Budget Friendly Videos for Nonprofits

Budget Friendly Videos for Nonprofits

By Shaun Smith, Published on CharityVillage.com on July 4, 2011

Video has long been a highly effective medium for getting out a message, but only in recent years — with the advent of inexpensive cameras, consumer-friendly editing software and broadband Internet — has it become truly accessible to everyone, including your nonprofit organization.

The apparent ease of production, however, does not mean video-making should be taken lightly. A well-crafted PSA or information video posted on your website and YouTube can be wonderful for garnering attention for programs, but a poorly executed one may well lack the flash to grab people’s attention on the video-saturated web.

“Just a couple of years ago there seemed to be a movement toward low-quality video,” says Mike Edgell, an award-winning video producer with the marketing firm Thornley Fallis. “It’s a connected, online generation, and for some reason people thought quality didn’t matter anymore. But would any nonprofit write a poor press release, or not prepare for an important speech, or not fix the sign on their building if it fell down? Why drop the ball when it comes to video?”

Of course, the reason is usually expense. It takes more than just a good camera to make a good video. Indeed, Edgell says that at the upper end of the scale, a video of TV-commercial quality can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, options do exist for getting the job done for quite a bit cheaper than that, from hiring students, to holding contests, to teaching courses and enlisting volunteers.

The United Way of the Lower Mainland, in British Columbia, launched the Care to Change Video Competition last March to engage with the online community, especially youth.

“I really feel it is important to engage youth,” says United Way board member Catherine Warren, “specifically using new media where they engage in dialogue and relate to their friends.”

The contest, now closed for submissions, asked youth and adults to submit videos dealing with issues such as bullying, poverty and loneliness as experienced by children and seniors. In August, a shortlist selected by an independent jury will be posted to the contest website, where viewers can vote for their favourites. Winners in a variety of categories will be announced in September, taking home prizes such as professional video equipment, computers and retail store vouchers. Top winners will be screened at this fall’s Vancouver International Film Festival and posted to the nonprofit YouTube channel VISOgive.

Warren says the objective of the contest was to foster dialogue, but she stresses it was important to make sure videos were of a certain standard. “Part of the direction we gave people was to inspire audiences, but to use artistic touches to do that,” she says. “The whole idea was to motivate the audience to act.”

To that end, the contest website offered a Video Toolkit containing links to such things as royalty-free sound effects and music, storyboarding instruction, YouTube’s tutorial page called Creator’s Corner, and a filmmaking workshop.

“We have just been overwhelmed by the content, quality and variety of submissions,” says Warren. The contest generated a total of 70 entries.

Beyond YouTube and the contest website, the finalist videos will also be made available for use by some 1,100 organizations that are part of the United Way’s partner community in the lower mainland. “They represent business, labour, public sector and nonprofits that we support or that support us,” says Warren.

This is an excerpt. Click here to read Shaun Smith’s full article on CharityVillage.com.