Non-profit organizations can have the most appealing visuals, yet they often fail to realize this.

Often, these organizations don’t consider that creating videos is an absolute necessity for their prospects or funding agencies. They hardly put any serious effort into making films on their programs.

Be it a short film for documentation of an ongoing program, a testimonial on a case study, or an explainer video on the type of service the organization renders, your marketing campaign might fall flat if you aren’t still considering making videos.

Many non-profit organizations, small to medium, hesitate to plan for making videos. Either they think of it as too much of an expense or just don’t ponder over its making. The actual scenario is quite different.

In this article, I will explain different aspects of video marketing, especially for non-profit organizations. They could consider leveraging the market potential in the coming days.

Going through this post, you will get to know

With the advent of technology and low-cost gears, anyone can shoot videos these days. And these can be prepared much faster than they used to be.


But before delving deeper into many shades of video making, let’s see what the big shots are talking about the potential of video marketing in the coming days.


What are the potentials of video marketing?


The pandemic has done one thing for sure. It has made people with restricted movement spend more hours over their mobile consuming online content. That’s nothing sort of a denser marketplace full of opportunities a marketer can ignore.


Hubspot has released the results of their video marketing survey in 2015 at wyzowl. And they are doing that every year since then.


The pandemic has changed the online game of content creation and promotion worldwide. Consumption of audio-visual content has gone many-fold up among the consumers in this period. It has made digital marketing agencies and corporations chase and cash in on content marketing to increase their sale. 


86% of the business use videos as a marketing tool. Although marginally up from 85% in 2019, it’s almost a sea change since 2016, when it was 61%. It shows a 41% increase in the number of businesses that use online videos for their marketing. 87% of video marketers said they had a positive ROI from their videos, while 69% of non-video marketers expressed their interest in using video as a marketing tool in 2020.


Now you think of the possibilities of video documentation of your ongoing program. One way is to do the documentation, which may itself be a program component. Another way is to create many short ones and flood your social media channels for inbound leads.

The possibilities are endless!


We will come to the inbound marketing later. But for those who are still not accustomed to the term, inbound marketing is a technique where you consistently create quality content for the prospects or audience. Attracted by your content and an interested buyer comes forward and makes a query. You don’t actively call the consumers. But lure them with regular content promotion.


And here comes the advantage of video documentation of a Non-profit-run-program. You can make short videos with real-time footage, interviews, or an explainer with simple animations to details your service. There are so many styles you may adopt to attract your target audience.

But we will come into that later.

Forbes said, quoting App Annie, a mobile market data and analytics platform, that different social apps like Snapchat, Instagram are gradually fading the lines between social media and the entertainment industry. It reflects how much the consumer space is up for the intense competition!


The pandemic has further fueled the habit of watching videos on mobile. A message through video is always better registered among the consumers. The social media video spend stood at $5.65 billion in 2017. It is likely to reach $14.89 billion in 2021 []. And that’s just about the US consumers.


Oberlo has pointed out a 2018 Animoto report that says 80% of the video marketers are satisfied with their ROI against the campaigns they ran on social media. That means their conversion is high when they use video as a marketing tool on social media.


Now, what does that mean for Non-profits, when it comes to making a video for effective communication with their target audience?


To get into that, we first have to know what a quality and eye-catching video could efficiently communicate with people. 


Why non-profit videos are considered dull and unappealing?


It’s a no-brainer. It mostly lacks fascinating stories.


You have captured your video in an unreal way. Then you cut those visuals to show only the feel-good story with everyone smiling at the last scene.


There are a few reasons that attribute to such unappealing films.


  • Lack of planning
  • Shortage of visual, especially B-Rolls
  • Hardly any story-telling. No central character and build-up
  • Improper length of the film

Under a short and cut-throat budget, you may not hire an agency or a professional filmmaker. That’s okay. But you have to engage people who are meticulous in planning and do have a professional bet of mind. Even if an amateur is engaged as the person in charge, he has to pay attention to every single detail and finish the job under a deadline. Film production is an intense process. The less time it takes the better.


DSLRs are now easily available. They are easy to carry. You could take it anywhere to take some B-roll footage. B-rolls are the generic visuals of nature or people in action that can support the message along with the narrative.


