Twenty-odd years ago, the internet started opening possibilities for all kinds of organisations to get their message out there, but it wasn’t until the advent of social media that those possibilities virtually exploded open. For charities, this has meant reach like they never experienced before, bringing the message right to people’s daily newsfeeds and helping boost awareness of the various worthy causes that need their help.
Online media has forever changed the way people donate, with potential donors using online channels to find out more about what charities are in need and how they operate. In fact, of the four primary sources people use to understand charity organisations’ impact, three of them are digital - search engines, NPO website, and online video.
Boosting holiday donations
The year-end holidays are always a beneficial time for charities, with considerably more people donating over this period than any other during the rest of the year. By using online video, several charity organisations have successfully increased their donations received, particularly during the holidays.
For example, the Berkshire Humane Society managed to raise an impressive £21,000 in just over two weeks using a facebook-linked video campaign, and today their adoption videos average 3,100 views and 64 shares each, dramatically increasing the animals’ chances of adoption.
More than three-quarters of donors have said that they find online videos useful when selecting a charity to donate to, and over half said that they were prompted to donate immediately after watching such videos. And the holiday spirit strikes early - as early as August and September, donation-related searches climb a staggering 30%, so it pays to get cracking early.
How to make the most of your charity video
Using video, and getting started as early as possible, is bound to help you increase the donations to your organisation. But how can you maximise the impact - and donations - with your video? Here are our top tips:
1 - Share fresh content, and share often
Don’t allow your content to get stale and outdated. By sharing regularly, you maintain awareness and a relationship with your donors, and by using fresh, share-worthy content, you increase your chances of having that content liked, shared and viewed.
For example, the Elisha Project has been using video very effectively for quite a long time, and they’ve become quite expert at it. Their videos actively help them recruit restaurants and retail stores to donate food and clothing, and encourage community groups to distribute them.
2 - Know your target audience
Different people prefer to donate to different types of charities, it’s that simple. A dyed-in-the-wool supporter of charities for children is more likely to respond to a video for a children’s charity than to an appeal for homeless adults, while some people prefer animal shelters, medical research, disability support, or any of a wide range of charities. Fortunately, Facebook has some excellent targeting tools you can use to help you reach the audience most liable to like, share and donate.
3 - Understand the medium
Online video isn’t like television, and knowing how people watch videos can help you tailor yours for best results. Did you know, for instance, that 85% of people watch Facebook-linked videos with the sound off? That means you should include text captions, so that they can easily and fully understand your message.
How people watch videos also makes a difference. Almost all video-watching is done on mobile phones, which means the format should be suitable for easy mobile viewing - square video formatting makes for easier mobile viewing, and helps your video stand out. Just ask the Jane Goodall Foundation, who discovered that their square format videos - an extra expense of a mere £200 - were watched twice as often and shared three times as much.
Most people also make their decisions a lot more quickly than we think. On average, people choose whether or not to donate to a charity based on their video within the first minute. That means you should not only keep the videos to a minute or less, but you should also strive to make that minute as powerful and meaningful as possible.
4 - Timing is everything
As we mentioned before, people start their holiday donation online searches as early as August, and the rate only picks up in the run-up to the holidays. The earlier you get started sharing content, the better awareness you will create of your campaigns and your works in general.
But it’s not just about planned timing. Being prepared to disseminate video quickly has helped charities like ShelterBox respond to events as they happen. In their case, by getting video out about landslides almost immediately after they happened, helped them raise an extra $3,200. The moral of that story? Planned campaigns are necessary, but always be prepared to create and distribute content at the drop of a hat.
Mastering online channels is vital for charities today, and by following these simple steps, you can take advantage of online video to make your charity stand out.