If integrated into your campaign properly, video can be an invaluable resource. It can add powerful visuals, a fresh perspective on storytelling, and a new platform for deepening donor engagement.
Year-end campaign videos, in particular, are a great way to exercise your creative muscles, test your limits, and get in the holiday spirit!
Here, we'll go over 5 ways your nonprofit can take your year-end campaign videos to the next level to raise more money, steward supporters, and spread some end-of-year cheer:
- Share why your cause is important.
- Recap this year’s accomplishments.
- Show off your nonprofit’s personality.
- Make the most of #GivingTuesday.
- Thank your supporters.
Of course, we'll also provide some amazing examples of nonprofits who used these strategies to create compelling campaign videos that added an extra element to their year-end appeals. You'll have plenty of inspiration to get you started!
The end of the year is upon us, so let's get right to it.
Year-End Campaign Video Tip #1: Tell the Story of Your Cause
As the year-end giving season approaches, nonprofit organizations around the world will be clamoring to make their mission stand out among all the other worthy causes.
Your donors are charitable people, so it makes sense that they'll be considering a number of philanthropies to donate their money, time, or attention to at the end of the year. To make your cause stick in their minds, you'll need to tell a story that nurtures a personal connection between your supporters and your organization.
Creating a year-end campaign is like telling an epic tale:
- There’s a beginning, middle and end to the story
- There’s a noble protagonist
- There’s something monumental that stands to be gained (or lost)
Nonprofits use many techniques to engage audiences in their campaigns throughout the year, but successful year-end campaigning requires a unique type of storytelling. Your nonprofit’s year-end story is special because it aims to both summarize your progress over the last year plus set expectations for what’s to come in the future.
Whether your nonprofit’s year has culminated in ways that you have anticipated or not, your task is to find the strongest threads from recent events or activities and weave them together into a patchwork of ideas and perspectives that ultimately inspires supporters to give. Choosing the wrong (or weak) storyline could mean losing the interest of potential donors early on in your campaign and ultimately missing out on valuable donations.
So, where do these incredible tales come from? Every nonprofit’s story is different. By tapping into your organization’s special blend of culture, creativity and broad connections (everyone from staff, volunteers and other high profile figures to the people you help everyday) you can create your own year-end story to set you on a sure path toward happily ever after.
Here are some types of magical year-end stories just waiting to be told:
The Fairy Tale
We’ve all heard this one: Once upon time, there was a nonprofit that created positive change in the world. But danger was lurking close by. An evil force was doing harm by putting its own power and profit above the good of the community. This force had to be stopped. So the nonprofit rallied its base and fought back with all its might. And just when you thought it couldn’t be done, the impossible happened – good triumphs over evil. All is right in the world…until the next time.
Without a doubt, it’s powerful nonprofit storytelling. No matter whom you cast as the “good guy” or the “bad guy”, it’s difficult to not be pulled into the overall drama. Nonprofits often default to this kind of storytelling for their year-end. After all, it’s easy for audiences to follow the storyline whether they’ve been with you from the beginning or joining later in the series of events.
Although if your organization is still facing a significant uphill battle – maybe you haven’t fully closed down that puppy mill or you haven’t been able to get that key project off the ground due to funding – embrace it for your story. It’s okay to sacrifice your happily ever after for now. Just make sure your story is compelling, realistic and illustrates how you’re working to get there.
Unveil a sinister world of corruption, underhanded deeds or simply get real about the frustrations of dealing with the bureaucratic red tape hindering your movement. The focus here is your antagonist and spotlighting just how harmful they can be to a cause. Is there a member of Congress that’s been especially hostile to your stance on a particular issue? Or maybe there’s a local board member who is continuing to evade your questions? Whoever’s been the sharpest thorn in your side; use your year-end campaign to take your standard advocacy actions up a notch.
Rally your supporters while also encouraging them to dig a little deeper in their pockets to fight this threat head on. Be prepared to share lots of facts, figures, witty comebacks and hard-hitting commentary about the harm that’s been inflicted. Just be sure you offer some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. Audiences can only take so much doom and gloom. Negativity is a good way to attract attention (look no further than the GOP candidates making headlines), but it is likely to burn out even your most ardent supporters.
Only nonprofits with some serious cute power in their arsenal can pull off this genre. Here’s looking at you, animal organizations and nonprofits with a funnel of cute kids at your disposal! But it’s not the standard romantic love we’re talking about. Instead, this genre is about making your audience fall head over heels with your cause by delivering a few laughs and lot of warm, fuzzy feelings.
Create some light-hearted, visual content for your story. Think video testimonials or pictures of staff and volunteers working side-by-side, or letters (or tweets!) of thanks for your organization’s hard work. The point is to underscore a deep passion for your work. Don’t get too lost in the world of cutesy fluff though. Make sure your campaign is still grounded in clear and positive results.
