In today’s digital world, nonprofits and charities can’t underestimate the importance of nonprofit videos and visual storytelling as a key fundraising tool.
80% of the highest-grossing campaigns on CauseVox have used video as part of their online fundraising campaign. In fact, 57% of people who watch nonprofit videos go on to make a donation.
Impactful nonprofit videos are one of the most effective tools in your belt for rallying support. You know, the kind of video that highlights one person or a group of people who have had their lives changed because of you. It describes their struggle and how things turned around for them, and offers a clear call to action.
You’ve got one of those, right?
Read our beginner’s guide to learn the basics of nonprofit video storytelling and how to use video to drive donations.
10 Best Nonprofit Videos That Share Impact & Inspire
1. Inspire Your Audience
Back on My Feet is a nonprofit that inspires self-confidence for those experiencing homelessness by engaging them in running as a means to build self-esteem. Following the stories of three men whose lives have been impacted by varying degrees of homelessness, what makes this video so powerful is the personal testimonials that illustrate their incredible transformation, one step at a time.
In addition to their running program, Back on My Feet added an awareness component to their video by taking the opportunity to weave in other programs offered (financial literacy, job training, and financial aid). By doing this, it shows the organization’s holistic approach to homelessness.
As you watch this video, we guarantee you’ll be moved to tears watching the men cross the finish line at their first marathon!
2. Show Your Mission In Action
As an organization providing life-changing outdoor activities for young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions, First Descents’ nonprofit video helps to inspire individuals to “go out there, have fun while you can, and enjoy life”. It’s an action-packed video showing clips that give a great sense of what the organization’s mission, values, and purpose are.
3. Tell A Story
“I was struggling. It felt like I wasn’t smart really. I felt left out.” – Mia
Rise Academy helps students like Mia learn in a way that works for them and excel when they would have been left behind. This nonprofit video focuses on Mia’s educational journey, with those closest to Mia (her mom, teachers, etc.) attesting to her transformative growth. It gives you a real sense of who Mia is and how, with individualized instruction, she’s flourished in her new school.
But wait – Mia’s success story is only one of many. Rise Academy has helped so many students like Mia achieve academic success and the video builds up that none of it would be possible without community support. At the conclusion of the video, Rise Academy issues several calls to action, encouraging the viewer to either share the video, refer a teacher, or make a charitable donation.
4. Motivate Action
Piggybacking off Rise Academy’s video, you may want to focus on a single call to action rather than several, especially if you’re running a targeted campaign for a specific purpose.
Here, Restless Development features Eva Tolage, a 15 year old activist from Malinzanga, Tanzania, who implores the government to provide clean water for her community. The video illustrates the painstaking and time-consuming steps that the village has to take to retrieve clean water every day. It also shows Eva and her classmates writing a letter to their government, to which they’ve received no response.
“But my voice is as important as anyone’s. To my fellow young people, we should rise up and make ourselves heard. I am just one girl but my voice matters.” – Eva
Although Eva is a single voice, the video suggests that change is possible if everyone raises their voices in solidarity. Concluding with a #StandWithEva hashtag, the call to action is simple – add your name to a petition.
While the petition ended in 2017, it looks like the video was a successful catalyst for action, garnering over 150K signatures. Indeed, the ending of the story is a happy one: Eva and her community demanded clean water and now they have it.
5. Celebrate Accomplishments
NYC Salt teaches inner city teenagers how to make a living doing photography and to understand their options in the creative industry. Featuring the founder, teachers, and participants of the program, this video clearly articulates their needs and how to get involved by hitting on the following points:
- What makes their program unique
- The organization’s pillars and values
- The skillsets their staff brings to the table
- How the students have applied what they’ve learned in real life
Watching this video, it’s evident that this program has helped participants with more than just their photography skills – they are learning valuable life skills, all while being instilled with a sense of self-confidence. These teens look so accomplished and confident, it’s impossible not to root for them!
6. Showcase Impact
You can’t talk about inspiring nonprofit impact videos without talking about charity: water. This particular video was made to promote their Charity: Ball event. It’s a simple video that features Desta, a 41 year old woman who talks about how having clean water in her community would lead to less sickness and better health outcomes.
The producers do a great job of showing the dire need for wells and how clean water transforms communities and individual lives. At the end of the video, charity: water cuts to their goal of raising $2M, which can provide clean water to more than 70K people in Ethiopia and Kenya. By tying the dollar amount to impact, this video motivates donors to give by showing them what their donations can achieve.
