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The Biggest Mistake Nonprofits Make With Video

AnnieEscobarHeadshot-WordpressGuest blogger, Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.

Creating engaging, sharable videos doesn’t seem to come naturally for most nonprofits and I think I know why.  Instead of highlighting naturally dynamic stories about people, nonprofits tend to create videos about programs.

I call this The Program Trap.

Your organization’s job is to run your programs well. That’s why you care about the details of how they are run. But your audience is hungry for meaning, belonging and purpose.  They want to be a part of something that matters.

The best use of video is not to inform and educate.  It’s to make your audience feel something and through that emotional response, create a connection to your work. As humans, we respond to stories.  Stories about people we can relate to. Stories that show what’s at stake in your work. Stories that inspire us to see ourselves as a part of your story.

It’s about the why, not the what. Showing, not telling.  Feeling, not facts.

Recently, I saw a nonprofit video that claimed to tell ‘the story of [this program].’ But in reality, it was just a list describing what their program does.

So how do you know if you are really telling a story in your video?

Stories have a beginning, middle and end.  They have a protagonist who wants something- that could be a mother wanting a better life for her kids or perhaps your founder who wanted to find a solution to an intractable problem.  They keep people curious by making them ask, “How is this person going to get what they want?” They have tension then resolution.   Not all stories you tell have to be about the people you serve, but I’ve found these to be the most effective and moving.

Whenever I ask employees of non-profits what drives them to keep doing their work, time and time again, they tell me that it’s the stories of people they’ve met through the organization.

That’s where your power to inspire lies.

In my next guest post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to translate programs into compelling stories for video.

Does this resonate with your organization’s struggles to represent what you do?  What have you learned about how to encourage your organization to move away from descriptions and towards stories?

The RIGHT Way to Tell Your Story via Video

 

Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.

I’m on a mission to end bad nonprofit video. You know, the boring, long, put-you-to-sleep video about what the nonprofit does and not why, how or results. Nonprofits have too much on the line—and too many inspiring stories—for this.

When I first started working with nonprofits to create videos, I realized that communicators see the power of video to connect their audience to their mission, inspire action and build a movement, but often don’t know where to begin.

Overwhelmed, they put everything in a single video. So my business partner Ethan and I went on a journey to give our nonprofit partners a framework for thinking about video.

Here are two approaches we use with great success to help our nonprofit partners identify where their audiences are and what kind of video will help move them to the desired action. Give them a try:

1. How do you want to change the audience?

2. Focus in on a genre

The kind of video that you want to create must be aligned with your goals. It is not effective to create a campaign video asking people to take action on your cause, if they don’t even know what the problem is.

Listed in the image below are the six most powerful non-profit video genres. The colored dots correspond with the image above, highlight the strongest matches between genre and the movement you want your audiences to make:

Use these maps next time you’re starting the video development process to help you narrow your vision and define your goals. Good luck!

What other pressing questions do you have about your video strategy?