Millennial Filmmaking Skills a Boon to Nonprofits: Here’s How!

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November 29, 2016, Forbes

Austin Gallagher, founder and CEO of Beneath the Waves, writes for the Forbes Nonprofit Council column. His ocean conservation initiative includes film festivals that help advance Beneath the Waves research and awareness programs. Gallagher writes this Forbes article to share advice on filmmaking in general and in particular the value of engaging talented millennials in creating the artwork.

Gallagher references a number of filmmakers he’s worked with, such as Sami Kattan who produced “The Global Connection” for Beneath the Waves, and Diego Camejo from Artec Media. There is also 26-year-old filmmaker Hunter Nolan of Insight Visual Co., best known perhaps for “Racing Extinction,” and more recently Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood.”

So for our last large-scale field expedition, I brought along Artec to join Sami and Hunter. The fusion was palpable. They created three video logs from the field, five short profiles of our team and a longer piece for our social media; collectively, the videos got 70,000 views. Now, virtually all of the content on our Facebook page is from this team.

Gallagher advises that while young filmmakers need to be paid a “proper compensation,” they are there and the right one may be inspired to create something memorable for your cause.

Yes, stories rule and young artists are a great source of talent. Rembrandt was twenty-three when he painted his first masterpiece. But if you have no budget for video production, there are alternatives, such as your smartphone, laptop and free social media channels. There is also the possibility of a video production firm offering their services pro bono or an individual professional offering volunteer support.

Knowing the value of video and being aware of what works are the first steps to incorporating video into your marketing plan. “We’re going to be video first,” says Zuckerberg about Facebook. “We really believe that most of the content that people consume online is going to be video.”

According to Cisco, Internet video traffic will be 69 percent of all global consumer Internet traffic in 2017; by 2016, two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, video generates three times as many monthly visitors to a website as other content; visitors spend 88 percent more time on a website that includes video; organic traffic from search engines increases by 157 percent with video; consumers (donors?) are 46 percent more likely to seek information about a product or service (cause?) after seeing in an online video; consumers are 85 percent more likely to buy (make a donation?) after watching a product video; and consumers have 57 percent more confidence in their purchase with video.

Here is an infographic from Hubspot showing many more convincing video marketing statistics. Witness.org trains and supports citizens around the world in the use of video to expose human rights abuse. YouTube’s Nonprofit Program offers free support. There are many good websites that offer free video marketing advice such as TubularInsights.

There are a few all-time great nonprofit videos to see for ideas (if not production values) to try to imitate in telling your own stories. These might include “Follow the Frog,” “How to Shock a Celebrity,” and, of course, “Most Shocking Second a Day” with nearly 56 million views and Save the Children’s follow-up video this year, “Still the Most Shocking Video a Day.

Whether your organization has the resources to engage a professional crew to produce your video or whether you are on your own, there are a number of guidelines to remember:

  • Make your story real and relatable to your viewers;
  • Be creative;
  • Instead of dreaming about your video going viral, think realistically about the key people you want to reach and move to action;
  • Make your story about who or what you serve, not about your organization; and
  • Include a “call to action”

Once you get the hang of easily creating videos, create new and/or repurpose your content to create special thank-you videos for individual major donors and other important constituencies.

If you need a video to stay inspired, here is Beyoncé’s “I Was Here” presentation at the United Nations on World Humanitarian Day with more than 62 million views. This video is for you and your colleagues, who are doing vital work with little fanfare. NPQ serves you, and here is a series of videos and written stories we recently produced to honor your work.—James Schaffer