How To Create Explainer Videos That Donors Will Love

August 12, 2019 0 Comments

Think for a second, how many videos have you watched this week? This whole month? If your browsing habits are anything like the majority of people’s, chances are you see at least a couple of videos every day.

It’s really not surprising. Video content has grown to be so ubiquitous that you’d need to go out of your way to avoid watching them.

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It is the main reason why so many nonprofits like yours looking to improve their digital marketing are turning to video. It just works.

Videos increase user engagement, boost traffic and time spent on websites, help boost SEO efforts, and are outright fantastic at communicating a company’s message. And while several types of videos can deliver on some of these accounts, few hit all the marks, as well as explainer videos, do.

What Is An Explainer Video?

Explainers are short videos (usually, under the 2-minute mark,) that describe your mission in a concise, clear and entertaining way. It follows a basic, yet effective structure – First, getting into the particulars of the issue and then portraying your solution. Your mission.

They allow you to showcase what your nonprofit’s all about, what you do and whom you have come to help. It also gives you a platform to include a compelling call-to-action that prompt your audience to take the next step – visit your site, fill out a form … – without seeming too “salesy.”

For example:

What Are The Advantages Of Producing Explainer Videos?

  • They are short and to the point: People’s attention span isn’t very high (some reports clocks it at 8 seconds.) Explainer videos are, by nature, a great way to get a lot of information across in a short time.
  • They put your personality on display: Explainers work as introductory videos for people that know nothing about you, serving as an ideal platform to introduce what you are all about. They can be the first thing a person sees about your nonprofit; allowing its voice and message to come through with unique combinations of visual styles, music, and narrative.
  • They teem with creativity: Or at least should, when done right! Explainer videos are the perfect medium to convey a message – especially when it requires generating empathy. For that, you can use meaningful animation, unexpected script turns (narrative), and adequate characterization.
  • They are adaptable: Explainers work in a lot of areas. You can share them over social media, embed them on your website, link them in your emails – even create a QR code for them to use on a brochure!

Now, let’s take a look at how you can create one that makes your nonprofit shine.

If at any point you feel a bit overwhelmed by this prospect, don’t be! As you work on developing your explainers, you’ll see how many of these elements play off of one another, connecting the whole process.

how to create an explainer video for nonprofits

How To Create An Explainer Video For Your Nonprofit, Step By Step

Other than the basics of realizing any project, producing fantastic explainers hinges on three main aspects you should know. Understanding who you are talking to, making your message feel relevant to them, and customizing it, so it speaks directly to their worldview.

Additionally, you also need to keep an eye on quality, branding, and promotion, to be honest. But if it sounds like a lot, don’t be discouraged! We’ll go through a bunch of tips and suggestions that will help you get there.

1. Get To Know Your Target Audience

Though all nonprofits further a social cause that provides a public benefit, no two are ever exactly alike. It’s not the same thing to bring awareness to climate change as to be working to provide shelter for the homeless.

You can say the same about audiences.

People willing to collaborate share a sense of generosity and empathy. But there are also plenty of personal, cultural, and even regional reasons why people support one organization or another.

Understanding those reasons is crucial for the success of your nonprofit’s explainer video. You want them to feel that your video is talking specifically to them.

Don’t make the assumption that you already fully understand who you are talking to. You want to base your audience’s persona out of a serious analysis, to avoid missing out on critical aspects.

Such research might include:

  • Conduct surveys for your collaborator base: You have to tackle both quantitative and qualitative aspects: everything from gender, age, location, and lifestyle to feelings and behaviors surrounding your mission and goals.
  • Monitor social media: Growing social media communities and maintaining them is an essential piece of a robust online presence, and nonprofits aren’t exempt! Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube present an endless source of information on the people you want to connect with. Use these platform’s analytics to understand your audience better and the topics they care about.
  • Research similar nonprofits: Find similar organizations to check out how they are communicating. This can work in 2 ways: either it shows you some guidelines to follow or gives you an idea of what to avoid or how to differentiate yourself.

Gather all the data you collected and create an audience persona. In other words, create an outline of the individual that’s more represented in the data set and more likely to contribute.

For instance, you can find that women aged 20 to 40 in California are more likely to share your content and bring attention to it.

The more defined this persona is, the better. Use this persona as a mold to base your explainer’s protagonist around.

explainer videos for nonprofits

2. Create A Relevant Message

Let’s talk about your message.

What you want to say should be almost immediately apparent: Your nonprofit’s mission.

But that’s not all you need to focus on! You should also convey how that affects your target audience to make them care. You need to get them involved, and you’ll only get that with a message that feels personal.

