On Video Use and Nonprofits

Not For Profit

Nonprofits have been testing the waters of all sorts of social media networks to learn how to use these to effectively market their services and engage the public. Adding Youtube to the brew has been a no-brainer. For one thing, people respond to video. For another thing, it’s a very flexible medium.


Tom Holst

A nonprofit can spend a lot on production and do something really splashy, such as the “Charity Water” clip (below), or something more low-key and budget-minded, such as this modest offering from car donation charity Kars For Kids. Low-budget doesn’t mean less-effective. As nonprofits are beginning to learn, it’s all about being media savvy.

A recent collaborative research effort by video giant Youtube, communications company See3, and public relations guru Edelman has evolved into a guide for nonprofits on how to make effective use of video. The report, “Into Focus:  Benchmarks for Video and A Guide for Creators,” has its basis in a survey involving 500 nonprofits as well as interviews with individual social media marketing experts.  Into Focus describes nonprofit use of video as it is now, the challenges video use presents, and suggestions for best practice video tips.

Necessary Adjunct

Among the major findings is that nonprofits agree video is a necessary adjunct to communications, but most don’t really feel comfortable with either using video or figuring out how to measure the effectiveness of their video campaigns. Of those surveyed, 80% said that video is important to their organizations right now, 91% believe that video will gain in importance over the next 3 years, and 92% feel their video investments have value.

On the whole, the nonprofits surveyed said they want to expand video operations, but 2/3 of those surveyed said that their video budgets will remain the same or be reduced. The idea that video is an important tool is belied by the amount nonprofits are willing—or rather unwilling—to spend on these efforts. The level of priority assigned to this form of media doesn’t appear to match the actual efforts and resources that nonprofits are willing to invest in that direction.

Gauging Effectiveness

Lastly, those surveyed admitted that the major impediment to investing more money and time into video is the fact that the metrics are difficult. What’s most important? Click-throughs? User comments? Views? It’s yet another social media science that must be puzzled out and mastered. Organizations just don’t yet know how to gauge the effectiveness of their forays into video. A full 76% of the respondents said they either don’t know how video effectiveness is measured or that they rely on anecdotal reports from others for that purpose.

Nonprofits get that video can be an important tool for branding and engagement, but they could use a bit of a tutorial in making it all come together. It seems that there is a wide opening for social media experts to explore here in helping nonprofits learn how to use the metrics and how to make the most effective use of video. If that can be accomplished, it seems reasonable to expect that in the near future, nonprofits will begin to invest much more time, money, and effort into video.

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