What’s the scariest thing about working for a nonprofit? For many, it’s not knowing where the funding is coming from next year! Play up this tension by sharing your year-end goals with your supporters. Want to raise $10,000 more than last year? Want to gain 500 more supporters? Great! Be transparent; put it in your year-end story and involve your audience in the suspense of a year-end fundraising drive.
Be sure to get your goal thermometers ready! And increase the build-up by offering to do something special when you hit a major milestone. Maybe if you hit your goal, your Executive Director will rappel down a building or you’ll release a special video from a celebrity saying “thanks”. Keep the content fresh and exciting and keep your supporters coming back for more even after they’ve donated to your campaign. And most importantly, don’t forget to follow up your campaign with an update. Did you meet or exceed your goal? If not, that’s okay too. Explain how that will affect your organization’s impact the following year and how much more determined you are to have a more positive outcome in the future.
It’s easy to get swept up in joys of the season. Speaking to your audience in this context is a simple way to honor the good work that’s been done all year and say “thank you” to the people who’ve made it all possible. This type of storytelling is especially effective for organizations with a large base of volunteers or those that organize larger events toward the end of the year.
The key is to capitalize on the spirit of the season without having any groups feeling left out of the big picture. Whatever message you choose, just be consistent with your theme across your website, email, social media and other web properties.
This kind of story invites your audience to relive your most exciting tales and beckons them to join you in upcoming adventures.
Share recaps of your biggest wins from the year through words, images, videos and social media snippets. Who did you help? What did you do? Why was it so important? Get updated testimonials from people who were a part of the action.
Remember this kind of storytelling is not just about celebrating what’s been accomplished, but urging your supporters to increase their commitment as well. Whether it’s by taking the next step to join as members or becoming a monthly sustainer, your goal is to cultivate donor relationships.
There are so many more nonprofit tales just waiting to be told, but we hope this list gets your team excited to uncover its own special story. Take a few queues from Adventure, mix it up with some Political intrigue and Suspense, add a dash of Romance with your own spin on happily ever after and you'll be well on your way to ending this year on a high note.
Whatever your style, just make sure it's a page-turner!
Fortunately, a year-end video is a fantastic way to get your message out in a way that's compelling and deeply relatable. Just make sure that you:
- Use details to your advantage, such as a person's real name (or pseudonym, if appropriate), age, and location.
- Let your beneficiaries speak for themselves or have a member of your team narrate the story.
- Appeal to your viewers' emotions with powerful imagery.
For some inspiration, check out how the Robin Hood Foundation told the story of Kaneisha's family and how this nonprofit helped them after a natural disaster.
As you can see from this video, your nonprofit doesn't have to employ any special film-making tricks to create a powerful video; all you need are the true stories of how your organization is impacting the world!
Pro Tip for This Year-End Video Strategy: Use free or inexpensive editing software to add music to your video. Some simple background noise can play up the emotions you're getting across and elevate the professionalism of your campaign video.
Year-End Campaign Video Tip #2: Recap This Year's Accomplishments
If your nonprofit has had a banner year, now's your time to play the highlight reel! You can use your year-end campaign video to share your organization's most exciting achievements from the past 12 months.
The more pictures, stories, and videos you’ve been collecting throughout the year to document your work, the easier this type of video will be to create. This video will be especially powerful if you:
- Use statistics in an interesting way by pairing numbers with images of the community you support. (Hint: your CRM can help you pull the numbers on a variety of metrics!)
- Remind donors their support made your accomplishments possible and that you can't do any of it without them.
- Show collected footage of your fundraising events, volunteer service, and staff throughout the year.
Check out how MEND, a California-based nonprofit, combined facts with strong visual imagery to display their success in an end-of-year video.
Your nonprofit can take a similar approach, but don’t worry: if you don’t have enough visual resources available this year, make sure you get on the ball and start collecting for next year!
Pro Tip for This Year-End Video Strategy: You don't have to get your video camera out at every nonprofit function to capture enough material for your year-end video. A few powerful shots can be spliced together with other elements, such as text or photos, to create a cohesive video.
Year-End Campaign Video Tip #3: Show Off Your Nonprofit's Personality
Your nonprofit might be dealing with some heavy issues, but that doesn't mean your year-end appeal video has to make your supporters break out the tissue box.
If you're feeling festive this holiday season, try making a campaign video that's energetic and fun, just like your nonprofit staff! You can share behind-the-scenes clips of your staff hard at work, or just infuse a traditional end-of-year video with a lighthearted approach.
Of course, in order to make this style of video work, you'll need to put your nonprofit's unique spin on it and show the world who you are. A few ways you might do that include:
- Introducing your team in a personable way. Don't forget those key volunteers and board members!
