Charity Videos: How charities can get the best ROI from video content

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Empower Life

Reading Time: 15 minutes

You’re already using video, but now it’s time to maximise your ROI. Here’s how charities can get the best ROI from video content used along the audience journey, by producing the right content at the right time.

By employing video marketing strategies at different stages of your audience journey, you’ll be able to get the most out of your overall campaign. 

In this guide, Bold Content Video and Empower Agency have come together to share some tips for keeping costs low and quality high, to ensure your video content is working hard for you. 

Produce video content that counts

Bold Content and Empower share their expertise to help charities produce the right content at the right time. 

Redundant content can be an expensive and time consuming process that ends up costing more than just time and money. Negative impressions can be hard to change, and when you’re working with limited resources you need to make sure that your content is relevant and making an impact.

It’s all about creating content that’s geared towards reaching your target audience at different stages of their audience journey. The more your content relates to their position in the Donor Lifetime Cycle, the more likely it is to be successful. In this guide we’ll walk you through the best types of video content to produce at each touchpoint with your donors, to make sure you get great ROI on your content creation.  

Using the Donor Lifetime Cycle

Marketers around the world have different approaches to the concept of a sales cycle – or ‘cultivation funnel’ as it’s often called in the world of nonprofits. Although the phraseology might change, the principles (on the whole) stay largely the same. We’ll be using these basic principles in our video marketing strategy.  For charities we like to call the audience journey the Donor Lifetime Cycle –  which is essentially an extension of the AIDA framework (Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action), just with more relevance to the longer-term goals many charities have, such as regular donation, legacy and gifting.  The Donor Lifetime Cycle is a valuable tool to identify key touch points your charity has with potential donors. You can then use these touch points as a guide for your content creation.  If every piece of content you create is targeted at one stage in the cycle, then you’ll ensure all your content and video marketing is relevant for your target audience and their relationship to your charity – thus helping to nurture potential donors to become long term supporters.

The Six Stages

We’ve broken up the Donor Lifetime Cycle into six stages that cover all of the important touch points a charity will have over the course of a donor’s lifetime:

Awareness

Interest

Consideration 

Conversion 

Retention

Loyalty 

Creating content at each of these stages in the cycle will help to enhance customer experience and increase ROI. That’s because your content will be tailored to their specific needs and interests at different parts of their journey. If their questions are answered and their needs are met, they’ll progress to the next stage of the cycle. Let’s put it this way: if you’ve only just found out about a charity, you don’t want to be hearing about legacy gifting already!  You want to make sure that that potential donor is only accessing content geared towards the Awareness stage that introduces them to your charity and your mission.

The Tent Strategy

Your content marketing strategy should be working together towards a common goal.  Content marketing covers everything from your blog, email newsletter, copywriting, infographics and video. It’s important that all elements work together to communicate your message.  We like to think of a content marketing strategy like a tent. For every major piece of content you produce (the “tent pole”) you use “tent peg” content, such as blog posts, to lead audiences from other sources to your central content. This tent pole / tent peg principle is an effective way to ensure that your marketing strategy is buoyant and cost-effective. We call this “Halo Content” as it surrounds your pillar content, which you’ve invested a lot of time and money into – such as a promotional video.  Charities can work with agencies, such as Empower,  to work out and manage a content marketing strategy. This involves making sure that every aspect of your content marketing is pertinent to your overall campaign. If you’re pushed for time, agencies can assist with the production of your content too – which frees you up to focus on different things. This guide will walk you through the six key “tents” that we think your charity could benefit from.

Video Content Creation Along the Audience Journey

Tailoring your video content to where your audience is in relation to your charity is key to a successful campaign. The more relevant your video content, the more resonant it will be. So it can be helpful to use the six stage customer segmentation as a guide for creating videos that support long-term lead growth. 

So let’s look at our Donor Lifetime Cycle and consider what type video should be used when, and what halo content we can produce to support it.

This funnel we’ll also suggest how your video marketing budget could be broken up, to ensure that you’re investing money at the right touch points. 

Awareness

Awareness is the discovery phase where a potential donor learns about the charity and your work.

This is where a brand video can have the most impact. 

Brand videos should be a creative introduction to the charity mission. Keep it short (around 30 to 45 seconds) and try to make it entertaining or rewarding to watch. 

Budget allocation: This is where most of your budget should be allocated (we recommend allocating 50% of your video marketing budget here) so make sure you invest in producing a high quality video that can be used as evergreen content on your website, socials and as ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. This might be the first time that a potential donor engages with your brand so you want to make a good impression. Allocating enough budget to make a high quality piece will give a good first impression. Making something that connects with the viewer on an emotional level or in an entertaining manner is a great way to get them to engage with content in the next stage of the donor cycle.

