The Case for Video Marketing and How Your Nonprofit Can Make Awesome In-House Videos on a Dime

Radio was the “theater of the mind,” prompting listeners to create a world with their imagination based on the words and sounds they were hearing. People would tune in on a scheduled day and time to listen to their favorite hero win the battle or save the girl. Then along came film, and with it the ability to see the action — the expressions, the landscape  — transporting us into someone else's imagination brought to life.

Outside of primetime television or regularly scheduled shows (soap operas, anyone?), few people are on such a “schedule” anymore. As a nonprofit trying to reach individuals beyond the noise of the media, how do we get your message in front of your audience? People are seeking their entertainment on Netflix or Hulu or play their DVR whenever it’s most convenient for them. They aren’t going to check in to your website every Tuesday at 7pm. So how do we capture their attention?

With social media and the expanses of the internet, you can bring your organization — what you do, how you do it, whom you serve — to the masses, and the best way to do that is through video! With video, you can tailor your marketing, the themes of your videos and the networks you share them on, to where your audience is spending their time.


Let’s Talk Video

Video is our favorite! At Reliant Studios, we’ve been working with nonprofit organizations for years, telling their stories and moving people to action. Video isn’t just something we “do,” it’s a medium that works:

  • In this article, one report reveals “that one-third of all online activity is spent watching video...People who watch video are interested, engaged and invested. Eighty percent of Internet users recall the video ads they see online, and viewers spend 100 percent more time on pages with video on them.”

  • This article explains that a study found “video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined,” and “before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available.”

What gets people to act is their reaction to a story. By using proven storytelling techniques, viewers can feel that they are part of your mission, see how their efforts are accomplishing tangible results and know that they are part of making a difference.

Where are People Watching?

YouTube essentially serves as a video search engine. With as many people who use YouTube, it’s often the go-to for people seeking something in particular. However, even if you host your video on YouTube (or Vimeo; either works!), you can embed that same video on your website. On social networks, you can upload your video directly to Facebook, share the video’s URL link on Twitter or include it on LinkedIn.

Uploading directly to Facebook is very effective! Why? Because as we’ve all seen, videos uploaded to Facebook start playing automatically as people scroll through their feed. The key with a good Facebook video is to capture your audience’s attention in the first three seconds. Another good strategy with Facebook videos is to add captions so that people can see what’s being said, often prompting them to click the video to start playing the audio.

Videos Help Boost your Marketing Efforts

By adding video to your marketing strategy, you can gain a whole slew of noticeable benefits.

Brand Awareness

The more you can get in front of your audience, the better. By posting simple, short videos, you’re increasing the frequency that people will see your organization’s name.


Online Engagement

You’ll get people clicking, sharing, commenting and more!


Tangible Engagement

With videos, you can include a “Call to Action” where you summon volunteers, ask for donations and encourage advocates to act. More than simply receiving “likes” or “shares” on Facebook, you could see numbers increase — whether that’s volunteers for an event or gaining new donors.


Testimonials Speak Loudly

Capture testimonials — whether from volunteers or donors — because they’re unbiased. People want to hear why someone else chose to give their time or money to your organization. They could give their time or money to anyone, but they chose to give to you; capture that and ask “Why?”


Endear Your Organization to Your Audience

Your video can be crafted in a way that feels true to what you stand for. Give people a clear understanding of who you are as an organization by showing the work you do and capturing the experiences — and life change — of those you serve. Reveal to viewers how the work you do positively affects the world, and they’ll be genuinely endeared toward your organization and your mission.

Producing Your Own Videos

How do you get people to pay attention and want to be part of your story? You can hire professionals to do your videos (which is fitting especially for large events), but you can also use the momentum of your stories to make videos yourselves.

Ultimately, you know your organization inside and out, and you have people on the ground hearing stories all the time: investigate those stories and capture them on camera. You know what your audience wants to hear most, so you can cater your videos to show with them what they want to see, whether you’re thanking your donors or encouraging sign-ups for a new event.

We don’t want your lack of video production, storytelling or equipment knowledge to hold you back. In fact, we believe ANY nonprofit organization can start capturing stories and producing simple videos.


5 Ways Any Nonprofit Can Capture Stories and Produce Simple Videos


Start by having conversations with your team about your audience and what they have responded to in the past. One nonprofit, Tiny Hands International, holds a meeting every Monday where they share stories they have heard from the previous week. That’s a lot, but even doing this once a month will give you a great arsenal when you decide to produce a video based on a particular story or theme.


Capture Moments

Some of our favorite stories and videos are what we call “Cinematic Gold,” which is being in the right place at the right time and simply being ready to pull out your phone or camera to capture a moment as it unfolds. You don’t have to pay particular attention to video quality as long as the moment is engaging. We’ve found that simply “being ready” is key!

Look at viral videos: most of them are shot with smartphones. And on social media, your audience will be more interested in the video’s content and more forgiving with video quality. Coach your team on the importance of recognizing moments as they occur, and don’t be shy in capturing them. You can always ask for permission later, but you can rarely recreate a moment!


Learn Your Smartphone

Learn to use the camera on your phone. Perhaps you don’t want to travel with expensive video equipment to your nonprofit overseas or you don’t have the funds to buy a nice camcorder or DSLR: whatever your situation, use your smartphone to your advantage. Once you learn the basics, you’ll be prepared to capture usable footage anywhere with the convenience and ease of using your smartphone.



Use social media to your advantage. Share moments through video as often as you can. For a small fee, you can even boost your favorite videos on Facebook, selecting an audience you think will most be interested. Take note of what people are responding to and adjust your sharing accordingly.


Attend Nonprofit Film School

At Nonprofit Film School, we designed our online courses specifically to help you tackle all things video — from story-seeking to final files — in the simplest way possible. Nonprofit Film School is designed for anyone seeking to learn the basics of video production: how to structure a story, use basic production equipment, interview others on-camera and editing a simple and effective video, all while making sure you can apply what you learn. Video is growing in popularity, and Nonprofit Film School equips budget-conscious organizations to produce videos that impact your engagement and bottom line.

Nonprofit Film School walks you through the whole video production process, from beginning to end, and you can follow along at your own pace. Our Courses in Storytelling, Pre-Production, Production, Cameras & Equipment and Post-Production are broken up into bite-sized modules, with videos lead by our team of expert Professors and tangible Bonus Resources to put what you’ve learned into action.


Perhaps you fear that you don’t have any stories to share — and that’s just not true. You do have stories, and we want to help you find them and share them with the world. We believe that developing the skill set of video production will boost your confidence, expand your messaging reach (and frequency), as well as gain audiences of dedicated, loyal and engaged fans of what you do and why.



Siu, E. (2014). Ignore Video and Miss Out on 69 Percent of Mobile Traffic. Retrieved June 10, 2016, from

Lung, H. (2014). Just The Stats: The Science of Video Engagement - Single Grain. Retrieved June 10, 2016, from



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