Giving Tuesday Videos

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Every great Giving Tuesday campaign needs a great video!

Giving Tuesday is a full two months away, so there is still plenty of time to put together a short video to help publicize your campaign. Many of us have found this new giving tradition to be an excellent tool for connecting with new donors, while leveraging social media and email marketing to tell our clients’ stories and communicating the importance of our mission. Online video is an essential to making those connections, but where to start?

I am not a professional videographer (despite what I’ve led my Board and Development Director to believe!). But even an amateur can quickly learn how to hold a camera (or phone in most cases), the meaning of “b-roll”, how to properly light your subject, ask interesting interview questions, and even how to select the perfect music and edit everything into a polished final cut.

Follow these 7 steps to create a high quality video to complement your Giving Tuesday Campaign.

#1 Develop Your Concept

Once you’ve identified a small project that needs funding within your organization for Giving Tuesday, find the nearest white board and start sketching out a concept or narrative for your video. Start with three things:

  1. Define the need. “Our food pantry supplies our guests with shelf-stable pantry goods, fresh vegetables, and quality frozen meats year-round. But we know many of our guests are unable to afford basic hygiene essentials like toilet paper and toothpaste.”
  2. Make the ask. “This Giving Tuesday, help our food pantry guests get the personal hygiene products they need by making a gift to help us provide these basic essentials in our pantry for a full year.”
  3. Tell them how. “Visit www.chifoodpantry.org/givingtuesday now to pledge your support.”

The rest is up to you! So get creative. Spend some time watching videos from other nonprofits to get your ideas flowing. Remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery – if you see something cool that will work in your video, use it.

#2 Make an Outline

You can save time by writing a script and storyboarding. This will help you build a shot list and make the editing process go much smoother. You don’t have to be a trained cartoonist to make a great storyboard, stick figures work just fine! And if all else fails, use Google Image search results to help illustrate your story.

If you’re using interviews from clients or program staff, it’s important to allow them to speak from the heart and share their experiences. But make sure you’re asking questions that prompt responses that line up with your concept. And as a last resort, keep a few lines from your script in your back pocket to have them read.

#3 Budgeting & Equipment (and a few techniques that actually save money)

Making quality online videos shouldn’t cost you much, if anything at all. But if you’re working with a group of volunteers, staff, or clients, you may want to provide them with bottled water and snacks, especially if your shots will take more than an hour. You may also need to budget for royalty-free music (see the “Music” section below for more info), props, fuel for your vehicle, or depending on your concept, matching t-shirts for all of your subjects! These are not major expenses but nevertheless, you’ll want to make a budget and stick to it.

Cameras – A year ago, we budgeted for and bought a DSLR (which I have affectionately nicknamed, Rhonda), microphone, and got a monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud which included the video editing software, Adobe Premier. It has definitely bumped up the production values for my videos. But you can just as easily create beautiful compelling videos using your phone. Please, whatever you use to capture your footage, avoid shaky camera work by investing in a tripod, or simply hold your phone or camera close to your body while shooting.

Lighting – Lighting can make or break your project. Avoid shadows on people’s faces and murky backdrops by choosing environments with good natural light. Working from a church basement? No problem! Gather some table lamps to illuminate your subject with warm ambient light, and try not to rely on overhead fluorescent lighting, which does no one’s skin tone any favors.

Sound – Before you walk into a RadioShack (are there still RadioShacks?) to buy an expensive microphone attachment for your phone or DSLR, improve your sound quality with two simple tricks. 1. Get out of the echo-y hallway for your interviews or away from the noisy street, and find an intimate space with sound absorbing sheet rock walls or carpet, 2. Get close to your subject when they’re speaking.

Music – Stop reading, open a new tab, go to bensound.com, and bookmark it right now. Ok come back! This is my favorite place for royalty-free (and cost free!) music on the web. All that the composer asks is that you credit him in the video notes wherever you post it (look under FAQ/HELP, and read “What is the proper way to give credit?”). As much as you have your heart set on using that new Lady Gaga song in your video, don’t. It will get taken down by YouTube and Facebook won’t even let you post it. You can avoid this by using royalty free music banks like Bensound, or if you can spend around $20 for licensing, find something in the vast catalog over at AudioJungle.

#4 Scheduling

Take the time to sit down with program staff or clients and plan out your shooting schedule. It’s so important that everyone is aware that you are going to be filming. You never want to show up unannounced in the middle of a class or meeting with a camera in hand.

Make sure your subjects agree to be on camera, and it’s not a bad idea to have them sign a waiver.

#5 The Wonders of B-Roll

If you want to take your video to the next level, and I know you do, build some b-roll into your storyboard. B-roll is extra footage you capture which helps to breakup interviews or extended clips into smaller chunks, while adding to the narrative using supporting visuals. Get close up shots of tutors helping kids with homework, volunteers delivering food to homebound seniors, or rescued pets getting scrubbed down in a bath.

B-roll also helps keep your video short and to the point. Rather than using the full 8 minutes of your interview with the Executive Director, break it up using only the most salient sound bites and cover the transitions with your extra footage.

#6 Editing

If I’m being honest here, editing is tricky if you’ve never done it before. Luckily you can learn how in under an hour on YouTube. I started out using iMovie on my desktop Mac at home and as I mentioned above, have since graduated to Adobe Premiere. There’s a plethora of apps available, however, making it easy to edit your video directly from your mobile device that do a really nice job (both for Android and iOS). I’m a bit of a Luddite, when it comes to editing video on my phone I prefer the control of a desktop application. You may have Windows Movie Maker on your PC or iMovie on your Mac already installed, and both of those are fine! If you decide to make the jump to Premiere someday, I recommend this incredible course by Author Ashley Kennedy from Lynda.com.

#7 Post! Share!

The hard part is done and it’s time to take your exported video from your video editing app or software into YouTube and Facebook. I recommend doing both. Use your YouTube video for embeds on your website and for quick sharing on Twitter and through text messages and emails. Since Facebook doesn’t play nice with YouTube, you should really do a separate upload to your Facebook Page. This will allow your video to play automatically in your followers’ newsfeeds without having to click on the YouTube link.

It’s a nice touch to make your video accessible to the hearing impaired by adding closed captions. And for those of us that like to politely watch videos on our morning train route without the sound blasting from our devices, closed captions allow us to enjoy video content without annoying fellow passengers. There’s a simple two-step process for achieving this. 1. Create an .srt text file through YouTube, 2. Upload the .srt to Facebook.

Now your Giving Tuesday campaign is running on gas! Start sharing like crazy! Social media and email marketing campaigns are an obvious way to share your video, but take the time to send an email linking to the video to your board, your entire staff, and your family, asking them to share it too.

Please come back and share links with us in the comments thread to your videos. We’d love to see what you come up with. And good luck this Giving Tuesday!


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Stephen Barker is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services and one of YNPN Chicago’s Communications Co-Chairs. Follow him on twitter @svenbark or email him with questions stephen@ynpnchicago.org.