One of the most essential aspects of any successful crowdfunding campaign is what’s called a ‘call-to-action’ video. These videos are generally 2-4 minutes long and are put together with one simple goal: get viewers to do something. Think of them like commercials. Some are more effective than others, but they tend to follow certain sets of rules and they all have the same end goal: to inform you about their organization and convince you to spend money.

A great example is insurance commercials. Several major insurance providers have been following the same pattern recently to get viewers to buy their insurance, and funnily enough the strategy they’ve been using is more or less the same way to make a successful call-to-action video for a non-profit: memorable spokespeople. Think about Progressive, AllState and Geico. Chances are, if you’ve watched television in the past six months, you’re picturing these three:

In their commercials, none of these three waste much time quoting figures or statistics, their goal is to give you something to remember when you think about spending money on insurance. Successful call-to-action videos employ the same principal.

Believe it or not, extensive research has gone into the psychology behind social giving and video production. Across the board, successful videos have stories and central, memorable characters. This is because people relate to people better than they relate to numbers - nonprofits & charities have more success when their videos focus on (for example) one hungry child, one rescue dog, etc. The goal is to elicit emotion in the viewer. This engages them on a personal level and that is when they are inspired to donate to your cause.

As our nonprofit clients gear up to start producing their own call-to-action videos, this is a lesson that I think should be taken to heart. If you’re raising money for general operating expenses, the central character & their back story could be that of your nonprofit’s founder, a particularly affected staff member, or a person who has been helped by your nonprofit. If you’re raising money for a specific project, for example building a school in an impoverished area, focus on a student who the school will help. People like helping people.

And as a personal side-note, I met the AllState Mayhem guy in Union Square. His name is Dean Winters. He was super nice, absolutely hilarious, absurdly charismatic, and he bought me a drink when I told him he was hilarious in 30 Rock.

@mdshreve

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