Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

How can charities use video to engage different stakeholders?

How can charities use video to engage different stakeholders?

User experience (UX) is a big deal in online fundraising, with campaigns often having to convey a lot of information to multiple demographics. Following the principles of media richness theory can be very successful, as delivering content through a combination of text, images, sound and interactivity will only serve to improve UX.

Creating good content ticks all the boxes, so producing a charity film that delivers the right message can become a key part of your strategy, whatever objective you have in mind. Let’s consider a few examples of how videos can engage different stakeholders:

Objective 1 – Informing service users


Together for Short Lives could have presented themselves directly, covering points expressed on their homepage and introducing their work from their own point of view. This would have been informative, but perhaps not very engaging; it would have been about the charity, not necessarily about its service users – and those are the people for whom this content was intended.

Instead, the video uses real-life stories, demonstrating how a service user found their way to the cause, and exactly how the charity was able to help them. This narrative allows the potential service user watching to project themselves into it; it also lends a feeling of authenticity, with the video coming across as a user testimonial rather than a corporate promotion. The approach worked, and the video has been recognised multiple times, most recently at the 2015 Media Innovation Awards.

Objective 2 – Influencing and sparking debate


The International Union for Conservation of Nature had a specific aim for its video: it was designed to sway the discourse at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Paris last year. The video had to convince global-level decision makers that there were serious environmental problems (or to reinforce their existing opinion that this was the case, and provide simple evidence for them to use in convincing others). It also had to posit the nature-based solutions which IUCN advocates, and make a convincing case for them.

The complex issues involved in this debate are represented here with stark, imposing visuals, which explicitly refocus the debate away from the global environment and into intimate, realistic mini-narratives. These are easier to understand than grand-scale arguments and abstract scientific statements, since they demonstrate problems and solutions on an individual, human level. The video fits its target audience into the narrative that it presents, thus guiding them toward the desired action.

Objective 3 – Fundraising

Straight-out asking people for money seldom works – that’s why charity fundraisers tell a story, present a problem, evoke some sympathy, and then ask for money. Even then, the direct approach can sometimes turn people away. Asking potential donors to do something else for a cause, and raise money through activity can often be more engaging. It make supporters feel like they’re part of the process, and not just a wallet on legs.

In this video by One Girl Australia, the opening text directly links a social problem with the desired action – there’s no mention of money or transaction, just ‘do this to do that’. This link is directly restated before anyone speaks, and even then, the vox pop interviewees are all agreeing to carry out the action: to do something while wearing a dress. This repetition, through image and sound and displayed text, emphasises the outcome rather than the problem or the sacrifice. The examples shown are all fun – lighthearted discussions, sponsored activities – creating the positive emotional resonance that’s vital to good video marketing.

Social video is said to achieve 1200% more shares than text and images alone, so integrating video content into online marketing efforts has become increasingly key to success.


John Mowat

Jon Mowat is a former BBC documentary filmmaker, and he’s now the Managing Director of video production company Hurricane Media, who have won multiple awards for their charity videos. You can connect with Jon on LinkedIn and follow @HurricaneMedia on Twitter.





Main image: YouTube on mobile – Bloomua on


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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