After 10 Years, Movement Centre Needed to Surprise Those Who Knew It and Engage Those Who Didn’t — Online Video Did the Trick (Case Study)

After 10 Years, Movement Centre Needed to Surprise Those Who Knew It and Engage Those Who Didn't -- Online Video Did the Trick (Case Study)It would be natural to hear about The Movement Centre of Manitoba and assume it’s a hub for modern dance or exercise. But when you take a few minutes to view Our Story, the Centre’s new video, you’ll quickly understand the Centre’s work, client base and unusual success story. It’s a great model of putting online video to work its magic.

The Centre is a leader in helping children and adults with disabilities learn how to handle motor challenges to achieve optimal physical, cognitive and social independence through an unusual approach called Conductive Education. Conductive education is a complex concept and nearly unknown in North America, but is the critical differentiator for the Centre in its fundraising and program marketing. Here’s the marketing challenge: Audiences have to understand what’s unique about the way Centre staff work with their clients, and the relative impact of that approach, in order to grasp the organization’s value to the community.

This challenge loomed bigger than ever as the Centre’s 10th anniversary grew near. This all in the context of a bare bones staff: there is no Centre staff member tasked with communications, nor is there a communications-focused board or volunteer committee.

Nonetheless, Centre leadership was eager to use this milestone as a point of engagement to build understanding of the Centre’s way of working. As anniversary planning evolved, videographer Nancy Gregory (who had covered the Centre in her previous life as a newscaster) suggested video as the clearest, most engaging strategy for telling the Centre’s story.

Since I first covered the Centre several years ago, the story of their program and the progress of their clients has grown significantly. I wanted to do everything I could to audiences connect emotionally with the people who participate in these programs and with their families  And I knew I’d have so many great storytellers to choose from. Video was definitely the way to showcase the Centre’s impact.

Working closely with Gregory, Centre staff identified key goals for the video including establishing credibility within the medical community for the Conductive Education approach, increasing referrals from specialists and pediatricians and confirming to existing donors and sponsors that their investments do make a difference. Next they brainstormed on how to get the most from their investment, listing venues for the video (or part of it) far beyond the anniversary gala and as varied as distribution in DVD format to prospective sponsors and donors and  via the Centre’s Web site, and  projection at the annual open house for prospective clients and their families.

Then Gregory jumped into production mode:

This video finally presents the authentic story of the Centre’s clients and their families, in their own words. Some of the major donors didn’t truly understood how much their support was making a difference in the lives of so many people. Many of them had never visited to the Centre. So we took the Centre to them.

The video launched just a few weeks ago at the Centre’s open house, golf tournament and online. Response has been extremely positive, reports Gregory, with lots of ahha (sp?) moments:

Several donors came up to me at the tournament came up to me and said, ”I knew we were helping kids but had no idea how much.” And the Centre’s Executive Director shared this: “The responses have been extremely positive with comments such as ‘I had no idea that you worked with so many different types of challenges,’  and ‘wow – when you actually can see what you folks do, this really makes sense.'”

Gregory did a mini email blast to about 100 folks, although the Centre has not yet launched a press campaign or email blast about the video. Even so, Web site usage stats show a huge (292%) surge in first-time visitors to the site since the video was posted online two months ago. And visitors are spending an average of one minute more on the site (that’s a lot in the world of the Web).

Our Story is a model for nonprofit use of online video, addressing multiple goals and distributed in multiple venues. Clearly actions do speak louder than words for the Centre. It’s still early but the Centre is clearly getting a huge return on their video investment. .

P.S. Don’t forget to read 9 Keys to Using Online Video to Increase Your Nonprofit Marketing Impact.

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Nancy Schwartz on October 9, 2007 in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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  • russburke

    Nancy:
    Excellent concise case study. It echoes considerations I’ve been trying to address on our Sustainable Nonprofit’s “Marketing The Message” forum.
    Your case study touches on so many issues, not the least of which is that the ease with which one can create digital video is not a predicter of quality or efficacy.
    Thanks for the good analysis which I’ve linked to. Our readers interested in the Forum will certainly benefit from your perspectives!

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