Halo content ideas: print ads, mail drops

Distribution channels: homepage, TV, paid social, dark social 

Interest

Once you’ve got the interest of your audience, they’ll most likely start to research your charity. 

Maybe that’s reading multiple articles across your website, looking at Charity Checker and seeing what impact your work is having on the community. 

Producing content at this stage of the customer-lifetime cycle is all about answering donor questions. This could come in the form of an About Us video, an FAQ video, a charity history video, or explainer animations. 

These videos can be longer, up to 2 minutes in duration, so you can give your audience a clear overview of your charity impact and core values. 

Budget allocation: we suggest using 25% of your budget at this stage. You can keep costs low and quality high by using motion graphics and animation to cut down on expensive shoot days and casting talent. 

an illustration of two people on searching on the internet

Halo content: impact reports, research papers, blog posts, statistics, about us webpage, charity history webpage

Distribution channels: website

Consideration

The Consideration stage is designed to encourage your leads to start engaging with your charity. 

Engagement might be via following on social media, liking, commenting, and sharing posts; attending events and listening to podcasts. 

Here, videos with real stories can get your audience thinking about the people your charity helps. Think about producing case study videos that get your audience engaging with real people and the difference you make. 

Tell human interest stories about your beneficiaries instead of facts and stats (that comes later). 

Videos can be as long as 3 minutes, as long as social media cut downs are also created for shareability. 

Budget allocation: These case study videos don’t require a huge amount of investment. Consider allocating just 5% of your video marketing budget to this stage, as you encourage customers to start engaging with your charity on an emotional level. These films can be simple interview set ups, with subtitles and a few motion graphics to keep costs low but audience retention high. 

Halo content: podcasts, magazine articles/PR, influencers, YouTube channel vlog, blog posts

Distribution channels: specific landing pages, social media, Vimeo and YouTube

Conversion

A crucial stage where your prospective customer becomes a donor for the first time. 

Donation could be as simple as a text donation, or attending a charity fundraising event but sometimes viewers need that extra bit of content to get them across the line. 

When asking for a donation your call to action is an unusually tough one in the world of online video. You’re not asking them to download a whitepaper or click to learn more… You’re asking for their money but they won’t be receiving a product or service in return.

So in order to get someone to make a change to their spending habits you need to have taken them on a journey that will lead to that change. The journey could be the story arc of a character who was helped by your charity. Assuming you’ve already taken them on that journey in the content that you’ve created up to this point, then the final piece of content needed might be as simple as a piece of social proof. This could be in the form of a testimonial from a donor saying why it’s important to them to donate to your charity or how it makes them feel to have given to your charity.

In order to capture a testimonial from an existing donor you could ask them why they are helping, who they are helping and how they are helping by donating to your charity. 

Hearing a short message from another person who has decided to give is often all that’s needed to nudge a passive viewer into action. 

illustration of a man standing by a phone with the words donation

Budget allocation:  Think about allocating 10% of your budget here. It’s about affirming the messages they’ve already seen and making them feel comfortable about donating.

Halo content:  written case studies on website, interviews, filmed speeches from events

Distribution channels: YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, newsletter

Retention

This brings us to the Retention stage in the customer journey. Once you’ve converted them it’s now about how you encourage the customer to become a regular donor. 

We think one of the best ways to convert one-off donors into more frequent donors is by telling a story. Triggering emotion has the power to change perspectives.  Whether you’re telling an uplifting or sad story, human-interest narratives are vital components of conversion. 

So, tell a human story. Keep the video under 2 minutes but make sure they are moved. 

Tell stories about the beneficiaries of your charity that will entertain an audience member or move them or generate empathy.  

Big things happen at this stage. Maybe your customers run a marathon in aid of your charity. Maybe they do something simple like a Facebook birthday donation, or host a bake sale or coffee morning. Maybe they set up a regular donation and subscribe to your newsletter and YouTube channel. 

The Retention stage is all about triggering action. Getting your customers to feel a part of your community and showing how their actions can make a meaningful difference. 

This is where you want to make videos full of compelling statistics and stories. Charity Bigger Impact Videos will keep your audience engaged with your work and feel like a part of the narrative. These videos can be up to a minute long and filled with positivity on social outcomes and how it comes back to help the individual. 

an illustration of people being collected by a giant magnet

Budget allocation: You don’t need to set aside a big chunk of time, energy or money here. Keep investment low by using user generated content (UGC) – share videos of your customers whilst fundraising, use behind the scenes images and footage. Just keep about 5% of your budget aside for post production costs like editing and adding motion graphics to the video to keep it dynamic and professional.

