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8 guidelines for creating engaging nonprofit video content

March 24, 2022
Three coworkers collaborate on the same computer and brainstorm how to create the best nonprofit video content.

Video content can be a powerful tool to spread awareness about your cause. In fact, in a survey by Hubspot, 92% of markets said video gave them a positive return on investment. 

For your nonprofit organization, you can convey a tremendous amount of information in a few short minutes while also evoking emotion in supporters that might prompt them to give. With a relatively small investment, you can create simple, yet powerful video content that will motivate your audience to give.

Although professionally made videos are ideal, small organizations can leverage their own video-making capabilities to connect with their supporters. To help your team get started, here are eight guidelines you can follow to create compelling and effective video content!

1. Learn film basics

Even if you’re not a professional, it’s important to know a few film fundamentals before hitting record. To improve your video’s quality, consider these six basics: 

  • Audio Conditions. Film in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be interrupted. If you have trouble recording audio during filming, you can record it later in a quiet room and add it in during the editing stage. 
  • Lighting. Avoid lighting that comes only from directly above and bright sunlight as it creates harsh shadows. Instead, film in a brightly lit room, in the shade outdoors, or under cloud cover. 
  • Camera Orientation. Film with landscape orientation (horizontally) for videos you plan to upload to YouTube or your website. For some social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, film vertically as most supporters will view your content on their phones. 
  • Composition. Consider whether to film your subject in the center of the frame or use the rule of thirds. Filming close-up and straight-on can create a more serious, intimate feeling, which may be appropriate for emotional interviews and stories. On the other hand, using the rule of thirds can create increased visual interest, making it a useful tool for wide shots. 
  • Camera Angle. Keep the camera just above your subject’s eye level, slightly angled down, which is flattering for most people.
  • Stabilize. Use a tripod or mount the camera to something stationary whenever possible.

Another essential is to have a good attitude during your video-making process. Be conscious of what your team has the ability to create and be patient if certain steps end up taking a bit longer than you anticipated. At the end of the day, have fun and be proud of the authentic videos your team was able to produce. 

2. Grab attention with your opening

The first few seconds of your video should capture your viewers’ attention immediately. This can be accomplished with a startling statistic, quote, or simply a powerful combination of video clips and music that draws the audience’s attention. People also appreciate getting critical information fast, so a quick summary of what the video will cover can also be effective.

3. Connect with your audience

Consider what information is most important to your viewer and how you can show it to them in an interesting way. For many nonprofits, potential donors are really just looking to understand the impact of their donation. Show or tell them exactly what their money will be spent on.

4. Prioritize audio

People are often willing to forgive lower quality visuals as long as they can hear what is being said clearly. Most smartphones can record decent audio if you are careful about your surroundings and keep the subject relatively close to the mic. Or, you can make a small investment to boost your video project’s quality.

For general events and showcases, consider cardioid condensers microphones (directional) such as the Rode VideoMicro or Rode VideoMic. For interviews, consider a lavalier microphone such as the JK MIC-J 044 Lavalier.

The type of mic you should use depends on your camera, but any common DSLR will work with the mic systems above.

5. Keep it concise

With the popularity of short-form video platforms like TikTok, nonprofits can get more from their videos by following trends and keeping videos short. 

The length of your video will depend on its purpose and where you intend to post it. For example, 60-second promotional videos are useful for social media, and donor thank-you videos also only need to be a couple of minutes long. By contrast, longer videos tend to do well on YouTube, making it a useful platform if you want to explore an issue in depth through video. 

6. Add a call to action

Be sure to tell your viewers exactly what you want them to do after they finish watching your video by adding a call to action. Include links, steps for getting involved, and whatever other information supporters need to act. Make sure that your call to action is simple, easy, and quick to execute.

7. Editing and titles

Simple editing can add tremendous production value and credibility to your video. Plan for this to take some time, but there are several free and simple programs that will allow beginners to add titles, logos, background music, credits, and also do some basic cuts and transitions.

Some of these programs include iMovie (for Apple users) and Windows Movie Maker (for Windows users). If you’re willing to make an investment, Adobe Premiere can allow you to edit your videos more thoroughly and make them feel truly professional.  

8. Publish

Now that your video is ready for the world, you will need to put it somewhere where your audience can find it. Upload it to TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and any other social media channels your organization uses. Be aware that some platforms have limitations for file size and video length and plan your content accordingly. 

It’s also a great idea to have a YouTube channel where all of your videos can be kept in one place. YouTube video links are versatile as many social media channels, websites, and email providers will auto-generate video thumbnails and descriptions from a link.

Start making videos for your nonprofit

Although professional quality is best, your nonprofit’s team can still create genuine and powerful content that your target demographic will enjoy with the tools at your disposal. 

An effective video will allow your audience to emotionally connect with your purpose, which can drive engagement and ultimately encourage giving. And now that you know how simple it is to create a video of your own, it’s time to get started!  

Ready to Get Started?

    Supporter Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing