Ravinol Chambers is here with 4 top tips for producing inspirational charity videos
Video is one of the best ways you can connect people emotionally with the impact of your work. To be able to capture the essence of what you do, why you do it and the difference people’s support can make in a visceral, emotive way - that you can then share at scale - is priceless.
With the rise in content marketing and the need to produce regular content to keep audiences engaged, charities like businesses need to produce video content on a regular basis. We call these ‘relationship videos.’
Unlike ‘showcase videos’, which historically have been used by large charities to highlight their major fundraising programmes, relationship videos need not be high production value, high-budget affairs. What they do need is to build a relationship and a bond between the viewer and your organisation.
To achieve this, here are 4 top tips on strategy, storytelling and technique. These will be useful to anyone new to filmmaking (and a good refresher for those who have done it before).
1. Decide on your strategy
When making a video, it’s important to go in with a clear strategy. So, the first step before any filming takes place, is to make sure you know what you want to achieve, and plan everything really well. Being super clear on your objective will help ensure the resources you invest (time or money or both) are utilised as effectively as possible, and that every step thereafter is efficient in achieving the objectives for the video.
Before you start shooting, you should know:
who your video is aimed at (existing donors? new supporters?)
what you want to achieve with the video (what is its purpose?)
how you want your viewers to feel after watching (inspired? informed?)
what action you want viewers to take after watching the video
how the video fits into your overall marketing or fundraising strategy (is it a showcase video, a case study, or part of a series?)
While you should be clear on your objectives, you should also allow some flexibility in your approach, so that whoever is creating your video has room to pick up on anything that supports or enhances that vision when on location.
2. Build your narrative
A video should educate, engage and inspire. We think the best way to achieve this is to tell a story.
While interviews are a great way to build up your narrative and tell your story, try as much as possible to film footage of your work in action, which you can cut with the audio from the interview.
This serves two purposes:
First, it breaks up the interview footage and makes it much more visually interesting and engaging for supporters.
Secondly, it brings your work to life and allows you to ‘show’ the impact of your work visually, meaning you don’t have to explain everything in words.
You can see an example of effective use of cutaways here.
It is also really important to get the voices of the end users or recipients in your videos - so avoid any temptation to tell their story for them. Allowing your beneficiaries’ own voices to come through not only makes the video feel more authentic, but is also far more likely to create an emotional connection with your audience.
Here are some examples of videos that illustrate this point.
3. Know the technical basics
If you are not trained in filmmaking, you will need to be aware of some of the basic technical elements that will help you capture great footage. The main ones are lighting, sound and composition.
Make sure your subject is well lit. Use natural light wherever possible - it often creates a more authentic feel. Natural light is also a good choice for those who who can’t afford to buy and lug around expensive lights.
Wherever possible (ideally always), use an external microphone and make sure it is positioned close to your subject’s mouth to get good clear sound. Learn to be aware of and avoid background noises that might not be obvious at first but will show up when you listen back. These are typically air conditioning, server racks, fridges, loud vehicles driving past, doors banging in adjoining rooms or people walking with loud shoes.
We have watched so much television over the years that we have unwittingly become fluent in a visual language. If the rules are broken, we know something looks wrong even if we can’t put our finger on it. When filming interviews, the number one golden rule that will ensure your subject is positioned correctly is the rule of thirds.
4. Don’t forget to include your call to action
If you would like your viewers to do something as a result of watching, then having a clear call to action is very important.
Your call to action should already be decided before making your video. Whatever you are asking your viewers to do, make sure the ask is clear, concise and confidently delivered. The call to action can be using text or audio or both; here are some examples.
Ravinol Chambers is Founder of Be Inspired Films, a multi-award winning creative agency. He is also Founder of VideoKnowHow Academy, which trains fundraisers, entrepreneurs and change makers to tell their own stories using video.