Great video that inspires action: How non-profits can better use this fast-growing medium

Sometimes the best video comes from authentic voices, not fancy equipment.

Video is one of the fastest-growing attractions on the Web. It brings new viewers to your site and can engage potential donors in new ways. So how can non-profits make the most of this valuable medium? I was really struck by Avaaz.org’s use of video to demand action. The example is not a new one, but it teaches some evergreen lessons to non-profits everywhere. Namely:

  1. Great video doesn’t require expensive equipment.
    Sometimes the most compelling videos are the ones shot with Web cams in someone’s basement. The message is what is important, not what is used to take the video. I think with non-profits this is especially relevant. Often if it looks like you’ve spent too much money on the production of the video, people will discount the cause as frivolous. When you have low-grade but very compelling video, you’re making the case that your effort is going toward the important stuff-not the administration and overhead.
  2. The way you send out your videos to the world makes a big difference.
    The e-mail Avaaz.org sent to petition videos (below) is compelling because it is clear, it leads with a problem we can all understand, and it gives readers clear, and very doable, action steps. It is also short.
    Here’s the e-mail, thanks to Autoscopia:

The world food crisis is skyrocketing – steadily rising prices are squeezing billions and triggering food riots from Bangladesh to South Africa. Aid agencies say 100 million people are facing starvation.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/world_food_crisis/5.php?cl=94029425

In response, the United Nations is convening an emergency summit of world leaders in Rome this week. There is a real danger that rich country leaders will push half measures and band-aid solutions – we need a huge global outcry to demand rapid, massive, coordinated action.

The head of the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, will receive our petition at the summit at 9:30AM on Wednesday morning. This is a huge opportunity for our voice to reach our leaders directly, but we need half a million voices in the next 60 hours.

Click below to sign the petition, and then tell your friends and family: http://www.avaaz.org/en/world_food_crisis/5.php?cl=94029425

Too often non-profit organizations try to fit too much information in e-mails and press releases. It is much better to follow the model of Avaaz.org . Explain the problem clearly, and then give people a way to make a difference.

If your audience wants to learn more about what you do, they’ll figure it out on the rest of your Web site.

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