7 ways to create videos that inspire donors

7 ways to create videos that inspire donors

steve maud pic.jpg

Find a good story and tell it as truthfully as you can - Steve Maud has been creating films for charitable organisations, including Comic Relief, for years. He shares his top tips for finding and using stories that will capture donors' attentions. 

Stories are everywhere - the challenge is finding them. Here are my top tips for capturing the stories that illustrate your cause and tap into people’s emotions.


Keep it simple and honest

The simplest stories are always the best. Sometimes the simplest crazy fact - like how the lack of a strong enough lightbulb in a household is making the children go blind - can elucidate the desperation of a much wider situation. That said, you can't superimpose the story you want to tell on the reality of a situation - people can sniff out a manipulated story, and it quickly loses veracity. So find a good story (rarely the first one you're offered) and tell it as truthfully and simply as you can.


Choose your medium

You can move people to tears with an iPhone-filmed movie, an audio interview, or even simply a photo. The secret is to be adept enough with your chosen medium that it doesn't get in the way of what's happening before you. Capturing the moment (which often can't be repeated) in all it's emotion is key. This applies however you decide to distribute your story on your return; a tweet with couple of relevant stills might reach far more people than a beautifully crafted film that has no distributor.


If in doubt, film it all

If you're not yet sure which end-product format you are going to use to tell the story, I would suggest that it’s best to film everything - then you can take from your footage whatever content you need - still shots, audio, transcripts, etc.

Remember: when capturing stories on film, it’s essential that you have good sound - even more so than obtaining good quality visuals. Without good sound, you risk missing crucial words and phrases, and turning off your audience with poor-quality, jarring audio.


Capture emotions while they are fresh

It’s important to spend time with your contributor and get to know them a bit without cameras/dictaphones around - but don't let them start telling their sorry until you’re ready to record it. I’ve found that if you’re trying to capture a story that’s already been told, the contributors will be a bit too polished to still be living the emotion of where they've come from.



When you’re ready get your interview set up somewhere nice and undisturbed, push record - and then listen, listen, listen. Remember that wherever they are from, and whatever their circumstances, your contributors are human beings with all the same concerns and passions and loves that you have for your best friend. Your beneficiaries might live in abject poverty, they may have lost everything - but people have an amazing power to survive and remain dignified, and it's that triumph and resolve that moves people.


Ask questions

Ask follow-up, open questions - how does it make you feel when...? What are your fears for your child...? What was the happiest moment...? What are your hopes for the future...? This will ensure you capture every aspect of how the problem or situation has affected them and their loved ones, giving you plenty of material to choose from when deciding how to put across the story in the most emotive way, while keeping the truth of the story at its core.


Move people to action

Be clear on the call to action from the start, but always tell people what to do when they've watched the film (if that’s your end production format) - where to get more info, where to sign up, how to follow on Twitter etc... But this really needs to be part of a marketing campaign that has been devised well before you go out on your shoot, or no one will get to see your film!

Steve Maud is a multi-skilled filmmaker and the director of Cloud Nine Media  Twitter: @C9MLtd 

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