Lights, Camera, Donations: Creating a Low-Cost and Effective Fundraising Video

Article, Featured

by Paul Diaz, Vice President Policy, Public Interest Registry

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, is a video worth a thousand dollars or more for your .ORG? According to Indiegogo, that very well may be the case: pitch videos can increase contributions to your cause by 114%. Classy lists these powerful reasons to include video in your fundraising strategy:

  • 90 percent of users find video helpful during the decision process
  • 75 percent of people interact with video ads in any given month
  • 80 percent of people remember a video ad they watched in the last 30 days
  • 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others
  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching videos

Creating a captivating fundraising video will be time well spent for your non-profit. But you may wonder whether you can afford it. Do you need expensive equipment? A professional videographer? Hiring experts can be great, if it’s in the budget, but for many .ORGs there is simply not enough money to make a professional video that raises money. But don’t worry! We’re here to help you create a fundraising video that is both low cost and effective with our 3-S Strategy: Script, Shoot, Share.


You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write a good script for your video. Typically, a script features two columns: suggested visuals (images or video) are noted on the left-hand side, and the audio (voice-over narration or quotes from interview segments) are on the right. As you can see, PIR follows this approach when producing our “learner” animated videos.

Now, about writing. A great way to start is to clearly and succinctly answer the following questions: WHO are you as an organization? WHAT is the problem you’re trying to solve? WHY should someone donate to your organization? You’ll want to make an emotional connection, whether it’s through a compelling voice-over about your mission, an interview with someone you’ve helped, or video of volunteers working. Remember to always end with a call to action, so viewers know how to support your work! Here’s a how-to guide from Socialbrite for effective ways to drive engagement from a video message.


As we said, you don’t need to be Shakespeare to draft a strong script. You also don’t need to be Martin Scorsese to shoot a video! Many already own the most useful production equipment—a smartphone. “People tend to focus too much on the camera during the shoot. Never forget that we all have access to amazing cameras, right in our pockets (which you can definitely use),” says Classy blogger Will Schmidt. 

Using your phone will give the video a natural, authentic, “viral video” feel. If you want a more sophisticated look, here is a list of basic equipment that won’t break the bank. Or, you can go the professional route and explore ways to finance the project. Giving Tree Associates suggests that non-profits, “Look for opportunities to apply for a grant or ask vendors for sponsorships to cover the cost or a portion of the cost to create the video.” If you’re interested in creating an animated video, it may be necessary to seek out the help of a professional, as animated videos require expertise and tools that many non-profits do not have in-house.  Remember if you are going to include volunteers or a message from a recipient of your organization’s services be sure to get their permission and appropriate consent before sharing the video.


You did it; you’ve made the video. Now share it! The good news is you don’t have to be an Instagram influencer to generate awareness for your video online! The first step is uploading it. Julia C. Campbell, digital marketing strategist and guest author for Classy, advises non-profits to “Make sure to upload your video natively into the platform of your choice [for example, YouTube or Facebook]. This way, it will automatically play as people land on it while scrolling through their feeds, grabbing their attention. Lots of views can lead to increased reach, engagement, and exposure for your non-profit.”

Share your video on the social media channels that you use, and encourage viewers to comment on and share the video to raise visibility. “An effective strategy to engage followers is to encourage them to tag other people who may benefit from or enjoy a specific post,” says Campbell. “If you share a video about Mother’s Day, encourage your online community to tag a friend or friends who mean a lot to them and with whom they would like to share your message. Hopefully these new people will be drawn into the fold and join your online social media followers.”

Creating a video for your non-profit is a key aspect of any successful fundraising effort. It also can be inspiring and fun. Why not put on your movie director’s hat and make videos that can raise awareness and funds for your organization at the same time? Remember to script, shoot, and share and you won’t go wrong!