Fundraising 101

What ROI Should You Expect from Your Nonprofit Video?

In the fundraising world, ‘storytelling’ is the buzzword du jour. 

Written stories, face-to-face donor events, appeal letters. Engaging through storytelling is a way to touch a donor’s heart, connecting them to your nonprofit.

One way to tell a story is through video. Yet, paying for video production is a hard financial choice for some fundraisers. The underlying thought is videos come with a steep price tag and an unknown return on investment.

At our free, Fall speaker series, Building Donor Connections Through Multimedia held at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership, we brought together three multimedia specialists to discuss best practices in multimedia storytelling. Our experts, Dana Michelle Cook and Katie Wilkes, co-founders of Freeheart Creative, and Lis Martin, Principal and Content Director at Statement Communications, answered this exact question. What type of return on investment can you get from a video?

We should note, producers and video editors understand nonprofit budgets are NOT Hollywood film budgets. So, don’t let funds deter you away from making a video. Instead, ID what you want this video to convey and what ROI it needs to serve.

For one, identify your audience. Who is this video intended for? Is this for an appeal at a large-scale fundraising event. Is this for a targeted social media audience? If this is for volunteers? 

Next, determine what your story is and how your targeted audience should hear/see that story. Is the story where donations went, or where donations are needed? Is it a thank you video? Making sure the right story is told to your target audience is key to a successful video. 

Before you produce a video, determine where it will ‘live.’ Will it live on your website? Will it be used on social media? Will it be in an email appeal? Determining where this video lives will give you some ideas on what it should say, how long it should be and how your audiences will hear it.

What’s your budget? Having a concrete number at the start helps you convey your wants and needs to a production company. A client of ours sought professional advice from a board member after determining their budget. Asking the pro ‘what’ $3,000 could get them helped the nonprofit figure out what they could expect without paying more. In another case, a Giving Tree Associates client spoke to their board. Low-and-behold, a board member had a pro bono connection to a production firm — they paid zero for their fundraising video! 

So many times the word video is thrown around in nonprofit meetings, We need a video. How about a video? It’s so easy to make a video! All three panelists at our Fall event remarked that if a video inspires current donors and establishes future conversations about your nonprofit, then the video will end up paying for itself. Each of these panelists remarked how each of their nonprofit videos garnered notable returns. One stated an influx of $1.5M at a fundraiser. Another was told of a 400% lift on website engagement in the first 6-months the video was live.

In the end — if your video tells an authentic story, is seen on several platforms, and is shown directly to donors — the video will have a positive ROI.

To obtain the best ROI for your video, utilize our helpful checklist and ensure your video can be shown on several platforms, directly to donors, tells an authentic story and is inspirational!