A picture can tell a thousand words but a video can connect your supporters with your cause, faster and on a much deeper emotional level. Stronger feelings = more donations.
At The Saltways we believe that all charities, no matter what the size or budget can make effective films part of their fundraising campaigns.
That’s why when we get requests like this one from the charity Hear Me Out: “We need a compelling fundraising film that is authentic, original and raises money. Oh, and we have a tiny budget and a two-week deadline”– we know we can help. Is it an impossible ask? No way!
So if you find yourself facing the challenge of creating a film with real impact, but only have a small budget to play with here are our tips for how to get started:
Spend time planning
I am always amazed at how many fundraisers launch campaigns without even speaking to their current donors. Why waste your time trying to guess why people give to you, without asking the very people who are already your biggest fans?
We spoke to five supporters of Hear Me Out during our work with them, and asked them: “Why do you love this charity?” and the most consistent answer was, “because music brings hope.” This formed the basis of the campaign and film.
We asked the team at Hear Me Out to find someone who they had helped, that could tell a story linked to music and hope to tap into the insights we had about why people give and inspire others to donate too. The result? They found the person who would become the star of their film, Pilo. He was passionate about telling his story, loved music and had spoken to the team before about the hope it had given him.
If you are unsure whose story to tell, make sure to consider potential storytellers from the whole spectrum of your charity as you will usually find that many people will have chosen to support your cause because of their own personal experiences. Be aware of any safeguarding issues and make sure that you are clear with the storyteller where the film will be shown and offer them support throughout.
Top tip: If you are unsure of whether your messaging will work or have a couple of options, test it on social media or with a mini focus group made up of supporters.
Get creative with how you shoot
To save money during the Hear Me Out project we asked Pilo to film himself on his phone. We coached him via Zoom on how to position his phone, the lighting, angles and how to answer questions.
All of the questions that we asked Pilo were built around the messaging of music and hope. “What does music mean to you?”, “why did you need hope?”, “what brought you hope?”. We asked Pilo to film from various angles and to send us pictures and videos that would bring the film to life.
We didn’t put any limit on the amount of footage, and gave feedback after each lot of films was sent over. We let Pilo tell his story – his full, authentic story around the message of hope.
Anna Zabow, Communications Manager at Hear Me Out says: “The story is shared in an empowering and sensitive way – Pilo tells his own story in his own words and it’s further brought to life with images taken at the different points in his life that he mentions. We hope to be able to share more stories like Pilo’s in this same video format.”
The same approach applies to shooting in person – build the shoot around the messaging. Ask questions that are linked to the message and film in a location that feels relevant to it. Not only will you have a more authentic film, but you will be able to connect with the audience quicker by building the story for them in a richer way.
Because the footage and story are relevant to the messaging, the editing will be faster, more efficient and subsequently cheaper. You will have a more impactful, unique, and true film that will bring your campaign to life on a budget!
With Pilo’s story, it took around a week of back and forth to get the right footage and stills. The edit took around three days and the finished film is brilliant. The film has reached over 60,000 people and recruited 20 new monthly donors in the first few months of being launched. It has been shared widely on social media and continues to be a valuable asset for the charity.
Make sure you are getting your film out there
When using films for fundraising it is important to remember not just to have your film, but to make sure you are building your campaign around it. Really bring the story to life and connect with your supporters with that same story at every opportunity.
Take stills from your film and/or ask your production company to take some pictures whilst they are on the shoot. A top budget friendly tip is to ask the production company to shoot in 4k so that you can pull high-quality stills from the footage. Add them to all of your donor communications (email signatures, newsletters, social media posts etc).
Quote the words of the storyteller on social media and in your appeal email. Draw your supporters in with a teaser, and encourage them to watch the rest of the story. Don’t forget to include your ask at every possible opportunity. Tom Ahern is great for tips on how best to do this.
Finally, don’t forget the thank you; if it’s appropriate, ask your storyteller to record a message to thank your donors. Why not include a regular giving ask at the same time?! Pilo was more than happy to record this.
Every charity can make an effective fundraising film, no matter what your budget. Have patience, dedication to the messaging, and connect your supporters with the story at every opportunity.
Go forth and conquer, fundraisers!
If you would like even more tips check out our other blogs and Filmkit guide:
- FilmKit for charities
- Tips and resources for creating film remotely for less
- The benefits of creating a charity film series and five top tips
Banner Image: Christopher Paul High on Unsplash