising perspective, TV might seem scarily expensive but it can pay off if done well. Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s* TLC television advert not only helped them to reach huge numbers of people with health information, it was also their most cost effective recruitment channel based on cost per lead and cost per donor.

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  1. People are watching online video in different ways and in different places.

People aren’t watching videos in the same way anymore. They are watching videos on their mobiles, at work, at home and on the move. And the volume of content now is huge. Which means it is all the more challenging to get them to watch yours.

So how can you get them to watch your videos? For a start, make it personal and about them – ten seconds is now the most you’ve got to grab their attention, so you need to front load the video with the interesting stuff. Jamie Parkins from JustGiving shared their recent #MyStory video campaign where over 12,000 videos were created for fundraisers that ran the London marathon. Using JustGiving APIs, they were able to pull data from each person’s Fundraising Page to personalise every single video with the name and picture of the fundraiser at the very start of the video, which meant people were hooked from the start – the videos had over 100,000 plays!

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Not only that but you need to think about whether your video is compressed enough to play on a mobile on a train, or if it is visual enough to catch someone’s attention when it autoplays without sound on Facebook. There is a lot to think about and it’s changing all the time!

If in doubt, use cats:

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This video has had nearly 700,000 views and raised £85,000 for WWF UK. So it is possible to make a charity video that people watch and respond to.

  1. Real people and their stories will be more authentic than anything your organisation can come up with.

Fundraiser Jessica’s amazing video she made during a half marathon says it all. Her video broke all the rules – it’s too long, it’s shaky and the sound is wonky – but it doesn’t matter. It helped her to raise £12,000 for Anthony Nolan.

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  1. Plan plan plan plan and then plan some more.

According to filmmaker Sam Care, the most important aspect of film production is planning. However much time you think you should spend on planning, it probably isn’t enough. The filming should take up the least amount of time if you’ve got your planning right. This was echoed by Jamie Parkins from JustGiving who said that far and away the most difficult part of the process of creating #mystory was the pre-production and in particular story boarding. But if you get this right, the rest of the process should fall in to place.

  1. What makes a video ‘good’ depends on what it is for.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s TLC advert was created to generate response and as such, it follows some of the classic principles of Direct Marketing. It isn’t action packed or trying to be clever, funny or ‘different’. It is a simple advert that achieves great returns. Before you create a video, first ask what it is you want to achieve from it. That should guide what kind of film, video or advert you make. Or whether you should make one at all!

*Now merged with Breast Cancer Campaign. New name announced very soon!

#MyStory was created using JustGiving’s APIs. Find out more about how you could use APIs to increase your fundraising.

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Lesley is innovation and product development manager at Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. She has worked for non-profits for over 10 years across the arts, international development, social welfare, mental health and medical research. Lesley is proud to be a jack of all trades with experience of every nearly form of fundraising as well as digital projects and social media.