Nonprofit Video 101: 3 tips to keep your videos on point

Video

Lights, camera, questions: three things every video producer needs
(photo courtesy Isaac via Flickr’s Creative Commons)

It was my first week as the brand-new, in-house video producer at Idealist and I was super excited about all the possibilities ahead. So when our executive director Ami mentioned that a woman he just met had a fabulous Idealist story, my video mind starting working on overdrive.

Apparently, Kate Horner had not only found her current job on Idealist, she had also found her grad program at an Idealist Grad Fair, and she had a long track record of finding internships and volunteer opportunities through the site.

I was so excited, I jumped straight into preparations for making a video.

With my co-producer Sean, we scheduled a day-long shoot with Kate that involved an almost 90-minute interview. When we returned to the office afterward, we realized the daunting task that lay ahead: how would we craft a three-to-five minute video with great details that stayed compelling AND ended with a clear call to action?

I sorted through the interview footage and assembled my first cut. It was over ten minutes long, and was confusing and unfocused. While I had gotten in every last detail of Kate’s journey—from volunteering to working for veterans like her brother—it wasn’t a video I would want to watch. And it didn’t leave the viewer with a clear message about why they should look for jobs on Idealist like Kate did.

We tossed that version out and narrowed our focus. We honed in on the moments where Kate spoke honestly about her fear, excitement, worry, and hope—themes we hear all the time from the Idealist community. We also keyed in on the little things Kate had learned when she used Idealist in her job hunt that could be useful tips to share.

With these things in mind, we were able to craft a very personal and relatable story, while weaving in an Idealist pitch.



 

Lessons learned

In the increasingly crowded online video playing field, content needs to be focused, compelling, and clear. (Short doesn’t hurt either.)

In this case, I let my excitement get the better of me, and lost sight of those tenets. The result was that I ended up having to do probably four times the amount of work to get to the end product.

But not for naught—I’ve taken this experience with me as we plan out our next videos. Now, before we do anything, we make sure to use the following advice as a guide:

1. Answer these four questions.

When you’re thinking about making a video, planning is half the process. It’s imperative to answer these questions before you even think of touching a camera:

  1. WHY are you making the video? Fundraising? Awareness? To increase your membership?
  2. WHAT are you trying to say? What is the message or information you want the viewer to come away with? The more focused the better. Try to keep it to one message per video.
  3. WHO is your intended audience? Donors? People who already know something about your cause? People who don’t know anything about it? Event attendees?
  4. WHAT IMPACT do you want to have on your audience? What do you want them to think? Feel? Do?

2. Keep it personal.

Once you’ve thought about the end goals of your video, use that to inform the storytelling. Try to frame your video around someone’s personal story—that always helps the viewer form an emotional connection with your message.

For example, the Girl Effect: the Clock is Ticking is a great video that shows how framing a larger issue around an individual story can lead to a very compelling call to action.

3. Make a specific ask.

So now, let’s say you’ve done your homework and invested a lot of time, money, and brainpower in creating a personal, compelling video that the viewer watches all the way to the end—congratulations! But if you don’t make it easy for that viewer to take the next step, they probably won’t.

So make it clear what you want them to do. Maybe that’s sign your petition, visit your website, join your organization, or donate to your cause. In any case, don’t beat around the bush: ask them directly.

As a general rule, I suggest ending videos with your website URL so everyone knows where to go for more information. (YouTube’s Nonprofit Program allows you to add annotations around the URL that can turn it into a clickable link.) For example, in Kate’s video, we added a screen at the end that summed up our message and made a direct ask: “Find your dream job on Idealist today. Search now.”

***

While the process of making this video was filled with ups and downs, the experience did make me a better producer. And now I get to put what I learned to the test: we’re looking to find our next “Idealist Story” to film. Maybe you can help!

How have you used Idealist to imagine, connect, and act? Share your stories in the comments below (or email me at liz@idealist.org) and if you’re in NYC or Portland, Oregon, you could be the subject of our next video. How cool is that?

For more information and resources related to nonprofit video, check out Vimeo and Stillmotion’s video storytelling series and See 3 Communications and YouTube’s study about video in the nonprofit sector, complete with tutorials and tips and tricks.

For more Idealist Videos, check out our Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/idealist.

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Throwback Thursday: Live from Argentina’s “Crazy Radio”

Did you know we used to create podcasts? Listen to one our favorites. 