7. Empower Your Supporters
charity: water isn’t the only group doing exciting work on water. The Global Women’s Water Initiative tackles the problem by empowering women to be at the center of the solution. In terms of nonprofit videos, this one shows how a group of women came together to learn to build latrines and rainwater harvesting tanks to solve persistent water and sanitation problems. Wrapping up this video are highlights of what this initiative has accomplished since August 2011, along with a call to action for the viewer to “join [them] as [they] transform women’s water burdens into opportunities”.
The overall tone and outlook of this video is positive and empowering. See how the womens’ faces shine – you can tell their lives have been transformed.
8. Raise Awareness
Sometimes with nonprofit videos, you may just want to raise awareness. Using text animation and illustrations, The Girl Effect looks to present the problem their organization is trying to address. Their video is purely educational but there’s definitely an underlying sense of urgency. Instead of delving into the programs and services offered, it presents the issue and concludes with a link to the organization’s website, inviting viewers to learn more.
What sets this particular video apart from others on this list is that there are no interviews or voiceovers. Instead, the “she” in this video represents the 50 million 12-year old girls in poverty.
9. Get Creative With Your Approach
Speaking of raising awareness, this video by Rainforest Alliance does just that, except it also uses a super creative approach. Following the journey of a man who goes on a quest to save the rainforest on his own, the whole thing feels like an educational short film with a storyline that grows increasingly more ridiculous (and funny) by the second.
There’s a lot packed into this high-paced 3 minute video but the real message is at the end. While we’re not going to be doing any of the things the character in the video is doing, the video offers a much more reasonable way for the viewer to get involved – to “follow the frog” and buy Rainforest Alliance Certified products.
10. Use Humor
With the many filming locations and extras featured in Rainforest Alliance’s video, we can assume high production costs, which may not be feasible for many nonprofits. Even if your budget is small, you can still get creative and infuse humor to connect with your viewer. For instance, take this video by Mama Hope which stars African men who don’t take themselves too seriously. Spliced with movie clips, this video breaks down the damaging stereotypes and portrayals of African men – by poking fun at them.
The video then switches to depict who these featured men really are (and they’re definitely more than just a stereotype) and adds an incentivized call to action for the viewer – if they share the video and donate, they get to see the blooper reel. It’s a simple video but it’s still hilarious!
9 Key Takeaways
To recap, we want to highlight nine key takeaways pulled from the nonprofit videos in this article:
1. Set A Goal
What are you trying to accomplish with your video? Are you raising funds for a particular project? Are you trying to promote and raise awareness for your nonprofit? Setting a goal will help determine the overall message of your video. After you have that set, decide what metrics you can track to ensure that you’ve met your goal.
2. Script It Out
Before you start shooting your video, you should put pen to paper and script out your ideas. The ideas you have in your head can translate very differently on screen and it’s good to be prepared. We recommend getting a second (or third) pair of eyes on your script before you start shooting.
3. Choose The Right Music
As you’ve probably noticed, each video featured on this list has music. Depending on the impression you’re trying to make, choosing the right music helps set the mood and tone.
4. Share Compelling Stories
Show, don’t tell your viewers with a compelling story. Providing testimonials and interviews that illustrate journeys from trial to triumph allows your viewers to put a face to your cause, making it much more personal and relatable.
5. Include A Call To Action
Whatever you want your viewer to do – whether it’s to donate, learn more, sign a petition, or volunteer – make sure it’s clear.
6. Mind The Length
You’re not making a movie and you certainly don’t want to lose your viewer along the way. It’s definitely an art but try to keep the length of your video short (under 3-5 minutes) while making sure your message still comes across.
7. Set A Budget
You want the finished product to look professional but we get that you may not have it in your budget to have the whole video professionally shot. If that’s the case, decide what you can do in-house and what you want to hire out.
8. Keep It Simple
It’s also entirely possible to produce a high-quality video on your own but we recommend not getting too ambitious and coming out with a sloppy product. In other words, keep it simple!
9. Share Your Video
Once you’ve finished editing your video, it’s time to put it out to the world! Blast it out on social media, include it on newsletters, or feature it on your website. Remember, you can have the coolest, most compelling nonprofit video out there but it’s not going to matter if no one sees it.
Making quality videos isn’t easy – it involves work, commitment, and money to put it all together. But the results can be powerful and more than worth the effort.
What are your favorite nonprofit videos? Share in the comments!
This post was originally published in February 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness in 2022.