Nonprofit video roars into 2011: Here are the trends

flickr/John Biehler

I just took a terrific, free, Common Knowledge webinar on the five big nonprofit communication trends for 2011. It was beyond great; it was inspirational! So thorough and well-grounded in strategy-first. I’m going to be sharing some of the major take-aways in my next couple of posts.

BTW—Common Knowledge hosts a weekly webinar series, usually free. I highly recommend them.

One of the trends that excited me most was the increasingly central role that video will play in nonprofit (and everyone else’s) communications starting this year. Two things are contributing to that fact: Technology’s making it easier to stream video and video production tools are easily accessible, simple to use, and affordable.

In the last several months, mobile devices like smart phones and pads have made huge leaps in their capacity to stream video, and internet providers continued to provide faster wireless services and increased bandwidth. Meanwhile, the flipcam and other small, simple video cams—and easy movie editing software included on most computers—have brought production capabilities to almost anyone. If you don’t have any one on staff who knows how to shoot and edit video, you can easily find someone to do it for you at a reasonable rate.

The big predictions

What’s going to be happening in the nonprofit world with video this year?

  • Mobile video breaks out

Greater speed and capacity will have everyone viewing video on their phones or pads.

  • Video advertising becomes more popular

Following commercial advertising trends that recognize dynamic is more effective than static, video ads will join SEO and banner ads as ways that nonprofits can cultivate supporters.

  • User-generated video content goes mainstream

Your nonprofit isn’t the only one capable of producing video that can advance your organization. Your supporters can—and do—too. They’ll be looking for ways to help you tell your story through this medium. Invite them.

  • Marketing video blossoms

Our lingering reliance on text and photos will fade further as nonprofit storytelling makes more and more use of video—a medium (thanks to TV) that everyone’s familiar with and one that humans find very engaging.

Your first steps

If you’ve never done a video before, start now! And probably, start small.

Produce a video in 2011. Take a look at all your communications strategies and objectives this year (and your budgets) and seriously consider which could be better met through a video. There must be at least one opportunity in there somewhere! (Read more about video strategy in my past post on it. Figuring out who you’re trying to reach and why is a critical first step.)

Find a videographer who knows how to shoot, edit, help create a story arc, and do effective interviewing. Work with them on your first production to learn the ropes.(BTW: The rule of thumb for budgeting is about $1,000 for each finished minute of video, but you can pay more if you want a really professional result.) Once you’ve been through the production process a few times, and have gained skills, you may be able to buy a small video camera and do production yourself.

Think in advance how you will use/promote the video, and what ROI you’re after. Will you put it on your website, in an email, on YouTube, on your social networking sites? Also think how the video will integrate with and support your other communications tactics. What response to the video will spell success?

Measure results against the ROI you outlined. By tracking these results, you can get better with each video production you do. You don’t have to be great right off the bat, but you do owe it to your supporters to get better and better.

I leave you with one statistic: Within the next three years, it’s estimated that nearly half of all the information on the internet will be streaming video.

Need any more motivation?

CC photo credit: John Biehler


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4 Responses to “Nonprofit video roars into 2011: Here are the trends”

  1. Rich Tolsma Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you say in this post. But this “rule of thumb” of $1K/finished minute is misleading and, as communications professionals, we should put it to rest. I’ve been hearing this so-called “rule of thumb” as long as I’ve been in the business (nearly 35 years now) and it has never been true. The cost of producing a quality video depends on many different things, but length is most definitely not a reliable indicator of price. I’ve produced 60-minute programs for $5,000 and 2-minute programs for $50,000. Misleading folks with the $1K/minute fallacy will unnecessarily frighten some away (we think we need a 10-minute program but there’s no way we could ever afford $10,000) and blind others to reality (we want a 7-minute documentary so that should cost us about $7,000, right?). Nonprofit communicators should think first about their audience, purpose and objectives and then work with someone who can help them reach those goals with the resources they have available – creatively, efficiently and effectively.

    There are indeed wonderful things happening in the way we are able to communicate, as you point out. As professionals, let’s work with our clients to help them reach their goals with these newly accessible tools.

  2. Resource Round-Up, May 2011 Says:

    […] Berigan Gayle Gifford- What one book changed your professional life?Gayle Thorsen- Nonprofit video roars into 2011: Here are the trendsMarc Pitman- Learning social media with an 11 year oldAmy Eisenstein- How to Meet Donors with Big […]

  3. Nonprofit video roars into 2011: Here are the trends, by Gayle Thorsen Says:

    […] all the terrific articles Gayle has posted there. It will be time very well spent!  Thanks, Gayle!Nonprofit video roars into 2011: Here are the trendsI just took a terrific, free, Common Knowledge webinar on the five big nonprofit communication […]


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