For instance, let’s say your nonprofit is all about reducing food waste by connecting food locales with community kitchens

Here are some tips to enhance that message:

  • Think of a clear and direct message that invites people to action: You can tell your audience you are reducing food waste by taking leftovers from food locales to community kitchens. But that message is all about you! You need to change it into an actionable message. You could say, “you can help reduce food waste and hunger in your community,” a message that appeals directly to the audience.
  • Make its relevance evident to the audience: With “you can help” is fairly apparent that the message is intended for the audience to take action (in contrast with a more informative message like “Our nonprofit is reducing food waste and hunger in the community” that feels broader and more generic).
  • Use data your audience can immediately grasp: You need to use information that people watching haven’t heard before. Rather than saying that “food waste is a common problem,” use something like “Did you know that X amount of food goes to waste each day, just in Los Angeles alone?” You can even use comparisons to make things more emphatic.

3. Define How You Want To Showcase Your Message On-Screen

Do you know what you are going to show in your explainer video? Images have to relate to your mission and message, as well as fit your nonprofit’s overall voice and your audience’s preferences.

Maybe you want to use sequences describing what your contributors do, or focus on your organization’s effect on peoples’ lives. You can use some effects to punctuate important parts of the script, or detailed graphics to help illustrate your message.

Here are some suggestions you can benefit from:

  • Characters on the screen should be as closest to your audience persona as possible: In order for people watching to identify with the video, you need that the “characters” are as relatable to them as possible. Pick the right personas and craft your animated characters based on how your target audience looks, talks, and behaves.
  • Use animation to explain complex processes. If your nonprofit is based on a complicated process, animated explainer videos are perfect to describe it. It makes it easier and more attractive than just a person talking.
  • Always aim for the highest possible quality. People expect high quality from videos. That means the best animation, music, and narration you can get. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of animation companies out there that can produce amazing work at a reasonable budget.

4. Inject Your Nonprofit’s Spirit Into The Video

A crucial thing in great explainer videos is that they need to feel personal and unique. Your presence has to be so strong that the audiences leave with the sense of knowing and understanding you a bit better. As well as the ability to identify you the next time they come across your content.

In other words, you need to make an impression.

It’s evident that the choices you’ve made thus far will speak about who you are, but there are smart strategies that let you do so much more! Things like:

  • Use your nonprofit’s colors: This might seem like an afterthought, but it really helps in solidifying your organization in your audience’s minds. Take your nonprofit’s logo color palette and use it at crucial moments whenever possible – in graphs, effects, and separators.
  • Put your logo as a watermark: Using your logo on one of the video’s corners to identify the video as yours and to make your name visible for anyone watching it – regardless of how they find it.
  • Show and use your name as much as you can (Within reason!): Be sure to mention your nonprofit’s name enough to associate it with what is on screen. Also, casually drop images and sound effects alongside your name and logo to reinforce the impact.
  • Include information on where you can be found: Your site’s URL, an email address, a phone number, and even a hashtag will help brand the video. Doing it provides a clear direction of where to go for people you’ve inspired to take action.
how to promote explainer videos for nonprofits

5. Promote Your Explainer Video Whenever Possible

A common rookie mistake that many organizations make, creating a video just to upload it to YouTube or bury it on their home page without sharing it. Don’t! If you make a fantastic explainer, but if no one gets to see it, your organization won’t reap the benefits it can bring!

To make sure that your explainer video spreads the message in the way you want it to, you need to use it whenever and wherever you can. Fortunately, the flexible nature of videos allows you to do that in several ways, including:

  • Upload your video natively to all your social media profiles: By all means yes, upload it to YouTube, but also Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and any other social media networks you have. Adjust all of its elements accordingly (title, description, links, thumbnails, hashtags) and periodically share them within those channels for maximum exposure.
  • Embed it on your site: You should put your video in a prominent location within your website. It can be your homepage, mission page, or you can even create a dedicated landing page for it.
  • Be creative with its use: You can also use the explainer video in emails, brochures, screens placed on events – you name it. An explainer video is a valuable piece of content that will surely catch the eye of people, so you’d better use it as often as possible to gain more exposure!

Final Thoughts

US adults spend an average of 6 hours watching video content each day. And explainer videos have proven to be very effective, conversion-wise, with 74% of people saying that they’ve bought a product after watching one. So, if it works for commercial companies, why wouldn’t it work for your organization?

Explainer videos increase awareness, boost website traffic, briefly explain what you do, and are an excellent gateway for action. They are pieces of evergreen content that you’ll keep benefitting from even long after their creation, without lessening their impact and usefulness.

It’ll be hard work to make a perfect one by yourself, and it’ll take some time, but it’ll all be worth it.

Your nonprofit will surely gain more exposure, feel fresh and relevant to your audience, and have acquired an amazing asset for its marketing efforts. Give them a try!

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AboutRafi Norberg