Halo content: sharing stories on social media, charity event advertising, newsletter

Distribution channels: YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, newsletter

Loyalty

Finally, we’re at Loyalty – where you engage with long term donors. 

By now, your donors will be regularly sharing your content, perhaps volunteering and might advocate for your charity at events, on social media and otherwise fulfil the role of a charity brand ambassador. 

At this stage you might want to consider creating Legacy videos designed to encourage gifting. This video will have a specific call to action about how much impact a legacy donation would have. 

The target audience for this campaign would be regular donors and careful consideration must be taken in terms of messaging. We recommend legacy videos being 90seconds long and principally being sent to customers via direct messaging, rather than being presented on your website or social media. 

Budget allocation: If you’re an eager mathematician, you’ll realise that you’ve only got 5% of your budget left to spend on video content.  This is because you’re targeting a small and rather niche audience. 

Halo content: newsletter, mail drop, direct email 

Distribution channels: direct mail, specific landing pages

Videos to help the beneficiaries of your charity.

Sometimes charities use videos to directly communicate with and help people. 

One great opportunity for these beneficiary focussed videos is for charities to raise the budget for video creation via corporate sponsorship. If you can capture the imagination of a brand marketing team with a proposal for a video that can only go ahead with their help then they may well come on board and fund a video which has their logo on the end.  

Answer donor questions

Each stage of the funnel is really about answering audience questions. For example:

Awareness. Who are you?

Interest. What do you do?

Consideration. What difference do you make?

Conversion. How does your work change people’s lives?

Retention. Where does my donation go?

Loyalty. Am I a valued donor?

If every potential question that a donor might ask is answered in content across your marketing, you’ll be able to build brand trustworthiness which will ultimately convert to brand loyalty.

Regular donation to a charity comes as a result of finding a cause that seems trustworthy, that supports an important cause, and values it’s donors. Transparency can help to nurture amazing relationships with donors and earn their support.  

Tip. Make a list of every question a donor or potential donor has ever asked. Do you answer these questions in your marketing? If not, is it something that can be addressed in blog posts, FAQ pages or video content? The more information you can provide to your donors about what matters to them, the better placed you’ll be for converting your leads into lifelong supporters.

Distributing your video

Once you have your plan for what videos you need to produce, you’ll need to work out the best way of distributing them. Here, we’ll go into more detail about the possible ways you can distribute your video content at each stage of the audience journey. 

infographic of donor lifetime cycle

Maximising ROI

We understand that producing video content can be expensive. That’s why we share some top tips for producing high quality video content for a fraction of the cost. 

Repurpose Content

A great way to save time and money is to repurpose old video content. By reusing and adapting existing video into different formats, you’ll be able to target your audiences again in different ways or on different platforms.

Look at the outtakes and the content that wasn’t used, as well as the material featured. You’ll have tons of footage from the filming day and possibly some behind the scenes footage that could make some great B-roll for new videos, halo content, or be used on social media. 

What about B-roll?

B-Roll is an industry specific term that refers to footage shot in addition to the main action. B-roll refers to footage that shows the general atmosphere of the location, event, shows specific elements of what the interviewee is talking about, establishes the setting of the video etc. These are shots to which the editor can cut while making the edit.

Use animation and motion graphics

Adding animation and motion graphics to live action content is a cost-effective way to add visual flair to a video, without having to capture B-roll or use expensive and generic stock footage. 

Motion graphics add a touch of quality and dynamism beyond the usual opening titles and lower thirds. Kinetic typography is often used as a form of motion graphics to add energy to your video and keep your charity’s brand at the forefront of your viewer’s mind.

Get sponsorship

Brands love to get their name out via video so if you can entice a brand to sponsor a story that your charity can tell then both parties win. The brand association is valuable to the brand so don’t be afraid to ask for a good sized budget to allow you to tell the best story possible.  Of course you should only align with brands who share your values but when there’s a good synergy it can be the catalyst for powerful storytelling.  

Use video on landing pages

Using video on all of your pages that customers interact with will also help them to pop up in the SERPS because video is great for SEO. 

Video attracts users to stay on your platform for longer, helping to drive up your conversion rate by up to 80% (Invisia Technologies). So presenting high-quality video content on your website is an easy way to keep potential customers engaging with your brand, learning about your products and helping to encourage sales.

