Why Video is a Must for Non-Profits

Video is an Important Investment - Even for Non-Profit Organizations

Non-profit organizations face challenges unlike most businesses - limited budgets, small staffs, and the omnipresent need to be front-and-center in the minds of potential donors who make it possible to impact the people they serve. Those challenges are most obvious when trying to put together a marketing plan. How can you maximize success with the dollars you have to spend?

We work with dozens of non-profits, and in our experience, creating successful campaigns often takes a multifaceted approach and a lot of hard work. But video is and should be the central investment (and we’ll talk about that word in a little bit) any non-profit organization makes as it crafts its marketing plan.


There is no secret by now that video is the most effective way to reach an audience. The world of internet users are reading very little and watching very much. YouTube is now the number two search engine in the world and more than 85% of internet users watch at least one video every day. Since we know where the eyeballs are, it’s imperative to meet them there. Video is the most powerful tool to raise awareness about your cause, your why, and the people you serve.


OK, so you can’t do what you do without the dollars coming in. And it’s hard to justify spending a dollar unless you’re making a return on that dollar. According to an article by Fast Company, 57% of people who watch a video on a non-profit go on to donate money. (Full disclosure, this article is from 2013 - and considering the increase in sheer volume of online video, that number is very likely to have risen in the last five years.)


Video is not just a critical component for your online fundraising. It is equally, if not more important for your in-person events (think galas, awards shows, donor appreciation events, and more). It draws your guests’ attention to the stage, it breaks up an evening of speeches, and it helps move a program along. But more importantly, a powerful video that appeals to the audience’s sensibilities is another way to get them to take the step towards becoming part of your solution.

We recently completed a video (see just below) for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Heart Association. Its annual “Heart Ball” is a night to celebrate the organization’s successes, say thanks for those who advocate for heart health, and yes, raise money to continue the fight against heart disease. Before making the appeal for donations, our six-minute video was played to illustrate the disparities in heart health in our city, and highlight the role the American Heart Association plays in combatting those disparities.

We used the Philadelphia story video for the Heart Ball fundraising component. They raised more money in the room than I’ve seen in 4 years. It received really great feedback and definitely did its job.
— Lauren Rose, Sr. Communications Director, AHA Philadelphia

Our videos have been part of raising - literally - millions of dollars for various causes all over the greater Philadelphia area. But despite the varied causes, what each organization had was a willingness to take a calculated risk for a large return. Naturally, we hear a ton of reasons why “my organization is not ready, or not large enough, to spend money on video”. Here are the biggest hesitations we hear, along with (hopefully) some information to debunk those myths.

1. It’s Too Expensive

Truthfully, what your video costs really doesn’t matter. You read that right. As long as you are receiving at least a $1 return for each $1 spent, the amount you’re spending should not matter. Video is an investment for non-profit organizations. It’s no different than trying your hand at the stock market or buying a solid mutual fund.

If the production of a professional video costs you $10,000, but it helps you reach $50,000 in donations, wouldn’t you do it? What’s important is to create a definition of success, put in the work to achieve that success, and simply track the performance of your video by whether or not it’s helping you reach your goal. There are other KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) as well:

  1. Are you engaging your audience in a way that’s going to make them return?

  2. Are you attracting a new or different audience?

  3. Is the video keeping people on your website or social platforms?

  4. Can you use it (or versions of it) in more than one way?

2. I Can Only Use It Once

A lot of non-profits hesitate to take the plunge into producing video because they feel as though it’s a one-time purchase, and when budgets are tight, it’s very difficult to put all your eggs in one basket.

The reality is that the video can - and should - be used in many places. Show it off at your event, but get it on your website, your YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, email newsletter, and anywhere else you can think of. It can be sliced and diced into all types of versions and lengths, so that if you don’t think someone will spend six minutes watching your video on Facebook, you can put together a 60-second version of it with a call-to-action.

Also, don’t assume that just because you posted your video to your social media channels, all of your followers saw it. There is so much content out there, that it’s all too easy to scroll past your post on Twitter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with tweeting, Facebooking, Insta-ing (is that a word?) many, many times. You’re not annoying people. You’re giving them another chance to connect with you.

3. No One Will Watch

The numbers suggest otherwise. Web users spend on average 88% more time on a website that has video content vs. one that only uses text and pictures. Imagine how many more opportunities you’ll have to convert a viewer into a donor when they’re spending that much extra time on your site.

On Facebook alone, posts with video are dramatically outperforming ones with just still images. In total shares, posts with video were shared 1200% more than posts with just text and stills. That also drove 135% more organic traffic in 2017, according to AdEspresso. That level of engagement just facilitates word of mouth traffic, which we all know, is the most authentic ways of promoting your brand or cause.

(For more helpful information on ways to optimize video for social media, including whether to use “square video”, and the benefits of A/B testing, check out this great Hubspot article).

Still think your non-profit isn’t ready for video? It’s time to take the plunge. A study by Magisto suggests that, on average, each business in America will spend $20,000 per year on video, and that more than half of all business spend at least 25% of their entire marketing budgets on video. They can’t afford not to.

Contact Rob Czyzewicz 

P.S. - Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog on the right ways to approach your non-profit video, including what approach to take, how to tell your story, and tips on those quick DIY projects.