Everyone loves a story. But the commonplace videos often lacks the story. With a story, the structure of a video becomes loosened and viewers leave the webpage within minutes, sometimes within seconds. This increases the bounce rate of the site itself. Building a story around a character, say a program beneficiary, helps attract viewers for a longer period. Mostly the videos doing the rounds lack a coherent style of storytelling with a character at its core.


The length of a video is crucial for its viewership. Videos longer than 6-7 minutes usually fail to get the audience hooked on to it unless you have an established brand or a widely publicized event. There are numerous data available in the public domain about the optimum length of a short film for good viewership.


Gone are the days when Non-profits used to make videos as part of program documentation. But now we are in the era of reasonably priced gears with advanced technology and digital marketing.


If you are still dithering about making a video for your Non-profit organization and then register an imprint, you are possibly wasting your precious time.


What are the challenges before you even start planning – Target audience


It’s crucial to decide for whom you are mainly making the video. A short film capturing a case study or a success story for the funding agency will be different from a short promo meant for social media shares.


You can also think of making several versions of the video during edit and plan a shoot accordingly. It will reduce the production cost but let you have the opportunity of creating multiple editings later.


These days, it’s mandatory, in nearly all programs, to carry out video documentation. Funding agency officials particularly look for a short film that captures the programs previously implemented before the finance are chalked out.


This gives you an ample opportunity to showcase your work and community before them.


On the other hand, you can’t ignore building your brand on social media. Not only do you have to make your presence felt in the network, but you also have to create and upload content regularly to grow your network.


The video must be one strong leg of that content. It will, over some time, create a wider community around your organization in social media. But this requires time and patience.


In the long run, making videos and sharing, screening, sending those videos through email blast pays off dividends.


In any organization, it’s crucial to depute someone for this work. You can also hire someone to do the job. You have to find the right person who could make a comprehensive work plan.


One thing everyone ponders over making a video in any Non-profit organization. That’s money!


If budget is a constraint (it is for many), planning for video production is necessary for the long term.


You may think of relocating money from time to time from other heads to make a video. With the technology and gears available at a cheaper rate, things have become much easy.


Things to know before you start planning.


  • The money you can spend on
  • Who is the audience of your video
  • Do you need several versions of your video
  • What are messages for video or multiple versions of videos

With these in mind, you can start planning for making a video for your organization.

How to plan for making a video? 

There you are!

You have now made up your mind. Also, you have figured out the target audience. Let’s say there are two to three distinct groups. The partnering organizations, the funding agencies and social media traffic.

Videos effectively render messages so long as the audience remains hooked on them. That’s why every pitch must start with a hook. And in the case of videos, you should think of a semi-fictional character to start with. This character will establish a connection, rather than emotional bondage, with your audience.

But what does that have to do with making a plan?

Yes, it does.

When you put it into your buyer persona’s shoes, things will become easier to chart out. Think of it this way. A buyer persona will like to watch out for what have you done for your program beneficiaries and how you have carried out your operation?

It will make planning less troublesome.

Once you shape up the character in your imagination, you have to come up with a story. What exactly you would like to tell your audience through a story. There has to be a compelling storyline. And it has a certain method, a definite build-up. A character followed by a conflict culminates in a resolution.

And this calls for a structure.

Be it a 2-minute promo for social share or a 15-minute documentary, every film has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You will always need a structure that holds your storyline and rivets characters in an irresistible yet nonchalant way.

With these in mind, you may create a To-do list at the planning stage. It could be as follows or you may have your template or you could even tweak the following.

  • To carve out a character: A program beneficiary
  • To build a storyline – with a beginning, middle, and end
  • To find a structure
  • To select a crew and arrange/ book gears
  • To fix a schedule for shooting and post
  • To arrange for logistics and transportation

This makes you armoured with the entire prerequisites before you take a plunge into the production. A meticulous plan for making videos helps you cut down unnecessary expenses and production time.

What are the factors to consider for expense while making your video?

There is a common misconception among the people working in nonprofit organizations that making a video or a documentary is highly expensive and takes too much time.

It used to hold some water a decade ago. But with the advent of technology and a door-step availability of reasonably priced shooting equipment (available on rent), this is no longer a valid argument.

Planning makes every penny spent wisely, but you need to consider a few things before setting the ball rolling. These things are directly related to the expenses that you have thought of allocating for video production.

