So you’re ready to get serious about video, but don’t know where to start? We get asked all the time what types of videos a nonprofit should have. We used to say, “just start anywhere and build your library of videos over time.” But after working with dozens of nonprofits for close to a decade, we now believe there are 5 videos every nonprofit needs to establish a baseline of credibility. Moreover, these five are listed in order of importance, with #1 being the most important.

1. Organizational Video

Every nonprofit, foundation or corporate philanthropy needs an organizational video (sometimes called a brand film) that lays out your organization’s case for support.

Length: 2-3 mins
Style: Live action w/ motion graphics
Audiences: All
Production Value: High (professional)
Frequency: Yearly (or every 2 years)
Tone: Authoritative, compelling
Purpose: Translate your case for support into a brief video with a call to action. This is your core video asset, and you’ll share it with everyone
Distribution: Upload to Youtube, embed on your website (home page), share with your email list, post on social media channels
Additional uses: Create 30-second and 15-second versions for online advertising and sharing via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

Tech for Global Good–Program Overview by Tectonic

Anthem for Pluralsight One by Tectonic

2. Story Video

There are a few important questions that every potential supporter asks a nonprofit. Two of the big ones are, “what is your impact?” and “why should I care?” This film is meant to answer those questions by telling the story of one of your beneficiaries or clients. There should be no doubt in viewers’ minds that the work you’re doing is changing lives and that your organization is worthy of support.

Length: 2-6+ mins
Style: Live action
Audiences: All
Production Value: High (professional)
Frequency: 1 or 2 stories each year
Tone: Emotional journey (lows and highs); end with a crescendo
Purpose: Demonstrate your impact with emotion
Distribution: Upload to Youtube, embed on your website (home page or results page), blog post, share with your email list, post on social media channels
Additional uses: Create 30-second and 15-second versions for online advertising and posting via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

Nissima’s Story for Embrace by Tectonic

Jeff’s Story for Opportunity Enterprises by Tectonic

3. Explainer Video

While Organizational and Story Videos are for all of your audiences, your explainer film will be for those who want dive deeper into the specifics of your work. These films are often more cerebral and feature motion graphics or animation.

Length: 2-3 mins
Type: Animation or live action with motion graphics
Audiences: Those with a deep interest in your work and knowledge about the social sector
Production Value: High (professional)
Frequency: Every 2 years
Tone: Educational
Purpose: Clarify what you do and how you do it; make audiences think, “Wow, they’ve thought of everything. They are really smart.”
Distribution: Upload to Youtube, embed on your website (work page), share with your email list, post on social media channels
Additional Uses: Still frames from this video can be used in your print collateral, on your website, or on social media to explain how work

How Nuru Works for Nuru International by Tectonic

Movement Capacity Assessment Tool for Global Fund for Women by Tectonic

4. Campaign Video

Your organization should have some kind of campaign going almost all the time. Whether it’s a fundraising campaign, a recruitment campaign for volunteers, or an advocacy campaign to advance your mission, your campaign needs a video to compel people to take action.

Length: 2-3 mins
Type: Live action with motion graphics
Audiences: Activists and small donors
Production Value: High/Med
Frequency: 2-3 each year
Tone: Compelling
Purpose: An old coworker of mine said a campaign isn’t a campaign unless a) it has a specific goal, b) to meet a specific need, c) in a specific timeframe, d) with a compelling sweetener (i.e. a match) to create urgency. This video is to compel action.
Distribution: Upload to Youtube, embed on your website (your donate page), share with your email list, post on social media channels
Additional Uses: Create 30-second and 15-second versions for online advertising and posting via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

How to Change a Broken World for World Relief by Tectonic

“5” for Nuru International by Tectonic

5. Update Video

Your audiences need to a) be reminded that you exist, b) be amazed by your work, and c) be compelled by your impact. By regularly sharing “homemade,” low-production quality update videos from the “frontlines,” you build a relationship with your audiences that will connect them to your mission and organization.

Length: 10 seconds – 1 min
Type: Live action
Audiences: All
Production Value: Low (shot on an iPhone or prosumer camera)
Frequency: Monthly
Tone: Current, unpolished and authentic
Purpose: Keep your organization and build a human-like relationship
Distribution: Share with your email list, post on social media channels

BONUS: 3 Additional Types Of Video

Congratulations! Now that you’ve created the 5 videos that every nonprofit needs (and planned to update them regularly), you’re free to start thinking about additional types of videos that will set your organization up for success.

Origin Story Video

Everyone loves a good origin story (just look at all the comic book movie franchises!), and many nonprofits were started by compelling people doing extraordinary things in response to a vital need. Telling the story of how you were founded and can endear people to your organization and help them feel like they are part of your amazing story. This video would be a welcome addition to your About page on your website.

Who We Are Video

If you’re looking to make a few key hires or are recruiting volunteers or partners, this video is essential. A “Who We Are” video shows off your amazing team and illustrates your culture. This video answers the question,”Who are these people, how do they behave, what do they believe,” and “do I belong.” Perfect for your Careers page or your About page on your website.

Donor Profile Video

Profiling one of your donors is a great way to share about how awesome you are without coming out and saying that you’re awesome — because your donor will do it for you. Have your donor share why they think you’re amazing and what they support you. Their example can inspire others to give too.

Ok – that’s enough to get you started. Go forth and make some videos!

Douglas Scott

Douglas Scott

Doug is the founder of Tectonic Video. He has extensive experience working with nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropies to translate their strategic objectives into stunning creative.

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