SEO optimisation for video is just as important as any other content marketing, so you need to make sure that your video title, description and tags are optimised for your preferred search queries.

Sites like YouTube read closed captions (CC) to better understand the context of your video and help your SEO ranking. So if you can, it’s great to go in and update these automated captions manually to make sure it accurately transcribes your script. 

More and more social media users watch videos with no sound too, so this is a key reason to ensure that your videos have subtitles so you are not missing out on communicating your message.

How can I work with a digital agency to support my charity’s growth?

If you don’t have the time, resource or expertise to grow your charity’s digital activity, getting support from an agency can help you overcome the growth challenges your charity is facing.

Whatever your situation, you know you want to find an agency that understands your charity, your supporter’s needs, and your particular individual cause.

You should have shared values, beliefs, and common goals. Even if you contract an agency for a short amount of time, go into the partnership with a long-term vision in mind because it will better help you in working out if the agency is the right fit for you.

To have worked with another charity in the same area doesn’t make an agency qualified to work with your charity. What makes them qualified is if they have a track record of helping businesses overcome problems and challenges. Asking for case studies or references from similar charities they have worked with will help determine if they’re the right fit for you.

Overall, what you really need to know is, is the agency you’re talking to capable of getting you the results you need? An agency can have experience in the nonprofit sector but what’s their track record? Are they meeting those clients’ objectives?

Google Grants offers charities and nonprofits $10,000 per month in in-kind advertising to promote their mission and grow their nonprofit on Google search result pages.

The Google Grants program brings you the power of AdWords to create a custom marketing strategy to help your non-profit achieve its goals. Through Google Grants, you can expand your reach online, gain greater visibility, and recruit volunteers for no additional cost.

Want to apply for the Google Grant programme? Go to google.com/grants for details.

Already got the Google Grant for your charity? Here are our top tips to get the most out of your Google Ads.

  1. Don’t focus on donations at first: No one is searching for a charity to support financially. Even if someone visits your website via a Google ad, they won’t immediately hit the “donate” button. People usually go online to learn more about an issue or a cause. If you can capture the attention of those people with your nonprofit’s ad, in time you can turn them into donors.
  2. Aim to gain supporters first: Though few people will be willing to donate to a nonprofit the first time they visit its website. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask them for anything. Ask visitors to sign up for your nonprofit’s email newsletter, to “like” your group’s Facebook page, to follow your charity’s Twitter handle or some other low-barrier activity. After building a relationship with these potential supporters through those channels, it will be much easier to ask for donations. The likelihood of them giving at that point is much higher.
  3. Keywords are where you should focus: Relevancy is how well your website matches a website visitor’s expectations. For example, if someone searches for “nonprofits” they are most likely looking for the definition of the word, the history of nonprofits or possibly a directory listing of nonprofit groups. They aren’t looking for your organisation. The same can be said of other generic words like “give,” “donate” and “volunteer.” Don’t waste your time and Google Ad Grant dollars going after generic nonprofit keywords. Be precise when choosing keywords.
  4. Keep your charity’s goals at the centre: What are the goals for your charity? Before launching your nonprofit’s first ad on Google, examine all the goals for your nonprofit’s website and make any necessary changes. The goals could be to: Grow your nonprofit’s email list; Encourage people to download a fact sheet; Inspire people fill out an online form or petition; Generate more online donations.

The best charities and nonprofits know exactly how much every contact is worth to them. One simple method is to track the number of email addresses your charity receives over a period of time, the number of donations it receives online and the average size of these donations. Tracking these numbers will help you determine just how much Google Ads have helped your charity.

Pick the right story to tell

For charity marketing, it’s all about focusing on three core principles:

  • Show real people
  • Tell real stories 
  • Show emotional impact

Compelling marketing is moving away from cliched, staged or overly dramatic images and messages but focusing on creating authentic emotional responses. 

Let’s take climate change as an example, who are moving away from melting ice caps to telling true stories about people who are affected on a day-to-day basis by global warming.  

Seeing how a child is struggling to breath due to poor air quality is going to have far greater emotional impact than facts and stats. It’s all about telling human-interest stories to bring important issues to the fore.

The more your video content can be visual representations of identifiable emotions, the stronger your message will be communicated. 

an illustration of a man at a computer coming up with a story

Charity Videos Conclusion: get the best ROI from video content

If you are looking to get the best ROI from video content, producing video content along the audience journey could provide meaningful opportunities for your charity to engage with your donors at key touch points. This will lead to increased donations and will help to build a sense of community around your charity. High quality communications lead to good interactions and donors will feel valued as they view content tailored specifically to them.

Leave a Comment