Video is an incredible, essential resource for nonprofits and other do-gooders. For cause advocates seeking to tell the world a story, reach vast audiences and move people to action, video has become an indispensible tool.
While it's true that anybody with a camera and a moving story can make a difference, it's also true that the right training, tools and thinking can help guarantee successful video projects.
See3 is recognized as the authority in online video for nonprofits and our agency produces hundreds of videos for every kind of worthy issue each year. Over the years we've been able to share some of our insights with the cause community and during this year's DoGooder Awards we want you to think about doing more with video, learn something new and pass it on.
Enjoy these collected tips and tricks. If you want to learn more about how See3 works with clients to create impact through online video and more, contact us today. Thanks and good luck!
Into Focus: Benchmarks for Nonprofit Video
In the summer of 2013, See3 Communications teamed up with YouTube and Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, for an unprecedented look into the nonprofit sector to see how organizations are utilizing video for their communications efforts.
The findings of this survey were compiled along with best practices and expert tips and tricks and are available to download here.
Tips & Tricks from Our Team to Yours
Approaches to creating successful videos can be as varied and specific as the campaign and communication goals that drive their production. However, over the years our team of producers and communications specialists have identified a handful of "rules to live by" for nonprofits who want to create video. Some of us are sharing those insights in the playlist below. Enjoy these quick videos and be sure to share with your peers!
See3's Guide to Online Video
In 2009, we made this video series to educate the cause community about the paradigm shift towards digital storytelling and the need for organizations to reach their constituents through sight, sound and motion online. Since then, the field has grown exponentially and video, web and networking technologies have all advanced in dazzling new ways - but the idea that compelling video stories help causes to break through the media clutter is fresher than ever.
Video Tools for the Savvy Nonprofit
Like any skilled online media, there is an art and science to video. See3's producers and editors work with the production industry's latest tools and hardware every day. We've shared some thoughts on tools and resources that cause video creators should consider and answered some of the most commonly asked questions we get.
What cameras do you recommend for nonprofits?
There are so many great cameras on the market today, but they’re not all going to be right for your organization. If you’re shooting a quick interview to post to constituents right away, use your smart phone! iPhones even have lens and external microphones to plug in to give your video better sound and image. They're cheap, portable, and perfect for online use.
If you’re looking for a solid, inexpensive hand-held, we like the Kodak Zi8. While there are some cameras out there with better image quality, the Kodak Zi8 gives us above average quality HD video and the ability to record better sound than a camera with on-board microphones. The Kodak also gives the option of using external memory cards making data transfer easier and less dependent on having a charged camera battery. If you do a lot of your own video and need to make a long-term investment, then go with what we use: the Canon 7-D.
As for audio, a good investment is the Sony EMC-T6. This small external mic will yield higher quality sound than the built-in mic, allowing subjects to record voice over and other important dialogue.
For a more thorough review of video tools for nonprofits, read this NTEN Blog post by Stacy Laiderman, See3's Senior Producer.
Where can I get good, cheap equipment?
Of course, making a video doesn’t end with the camera. There’s all the equipment that goes with it. Look for gear on B&H, Amazon.com or New Egg. Sign up for their alerts so you’ll be the first to know when something becomes available.
Remember that it saves to get creative. Instead of buying a tripod, use a table. Instead of buying professional lights, use the lighting around you and a couple of clamp lights from Home Depot. Don’t skimp on the microphones, though! Viewers are more willing to excuse poor visuals than poor audio. Good sound makes all the difference!
If we want to edit a video on our own, what software do you recommend?
No matter if you are on a Mac or a PC, we recommend Adobe Premier Elements for beginners and Adobe Premier Pro for intermediate to advanced editors. Final Cut and Avid are also good options, but we use Adobe Premier because it "talks" nicely with After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator. Adobe products including the Adobe Creative Cloud are available at a discount via TechSoup here.
Where do you suggest we host our videos?
We are big fans of YouTube because of its ubiquity and its suite of services and tools for nonprofits, but we recognize the each organizations needs are different. It all depends on what capabilities you need and how you want to present your video online. Some other sites to check out are Vimeo, Veoh, Viddler, Blip.tv, MetaCafe, and DailyMotion. If you have accounts on all of these sites, you can upload your videos directly to OneLoad and distribute content across all of them at once.
How can we stay tuned in to what other nonprofits are doing with video?
Sign up for the Daily DoGooder. The Daily DoGooder is a free service that brings you one interesting cause video each day, right to your inbox. It is a great way for nonprofit leaders to see the best examples of video from the nonprofit world.
Where can we find inexpensive images and music for our videos?
We use a lot of different services like Killer Tracks and Reuters for our videos, But for inexpensive music, try Music Bakery or RoyaltyFreeMusic.com. For stock photos, try Fotolia. Check out Creative Commons, too—you might find quality photos that you can use as long as you attribute the source.
Are there online video tools designed specifically for nonprofits?
The YouTube Nonprofit Program offers nonprofits increased branding opportunities and some great video tools, such as Linkable Annotations , Call-to-Action Overlays and exclusive YouTube Channel features. It is currently open to nonprofits in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, and it's completely free. If your nonprofit is eligible for membership in the program and hasn't yet signed up for this valuable free service, do it today!
Animoto is another excellent service for nonprofits on a budget. With Animoto, you can make videos automatically out of your images, text, and music. We've seen some creative nonprofits make some very engaging, high quality videos using this tool.
What do you recommend for live streaming?
Live streaming has become incredibly simple, and many of our clients have used this technology to broadcast and archive both training sessions and press conferences. We recommend using either UStream or Livestream.
How can my staff or volunteers learn how to shoot and edit video?
See3 does video trainings for various orgs, but that's not always in the budget for every organization. If you have staff that are good at the DIY stuff, check out Lynda.com and Creative Cow or Vimeo’s Video Academy for tutorials and training. Sign up for See3's e-newsletter to receive invites to online trainings and webinars throughout the year.
What are the best practices around getting video releases?
We use a standard release for all our shoots, whether it's documentary or commercial style. If you work at a school or a workplace where you expect to be recording events on a regular basis, then you may consider including releases as part of your organizational handbook or rules.
Then again, there are times when you don't expect to be filming and you need to capture footage on the go. In most cases, getting verbal agreement from your subject on film will be enough to cover you. Just make sure you're clear with the subject exactly how you intend to use the footage. And remember: we're not lawyers, so if you're not sure, consult yours.
Stay in touch with See3 by signing up for our e-newsletter, following us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribing to us on YouTube. We hope you've found this page helpful and we hope you keep on doing good with online video.