Guides & Resources

Engaging Donors With Video: 5 Tips for Getting Started

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Engaging Donor with Video

Imagine you’re a donor searching for a worthy cause to support. You come across one nonprofit’s text-heavy website and then a different nonprofit’s website featuring compelling video content that explains their work, mission, and impact. Which one would inspire you to give more? 

In an increasingly digital world, video is the key to engaging donors, marketing your mission, and building your case for support. If nonprofit videos aren’t already part of your outreach strategy, use these five tips to start creating compelling content.

1. Keep your videos short 

Studies show that after the first 10 seconds of a video, engagement drops significantly, meaning you have a small window of opportunity to grab people’s attention and get them invested in your cause. Start your videos with a compelling title and thumbnail to encourage people to press play. Then, get right to the point with an inspiring statement that convinces viewers to stick around for the rest of your message. 

For example, try starting with creating a sense of urgency and presenting a compelling fact about your cause. If the purpose of your video is to raise awareness for the fight against world hunger, your narrator might begin by saying, “We are in the midst of a global food crisis, with over 10% of the world’s population suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Our mission: Deliver assistance to those in need and work with communities to build resilience.” 

Once your viewers are hooked, draw them into the rest of your story. But be sure to keep the video between 2 to 3 minutes in length, as over 65% of video consumers prefer short-form video content. To share more information, consider creating a series of videos and staggering their release across your marketing channels. This will maintain a steady stream of engagement and create more opportunities to attract supporters who might be drawn in by different types of compelling openings. 

2. Leverage storytelling 

Turning your video into a story can leave a lasting impact on viewers and encourage them to support your cause. Tectonic Video’s guide to nonprofit video storytelling recommends keeping these best practices in mind:

  • Find a compelling main character. Center your video around real people and their stories. Choose a person or group of people impacted by your organization, such a beneficiary, donor, or volunteer, and show their connection to your cause. This will help create an emotional connection between viewers and your nonprofit. 
  • Set the scene. Decide where your video will take place. For example, you might choose to take viewers on a journey through the communities that you serve, or use a plain backdrop to center the audience’s focus on the main storyteller.
  • Solve a problem. Introduce a challenge that your character faces, such as homelessness. Then, explain how your organization is working to solve that problem with the help of donations. For example, you could say, “Thanks to your generous support, community members like Sam have a warm bed to sleep in and access to life-changing resources.”

To get started, compile your storytelling ideas into a detailed script and enlist members of your team to make edits and provide feedback.

3. Create clear calls-to-action 

Whether you’re promoting an event, marketing for Giving Tuesday, or launching a crowdfunding campaign, your video should inspire people to take action in support of your cause. Add a call-to-action (CTA) to the final scene of your video, so the viewer knows exactly how to get involved.

Here are few ways to naturally incorporate CTAs into your video: 

  • Narration: Use voice-overs asking viewers to subscribe, follow a link in the description, or reach out to you by phone or email. 
  • On-screen text: Explain how viewers can get involved by including a QR code, the date of your next event, or a bulleted list of next steps.
  • Buttons: Embed a button into your video that links to a donation page or other online resource you want to drive attention to. 

Remember to use clear and concise language in your CTAs. Short, bold statements like “Donate Today” or “Subscribe Now” can inspire immediate action. 

4. Prioritize high-quality production

While anyone can take out their phone and press record, a video that is filmed, edited, and produced by professionals is more-likely to drive results. Nonprofit video production companies are dedicated to helping mission-driven organizations create high-quality videos that inspire donors. 

In addition to working one-on-one with your organization to get to know your mission, values, and services, most nonprofit video professionals will:

  • Conduct market research 
  • Choose the right subjects to interview 
  • Film using best-in-class technology and techniques
  • Flesh out your ideas through storyboards and scriptwriting 
  • Create animations and graphics that bring your story to life
  • Ensure a polished final product through editing

With expert care and attention to detail, your video will be a valuable asset that helps you achieve your goals. 

5. Leverage multichannel marketing

Once your video has been filmed and edited, consider publishing it on Vimeo or Youtube, as these platforms provide built-in tools for tracking engagement. Then, share the link across multiple marketing channels like:

  • Email: Include a link to your video along with other relevant information, such as the dates of your upcoming events or the link to your donation page.
  • Social media: Splice your videos down into short clips and post them as teasers on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Use hashtags to encourage supporters to share the content with their own networks.
  • Website: Embed videos across key areas of your nonprofit’s website, such as the home page and donation page, to increase the amount of time that users spend engaging with your content. 

With multiple touchpoints, you increase your chances of reaching donors on their preferred platform and inspiring them to lend their support. Plus, each channel provides data that can be used to track the performance of each video and improve engagement. For instance, by tracking open rates on emails containing videos, you can identify the most engaged viewers and target them with additional messaging.

Now that you know how to engage donors with video, it’s time to create your own video content! Whether you partner with an experienced production team or oversee the process yourself, remember to track video performance and make improvements accordingly. In the end, you should have a seamless content creation strategy that supports your larger mission. 


Doug is the Founder & CEO of Tectonic Video. He has more than 20 years of nonprofit communications experience as a filmmaker, communications director, chief marketing officer and leader of two creative agencies for nonprofits. Doug is a global citizen having traveled to more than 50 countries. He earned his B.A. in Strategic Communications from DePaul University, and he's a frequent guest lecturer at Stanford University on topics related to nonprofit storytelling and storytelling ethics.

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08 Dec 2023 Guides & Resources
08 Dec 2023 Guides & Resources
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