For business, storytelling is crucial. "Why Storytelling Will be the Biggest Business Skill of the Next 5 Years."
Storytelling should be a priority for small non-profits too. Your fundraising and volunteer base depends on how you tell the story of your work to the world. The challenge for most grassroots organizations, is the cost of media production.
Pooling resources is an old capacity building idea. I decided to see if it could work for mission driven small-scale video production, and at the urging of a friend, I started The Non-Profit Video Project. The goal is to help local non-profits produce compelling videos, to build financial and organizational capacity.
Video production requires a lot of people doing different jobs, which is why it can be expensive. So, you ask, how will we accomplish this miracle?
The model is based on these assumptions.
The Non-Profit Video Project officially launched our very first session in Belmont, MA a few weeks ago. I am directing the project, and the Belmont Media Center is providing support and technical assistance. This session is driven by volunteers. In the future, I envision the creation of a low-cost model that employs professionals in some of the production roles.
How does the volunteer model work?
In Belmont, I am facilitating a series of planning sessions with the leaders of each non-profit. Our work in the sessions is to come up with compelling concepts and scripts, plan shoot days, coordinate volunteer videographers and editors, and review footage and rough cuts. As a professional storyteller, I am guiding non-profit leaders through each step of the process.
The participating groups are:
Boston Area Gleaners
Habitat Intergenerational Program
Massachusetts Lifespan Respite Coalition
At the end, each non-profit will have a short, story-driven video to leverage recognition of their work, donations and volunteers.
"Subscribe to posts" above, for more like this. I will be writing on lessons learned from this project, and will be posting the finished videos. We hope we are creating a model that can work for other non-profits.
A shout out and thank you to the Belmont Media Center for supporting this crazy idea, and offering to be a testing ground for our first project. Don't forget to support your local community media!
As part of this collaboration, the finished videos will be aired on Belmont Media Center local access TV channels and will be hosted on belmontmedia.org; they may also be distributed to other community media centers and community access TV channels.
Your feedback and ideas are welcome!
Your non-profit just invested time, money and energy into making a fabulous video. You showed it at your Gala and raised more money than ever. Now it is on your web site. Everyone is applauding the success.
Are you done?
No, your work as a development genius has just begun.
A good video needs a good fundraising plan. If you show it to an event committee, it will inspire them to go sell more tickets. If you show it to a group of high end donors, it can inspire them to increase their donations. If you show it at a luncheon, you will get new first time donors.
Every week ask yourself, who am I showing the video to this week? What will my ask be when it is over?
Here are some more ideas:
How do you use your video to leverage donations? Tweet your ideas to me @TimeTravelProdu.
To effectively increase donations, non-profits need to tell their story in a way that moves people emotionally. There are many storytelling mediums such as written testimonials, photographs, audio recordings, and having people to tell their stories in person. I work in video, because I believe it can have a transformational impact.
This is a short exercise to help your non-profit prepare for a video that will help you build your capacity as an organization.
1. Talk to people who are deeply impacted by your work personally. Choose at least three people, and ask them to describe their life before and after they joined your program. Are you moved by how they tell their story?
TIP: Remember, not everyone is a good storytelling. Focus on the best storyteller, and find ways for the other people to participate through written testimonial or photographs.
2. Narrow it down. You only want to tell one story in each video.
TIP: You can focus on one person or one family who is impacted, or two to three people who have been impacted in a similar way and weave that story into one.
3. Get out that easel paper and a marker. What are some visual images that will help tell this story?
TIP: You can use visual metaphors if you provide a service that is difficult to film.
Now you are ready to find a film crew. A few more things to remember.
4. Keep it short. The best videos are emotionally compelling, and under two minutes.
5. Traditional story structure is your friend. Your video should have a beginning, middle and end.
TIP: Establish the facts (who, what, where), show us conflict (what is at stake), give us a payoff (how was this person transformed).
Make sure you focus your time and energy on ensuring that stakeholders see your video. There are many ways to leverage your video to bring in more donors, increase the size of donations, and help sell event tickets. See my post on Your Video is a Fundraising Tool for some ideas.
Why Storytelling Will Be the Biggest Business Skill of the Next 5 Years
Every story has a purpose. Subscribe to posts above.
Reflections on mission driven messaging for organizations, and practical tips for budget-friendly production. Occasional riffs on social justice. Grounded in the knowledge that storytelling drives social movements.
Documentary filmmaker and educator, former non-profit development director and labor organizer. Proud Mama. Based in Boston, MA. More here.
WITNESS Human Rights Video
Storytelling is a Business Skill
Center for Media and Social Impact
Progressive Communicators Network
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