Making a video with real-life footage is way different from creating an explainer video or short animation. And so are the expenses. The bulk of the money goes away during their production or shooting.

While explainer videos on service and products hugely circulate over the internet, especially social media, they are relatively easier to plan and produce.

Your spending will go way beyond the allocated figure if you don’t consider the following things [shown in the table] before scheduling a shooting.

Crew SizeRelates to logistic expense, 3-4 member crew is adequate for short features, documentaries to be shot mainly in outdoor. Crew size could go up if extensive illumination is required. Mostly nonprofit documentaries are shot outside
EquipmentDSLR or Mobile, If lights required, Any other gears like Slider, Pocket Jib. In the case of DSLRs, lenses are to be decided. 24-105, 50 mm [prime] and a 16-35 usually do the job. A 70-200 or 70-300 is required for shallow depth of field and close-ups. Acoustics like cordless lapel (for interviews) and an external recorder like Zoom H4n for ambience sound
LogisticsTransport, Car rental, hotel rents if shooting takes place out of town. Also some other out of pocket expense for consumables Recce or reconnoitre is an absolute necessity
Post-ProductionNo of days for edit, graphics and animation (if any) Narration/ Commentary Notes: voice over recording

These are the key things that you need to think of before spending. There is every possibility that these can vary a bit, even if you planned everything meticulously. But, one thing is for sure, that the expense will shoot through the roof if there is no plan.

Let’s consider you have a planned an edit-schedule of 4 days. But that could extend to 5 days or days if necessity demands. Without proper planning, it will go way beyond that deadline escalating the cost of production.

And it could happen anywhere under the above headers. More gears or lights mean a larger crew size and subsequently an increased cost of producing the video.

You have to talk to your cameraman well before shooting, what he is comfortable with, using DSLRs or a camcorder! Most cameras, these days, offer 4K and progressive format. However, full-frame HD or High definition [1920X1080 or 1080p] is still doing the round as YouTube doesn’t allow uploading videos over 720p for a free account holder.

Unless you have a business account, you can consider making a high-definition video instead of a 4K resolution.

          Interviewee to be placed at the golden third of the frame

You must pay attention to recording interviews. You have to talk to the speaker before recording, what to focus on, and precisely, what not to say! A brief on the talk and a short rehearsal just before the camera starts rolling help the speaker gets his or her flow and sounds natural. With this candid conversation, your sound recordist gets the time to monitor the audio level and adjust the bands at low, mid, and high range accordingly.

People sometimes get into a dilemma whether to shoot at 4k and reserve the decision of cutting a high definition film out of it later at the post-production stage. But that’s an uninformed decision. Unless you are sure of screening the video on a large display that shows 4K, you should go for High definition. With the current internet connection and 5G still looks distant from the grip of millions, there is no point making a 4K resolution video for social media promotion. Besides, the footage shot at 4K also heavily eats up disk space. It’s a waste of money and technology to shoot at 4K and then downgrade the footage to the level of high definition for post-production.  High Definition video at 1920 X 1080 is here to stay over the web for the next four years.

There are different video editing programs like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Final Cut that offer monthly subscription packages, while some are available free on the internet.

Some of the free available video editing programs: Avid Media Composer First, ShotCut, and OpenShot.

How to fill the gaps between pre-production, production, and post-production of a video?

So you planned have planned a riveting story, building up a conflict or issues with the help of a character, and then finally offering a solution to your audience. These are all chalked out in the pre-production stage.

One key issue is we often tend to divert from our original plan at the time of execution. This leads to anomalies during production and post-production.

Here comes the role of the director or producer. Keeping everyone in sync in terms of the planned storyline and structure of the video is the real challenge.

It’s always a challenge to stick to the point when it comes to making a documentary. You never know what will happen during the shoot. A director has to tweak the storyline at times at the behest of an impromptu occurrence.

How I changed a scheduled plan within 10 minutes – An instance

Let me share an instance here.  During making a documentary on a PAN India program funded by a department of the Govt. of India, I went for the recce in a remote village. I talked to a lady beneficiary whom I was supposed to come back later and interview on camera during the shoot. I had planned to cut a sequence with her being the central character.

 Arun Mondal; the nodal person-turned-character

But things turned out otherwise on the very day of the shoot. Even after repeated attempts, I couldn’t find her at the house. Possibly she got some contractual work in a nearby town and left. The program intervention in that village was on how an effective healthcare management (with scientific know-how) livestock could benefit the participants and sustainably fetch a greater income.