- Choosing a relevant theme that reinforces your mission and stays in viewers' minds.
- Involving your supporters by letting them take part in the video. Have them submit ideas for the video content or encourage them to participate in other ways.
Because this type of video can take so many forms, let's look at two examples of nonprofits who've used videos in fun, engaging ways.
Friends of Trees put a spin on the traditional Giving Tuesday campaign by poking fun at this important nonprofit day. In less than a minute, they promoted their cause, showcased ways to give, and had a little fun at the same time!
You can also draw some inspiration from One Girl's "Do It In a Dress" campaign video, which took their team to the streets to spread the word about their cause.
These videos both go to show that you can spread awareness for important issues while keeping the smile on your face. And remember: the more creative your campaign video, the more likely your viewers are to share it with their friends!
Pro Tip for This Year-End Video Strategy: Keep sillier videos on the shorter side and use them as a way to get viewers interested in learning more about your nonprofit. Always include your nonprofit website URL at the end of the video, and link to your site whenever you share the video, too.
Year-End Campaign Video Tip #4: Make the Most of #GivingTuesday
There's no way your nonprofit hasn't heard of Giving Tuesday (often stylized as #GivingTuesday), an annual day devoted to charitable giving after the hubbub of Thanksgiving dies down.
If you're not already, you can leverage the popularity of Giving Tuesday by creating a video that connects your year-end fundraising campaign to this popular holiday!
Keep in mind that you'll need to make your video stand out from the crowd of other nonprofit campaign videos that tend to circulate around this time. To do that, we suggest:
- Incorporating strong branding so that viewers remember your organization's name in association with your mission.
- Including a clear call-to-action to inspire supporters not just to watch, but to donate, purchase merchandise, volunteer, or whatever else you'd like to encourage.
- Sharing your video across multiple channels including social media sites, an email blast, and of course, on your nonprofit website.
You can take almost any angle with your Giving Tuesday video, but no matter what you do, make sure to put your mission front and center so that all the new viewers you attract can quickly understand the purpose of your organization.
Take a look at how March of Dimes Canada engaged with both donors and non-donor supporters by issuing a creative Giving Tuesday challenge in their campaign video.
Not only did they present a clear call-to-action that was both interesting and relevant to their cause, but this nonprofit also did a great job of incorporating their brand by keeping their logo in the corner of the entire video.
Looking for more #GivingTuesday tips? Check out this article from @Pay!
Pro Tip for This Year-End Video Strategy: As the March of Dimes Canada example shows, you don't have to push viewers toward donations in order to produce a successful video. Because Giving Tuesday is inherently social, you should encourage your supporters to share your video or engage with your nonprofit online to raise awareness for your cause, too.
Year-End Campaign Video Tip #5: Thank Your Supporters
If you think your end-of-year campaign video is all about your nonprofit, think again.
Quite the contrary, your video should help you steward donors and nurture supporter relationships by showing constituents what you've accomplished (and can continue to accomplish) because of their help!
If you're not sure how to convey your appreciation, follow these best practices:
- Show donors and volunteers what their gifts have achieved by using images and videos of successful projects.
- Make it personal by having members of your team (particularly an executive director, founder, or board member) say thanks in their own words, directly to the viewer.
- Don't be afraid to celebrate with your supporters! You've achieved a lot together, so you can use your campaign video to wrap up a successful year made possible through their gifts.
If you're in need of inspiration for your thank-you video, we've got you covered! Just check out how John Hopkins University used humor and a simple message from their president to power their end-of-year video.
Or follow a more traditional, heartfelt approach like the Dalit Freedom Network did in this short and sweet video featuring shots of the communities they support.
Get as creative as you can, but keep in mind — your videos don't need to be flashy, just genuine!
Pro Tip for This Year-End Video Strategy: The more specific your thank-you video can be, the more powerful it will be! Let donors see themselves in your appreciation video by referencing different fundraising events, campaigns, or volunteer efforts.
Your year-end campaign video should be a chance to have some fun, express your gratitude, and pat your team (and your donors!) on the back for a job well done this year.
Now that you've got some inspiration for your own end-of-year video, it's time to get the camera rolling! And while you're prepping your year-end campaign, be sure to check out these additional resources too:
- 13 End-of-Year Appeal Strategies for Nonprofits. Check out Double the Donation's comprehensive list of best practices for planning — and executing! — your year-end appeal strategy.
- 10 Amazing Year-End Appeal Ideas. Fundly's put together 10 easy ways to inspire donations this holiday season. If a video isn't for you, try these appeal strategies instead!
- 11 Strategies for Stellar Donor Retention. Creating a can't-miss video is one way to keep donors engaged, but it's not the only way! Read up on our favorite strategies for retaining donors over time.