MMA Root

Nonprofit Videos



I’m not a video expert, nor do I play one on TV. I am a non-profit staff member who produces, edits and posts videos to further the mission of our organization. I am an amateur, not a professional, at video. So my approach to video is useful, way to the end. And I am learning.

This piece is a product of that learning, sort of paying it on because other people have helped me.

Videos are important. Viewers view an average of 32.2 videos a month, and approximately 100 million Internet users watch online video every day. More importantly, the Association of Online Publishers states that 80% of Internet users remember viewing a video ad on a website they have visited in the last 30 days. Of those 80%, 46% took action after seeing the ad. In addition, about 64% of website visitors are more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video.

According to research by Visible Measures, 20% of viewers click in 10 seconds or less. You lose about 33% of viewers in about 30 seconds, 45% in 1 minute, and almost 60% in 2 minutes.

While these statistics refer to retail and general usage, it goes without saying that nonprofit organizations can benefit enormously from the increased, planned and deliberate use of guided video.

Here are a few principles for people, including many executives of non-profit organizations, who are new or relatively small about “video making”:

 Make a plan on how many videos you want, what topics, how long they fit and fit your social media or website where you plan to post them. Don’t just wing it. Think systematically about what you need and what outcome you hope to achieve.

 Don’t forget that you can post longer videos and people will see what they want. Probably not. They will not watch until they get the message you want to do or they will not watch at all.

 Don’t be in love with your own voice. The sharpness is beautiful. It is necessary about 2 minutes. 30 seconds is better, 15 seconds is even better, and if it looks like a TV ad, it’s only 6 seconds.

 Video shorts can be specially produced, or you can create them from clips of your longer videos.

 Do not worry about identifying yourself or the website. There is not enough time in the video to talk about this. You can easily add name, title, website, other contact information during editing via banners and insert or by sliding 1-2 seconds.

 If you need to make longer videos – and there is still room for 2 minute videos, or even 6 to 12 minute videos for a particular presentation – write your text ahead of time, upload it to the teleprompter app ( there are several available), and use the scrolling text like a politician speaking at a campaign stop to create your new video.

 If you are using a mobile device to make video, learn where the camera is on your phone or tablet, then look at the camera during short shoots or add your scrolling text so you can look at the camera. This allows you to “look into the eyes of the audience.”

 If alone, use tripods and, if possible, remote. If there is no remote, no problem, start your video, step into the frame, smile a second, and go. You can edit the front end later.

 I mention smiling. If you’re a natural person, fine, but when I’m thinking or stressed, like making a video, I can be deliberately tough. So I learned to laugh big, even if it felt fake at first, at first. My challenge now is to remember to keep smiling. It makes a difference in your video, as long as the topic suits the laugh.

 Be creative: indoors, outdoors, with one of your children or pets, formal or informal, depends on the subject and the audience.

 Short videos relate to one topic or idea. Don’t try to say everything that has to be said about your product or service. You can make more videos later. Go in, say something pithy or poignant or pungent, and go out.

 Remember lighting. You can look like an amateur or pro faster with poor lighting or good lighting, respectively, than about anything else you do. Most importantly, you need good front lighting, then if possible, adequate side lighting, and most challenging of all if you are not in a studio, some overhead lighting.

 If you want excellent marketing videos, hire an excellent professional and pay human freight. There is nothing wrong with this. But when we live online these days, especially among young people, what interests us is “authenticity” and “timeliness.” That is to say, don’t be afraid to make a walking video, a video on the street, of the spot at your service location with a bit of natural noise in the background. Be true. Be authentic. Express the reality as you see it, which may actually be the opposite of “slick” marketing promos.

 Don’t be afraid, really, to make a plan, and to do as much as is necessary to get the desire and the message you need. Check your video after each take. Watch out, search for forgotten things like that little bit in the background or poor lighting or no smile, or your collar is on the leg … etc. You don’t get great videos by accident. Work the process.

 You don’t have to spend a lot of money or hire professionals to do basic editing. It’s amazing, with a little learning and practice curve, what you can do on mobile devices or in apps like iMovie.

 The big video is now on Twitter where people tend to “discover” rather than “search” a video.

Spend some time on your favorite social media platforms. Research others, especially competitors. Don’t plagiarize but learn from them. What works and why? A lot of time is spent researching. It’s like Abraham Lincoln saying, “Give me an hour to cut down a tree and I’ll have the first four sharpening my ax.”

Video is here to stay. The more you learn to use it the more effective you will be in getting your message across.

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