Fotos estudio 1

The staff and contributors of Radio La Colifata.

On the outskirts of Buenos Aires, tucked away from the ubiquitous tango clubs and steakhouses, is Hospital Borda, the largest and oldest mental hospital in Argentina.

But this isn’t your typical psychiatric ward. In the middle of its courtyard stands a small, bustling building full of recording equipment and unbridled energy, where each Saturday patients gear up to take the mic. This is Radio La Colifata, the first radio show in the world to be broadcast from a mental hospital.

This podcast follows Idealist staff member Celeste Hamilton Dennis, a transplanted New Yorker, and Cecilia Gil Mariño, a native Argentinean, as they give us an intimate glimpse as to why everyone from taxi drivers to famous musicians can’t get enough of Radio La Colifata.

We hear from staff and patients, or colifatos, as they like to be called, about how it all began, why it’s lasted almost two decades—and why this innovative form of public therapy has spawned 40 similar radio stations all over the world.

To listen in English, click here.

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Roundup: LGBT community around the world

Each June, millions gather worldwide in parades, rallies, festivals, and more to celebrate LGBT pride. We end our weeklong spotlight by zooming out of the U.S. and onto firsts in the international sphere.

As LGBT rights become more prominent in the U.S., other countries are quickly catching on. Here’s a quick roundup of the latest happenings:

South Africa—

In April, South Africa (the first—and only—African country that’s legalized gay marriage) saw its first traditional gay marriage between Thoba Sithole and Cameron Modisane. From Zulu and Setswana outfits to a cow slaughter, the couple and their families spared nothing to stick to their ancestral roots.

“People are still ashamed because the vast majority of the black community is not accepting of being a homosexual. They see it as largely being a ‘Western trend’ that is in fashion lately,” Cameron told reporters at the ceremony. “[We want people to see that] being gay is as African as being black.”


Singapore—

Meanwhile, in Singapore, where sexual contact between men is still punishable with up to two years’ in jail, a less traditional movement has taken flight—in the form of an online magazine directed toward the country’s gay male community. Launched in February, Element has managed to bypass the government’s strict media laws with it’s solely online presence while still capturing the attention of readers across Asia, if not the world. Publisher Noel Ng told the Atlantic that he sees the magazine as a way ”to restore the dignity and worth of every gay man.”

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Ukraine—

Shortly after Amnesty International published an article urging the Ukrainian government to introduce anti-distcriminatory legislation (following a slew of anti-gay attacks in the country), the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, held its first gay pride parade on May 25. Told to dress in comfortable shoes (for running) and non-offensive clothing, the peaceful, un-dsirupted crowd was flanked by police support and public encouragement as they marched through downtown. “This can be considered a historic day,” said Elena Semyonova, one of the event’s organizers.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Photo credit: Associated Press

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Want to get involved in the LGBT cause? Search almost 6,000 nonprofit jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, events, and like-minded people from around the world on Idealist

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Our staff picks of the TIME 100

TIME Magazine recently released its list of 100 of the world’s most influential people. Though the list includes people from a variety of sectors and industries, there are many who touched our lives in some way. See our staff picks in the slideshow below.

Have you checked out the TIME 100? Who’s influenced you?


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Newspapers Go Nonprofit

By Flickr user allaboutgeorge (Creative Commons)

We all know that traditional print media companies are converting to online and new media formats as fast as they can. But did you know that news services are also converting to the nonprofit sector in larger and larger numbers?

Of course, nonprofit and independent publications, radio stations, and websites have been around for a while. But only recently has the nonprofit model come to be seriously considered as the future of the whole newspaper industry. The nonprofit news model is appealing because it allows journalists to cover the stories they think are important, rather than the ones that will have the most shock value and gain the most clicks and advertising revenue.

If you want to know more about how nonprofit news sites are run, check out this introduction and archived online chat with Andrew Donahue, the editor of Voice of San Diego. He explains that “In nonprofit funds, foundations enjoy funding specific projects or themes (science or environmental reporting in general), or a project on community successes. However, funders don’t have special access to reporters, don’t control what stories get written and don’t say how the stories are written.”

For examples of thriving nonprofit news sites, look at MinnPost, New Haven Independent, ProPublica, and Voice of San Diego. The Bay Area News Project and the Texas Tribune are about to launch and add themselves to the mix.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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