Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top 5 mistakes that charity programs make when creating a fundraising video for institutional donors

1. Forgetting that donor is a hero. The popular erroneous approach is to advertise how successful the program is and this should convince donors to support the program further. The end product looks like self-praising commercial, which only at the very end thanks all its donors and partners for supporting a project. Instead, the video should be showing the need and a role the donor plays in the cause. Perhaps the underlying fear is to admit there are still challenges.

2. No emotional content. The pervasive attitude is that emotions are only necessary to raise $3 pounds a month from individuals. Emotions are also key in persuading major donors as well, because the institutions (foundations and development agencies) are comprised of individuals. The decision makers are human, they are people who respond to messages that target both ‘the heart and the head’.

3. Long and super democratic approval process. For some reason it is not a fundraiser or a comms specialist who has the final word in the concept or storyboarding process, but a program head. There should be trust in fundraisers and belief that the way we communicate is based on more than 50 years of research in direct response and marketing communications.



4. Communicating everything. When we try to say everything, we end of up saying nothing. There should be one key take-away (and one secondary objective, if really pressed) that we want donors to remember. One overarching idea. But perhaps due to point #3 above when we follow an all-inclusive model while trying to please all program leaders, we lose the sight of the big idea. This is why it is hard to get the final clear punch line done.



5. Multi-purposing or trying to create a social media piece with hope there will be donations. What works for fundraising may not work for breaking the internet. In order to be an effective fundraising product, it has to show the need of a certain beneficiary, take viewer on an emotional journey, and offer a specific way they can make a difference, finishing with a clear 'ask'. So called ‘viral’ videos that are popular online are full of surprises, humor and hopeful messages, that make the online user feel differently when shared on their ‘wall’ or with friends, compared to the feeling we want to elicit from the donor.


It takes passion for fundraising, persistence and zen-type of patience to explain these 5 points to your colleagues. What seems simple, is not easy, right?

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