Using Video to Enhance Your Storytelling & Attract Funders

by The Vella Group

Published On: October 12, 2023Categories: Insights, Marketing

When billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced a $250 million open call for grant applications earlier this year, her foundation required each of the 6,300+ applicants to submit a 90-second video about their organization. It didn’t have to be fancy. It just needed to briefly explain the organization’s community, the obstacles that community faces and how the organization’s approach will make a difference.

Given Scott’s high profile in the philanthropy space, other foundations will likely follow suit if they don’t already include video in their application process. After all, it’s a concise and engaging way for nonprofits to tell their story.

The Engaging Power of Video Content

Video allows you to connect emotionally with funders and individual donors in ways you can’t through the written word. When viewers see and hear engaging personal stories, it resonates. They’re more likely to picture themselves in the shoes of those in need – and that’s powerful. Done well, video lends authenticity and credibility to your organization’s mission.

On the practical side, video is easy to share and easy to repurpose for a variety of uses: social media, website, galas and more. And research points to its effectiveness at generating awareness and engagement, particularly on social media.

In 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people use social media across the world, each spending time across multiple platforms. The most engaging type of content? Short-form videos, according to a recent study by SproutSocial. In the study, 66% of consumers favored short-form videos, those typically less than a minute in length, and 34% of consumers appreciated their more genuine nature.

A 2023 HubSpot video marketing report showed people are 52% more likely to share video content than any other type. And, a recent study from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University showed that donors are 43% more likely to take action after viewing a video.

Simply put, video is fast becoming a necessary marketing tool as nonprofits seek to attract funding from foundations and individual donors. Here are some thoughts on how to maximize its effectiveness.

Tips for Effective, Compelling Video Content

Stay Focused

Every video should start with a clear objective. Are you looking to generate increased awareness? Are you approaching funders about a specific capital campaign? Focus your messaging on your objective and keep the final product short. In general, a video shown at a fundraising gala or embedded on a website should run about 3 minutes tops. If you’re using video for social media campaigns, stick with 60 seconds or less. No matter how you use the video content, be sure to include a clear call to action at the end, such as “find out more,” “donate today,” or “sign up to volunteer.”

Build an Emotional Connection

The key here is to feature personal stories from people who are connected to your organization’s mission. It’s the volunteer who passionately donates her time and talent, a family that has received life-changing care or even a high-profile influencer who is connected to your cause. No doubt, statistics that illustrate your organization’s impact play an important role in setting the stage, but it’s the personal stories that are most memorable. They connect people to your cause emotionally because they come from the heart.

Get Your Money’s Worth

As you consider your objective, set up a strategy for all the ways you can leverage your video content to communicate your message. Video content and b-roll footage can be edited and repurposed for a variety of channels – website, social media, advertising, events, presentations, grant applications – giving you more bang for your buck.

Also, keep in mind that different channels call for different quality and budgeting. You can self-record decent short-form videos for social media by following basic guidelines for camera positioning and lighting. For special fundraising events and presentations, however, a more polished, professionally produced video is probably in order.

Find Out More

Here are a few examples of our video work below. To learn more about our video production capabilities, contact

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