I thought out for a few moments and then decided to make a nodal person who was along with the crew members take the central role. He readily wore an apron and was made out to be on a visit to the village to goat farming and the pertinent health care issues.

In this case, only the central character of a sequence was changed under an unavoidable circumstance, but all the information and messages that were to be spread remain the same with a little change in the narrative later at the post-production stage.

In my experience, this flexibility gives us a smooth and seamless transition in the filmmaking process. It also leads us to another very important issue of time of writing the script or commentary script.

Write a script and then shoot or the other way around?

Usually, the clients or the people of the non-filmmaking profession like to have a script first and then go for a shoot. It helps them have a fair idea of what is going to happen during the shoot or who would be shot.

But actually, that restricts improvised storytelling.

There is another approach to filmmaking, even for the program documentation purpose. That is to have a clear structure in mind at the very outset of the filmmaking process. In my case, I get this through conducting a recce on location, talking to the beneficiaries followed by some research works at the pre-production stage.

Once I have a shape of the structure, I share it with my client. After we all get on board, I proceed to the logistics for production. This lets me have a definite structure without having to shape up the final storyline before the shooting. And that’s quite logical. Because I have seen over the years of my experience, there is always something unforeseen, untoward at times, that pops up during the shooting. 

If you write commentary before shooting, you will somewhat tend to drive your shoot according to what you have written down. That’s too required sometimes. But, in my consideration, that’s better to be avoided.

Creating a commentary is an evolutionary process. I love to carve out a storyline while I am editing. When editing and writing commentary script take place together, it develops through an evolutionary process. In my experience, that yields the best outcome. Again, I hold this view for making a documentary or a short film.

The non-fiction genre widely deals with storytelling in real life. And that comes best when you put forth your visuals and weave different threads of story around a central or multiple cores. Visuals are fundamentals to non-fictional films and the function of a narrative is to support the storyline, not to overwhelm it.

My observation, while dealing with the people, mostly the communication or program officers of the non-profit organization, they prefer to develop a storyline first and then go for the shoot. Budding filmmakers should be familiar with both ways if they do video documentation of a program, keeping in mind the pros and cons of both styles.

What are the campaign channels for video marketing?

You have made a video, now what to do with it and how!

If it’s a component of your program or project documentation, you have to submit it straightway to the screening authority or the funding agency.

But, it’s a different story altogether if you have made it for your organization’s branding and social media promotion.

Here, you have to take a note. If you have made a 10 or 15 minutes documentary, that’s a good bet for screening before a dedicated audience. But it’s not quite so in the case of social media promotion.

For that, you may consider creating several shorter version edits for sharing over social media. All the versions should be uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo. These shorter versions may be edited as teasers or hookers. In plain language, they will tell incomplete versions of the story with suspense or quest at the end.

That will bring back the traffic to other shorter version clips or even to the longer version format. More inquisitive people will look forward to watching a longer version to get to the bottom of your organization’s contribution to the program, how it was implemented or it had benefited people.

These days, uploading only on YouTube and then sharing the links on other platforms do not quite serve in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You have to separately upload onto Facebook and LinkedIn for a better optimization there.

Your Instagram account could be synced with Facebook. If you use Twitter, you could share YouTube or Vimeo links there. These days, social groups are particularly important for building a community and thereby drawing greater traffic to your video and site.

But remember, unsolicited and unnecessary social shares annoy the group admins and repel traffic. You should be seen as someone or an organization that helps people. In that context, share your links, when there is a palpable urge among the followers about your work and program implementation.

A regular share of your videos with a little withdrawn and casual approach makes people feel interested in you. It begins your journey toward inbound marketing, where getting traffic via content promotion without asserting yourself or exaggerating your organization before the audience.


There is no alternative to a consistent video promotion for the nonprofit organizations toward building a network and a greater outreach. Online presence has already become the most effective channel for any organization’s brand identity. And the video is perhaps the most dependable leg of content promotion over the web, now. 

People like stories and decent visuals. A viewer doesn’t always remember what you did, but he emotionally connects with you if there is an appeal and humane touch in your video.

Nothing works better than empathy and fellow feeling among the viewers.