TLDR: Go BIGGER! (By Going Smaller)
Since March of ’20 the pandemic has forced most fundraisers online. Some of these new virtual fundraisers have been livestreams, and some have been pre-recorded versions of galas presented as livestreams. Bravo! Bravo to every organization that pivoted fast in the face of an unexpected and devastating global event and turned their traditional IRL fundraisers into videos instead.
As the winter fundraising season approaches, pending delta variant developments, some organizations will be reverting to their traditional IRL fundraisers. Others, inspired by the national audiences they were able to attract when they took their fundraisers “live” online, will be experimenting with hybrid events. GREAT. But still others will be repeating their pre-recorded video events from last year.
Before you plan your video ceremony, before you hire your event planner, copywriter, and editors, take a moment. We are more than a year into this new normal and you no longer need to pivot your gala at a moment’s notice. Take the time to truly define your virtual fundraiser strategy so that you can create the virtual fundraiser that will fulfill your fundraising goals in the most impactful way.
What are your fundraising goals?
- To raise money via ticket sales and sponsorships? → keep reading
- To raise money via ticket sales and sponsorships and also to raise awareness? → keep reading
- All of the above, and also raise money during the event, deepen relationships with your current donors, and expand your community→ stop reading this and read THIS instead.
So, if you haven’t clicked away, we have established that you have two main goals for your organization’s virtual fundraiser:
- raise money via ticket sales and sponsorships
- raise awareness for your organization
In this case,YES, a pre-recorded video will meet those goals for you.
BUT…you can make this year’s pre-recorded virtual fundraiser so much more impactful.
Go BIGGER by going SMALLER.
What do we mean? Let’s start with the STATS.
The average video view on Facebook is 18 seconds. The average video view on YouTube hovers between 30 seconds and 4 minutes. The average video view on Zoom…well it’s impossible to know, but our polls suggest that 85% of viewers have clicked away from a zoom room more than two times within the first 15 minutes of a Zoom program. So what does that mean for the hour long pre-recorded video fundraiser that you spent so much time, money and institutional resources on? Your video is not being watched. Or at least, very little of it is being watched. Yes, some of your most passionate supporters may watch, once (although they are probably multi-tasking at the same time). Maybe some of their friends will watch for a minute or two, but after all your planning, your storyboarding, your editing sessions and vendor payments— it turns out that your ROI on your expensive, thoughtful gala video is viewership from your most passionate supporters…and no one else.
..after all your planning, your storyboarding, your editing sessions and vendor payments — it turns out that your ROI on your expensive, thoughtful gala video is viewership from your most passionate supporters…and no one else.
To be super clear, it’s not that pre-recorded galas don’t work at all. Pre-recorded video ‘Livestreams” can be a great way to raise funds via ticket sales and sponsorships. If those are your two goals, those are great goals and a pre-recorded gala is perfect for your organization.
But what if you want the actual video itself to work for you? How do you wring as much IMPACT out of your virtual video fundraiser as possible? Make a video, but make the kind of video that thrives on digital platforms. Make a SHORT form video. Can you imagine if the same resources you have budgeted on script writers and editors and project managers and motion graphic designers were pivoted into a social platform appropriate short film video? What an epic, sharable video you would create!
Make a video, but make the kind of video that thrives on digital platforms. Make a SHORT form video.
Now that you have created an asset that conforms to the behavior of an online audience, you will see a different outcome.Your video will be WATCHED. And more importantly it will be SHARED. Your video’s reach potential will far exceed your mailing list and travel instead deep into the social graph, garnering more awareness, new subscribers and new donors.
Don’t worry. You can still sell “tickets’ and sponsorships to the videos premiere, and you can promise those sponsors a far greater reach than your pre-recorded gala could have guaranteed.
A great example of this is of course the famous Charity Water: The Spring. It’s a beautiful video and it’s raised millions of dollars — but I caution you. It’s 20 minutes long and very, very few organizations have the budget to pull off a 20 minute video that people will actually watch.
Instead use their great example to create an excellent 3 minute video that tells one beautiful, emotional story. Emotions drive actions — and the emotions that your gorgeous, short form, digital platform appropriate video will tell, will drive people to DONATE and to SHARE; increasing your fundraising, expanding awareness of your cause, and growing your passionate community.
…the emotions that your gorgeous, short form, digital platform appropriate video will tell, will drive people to DONATE and to SHARE; increasing your fundraising, expanding awareness of your cause, and growing your passionate community.
So now you have it. You can get so much more bang for your charity fundraiser buck by creating media that is native to the platforms you are premiering them on. You will use your resources with so much more effectiveness and you will have a final product that you, your team, your old supporters and your new supporters can visit and share again, and again and again.
This virtual fundraising season go BIGGER by going SMALLER.