The Video Script We Use to Raise Millions for Nonprofits
When it comes to telling your story, there is no more powerful medium today than video. Digital fundraisers with videos raise over 400% more than those without. Americans are spending an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes on their smart phones every day. Your donors want you to tell your story through video.
After six years of helping hundreds of nonprofits execute digital fundraisers, I’ve honed in on what works and what doesn’t, and I’m about to give away all of our video secrets. Before we jump into the particulars, please understand that if you have a smartphone, you have the tools you need to create an incredible video. Entire feature films have been shot on iPhones, so feel confident that it will get the job done.
Every video should have two goals — educate and inspire. Educate your audience on your cause and your impact. Even if they’re familiar with your organization, the reminder will provide an advantageous setting for you to inspire them. We inspire donors with powerful imagery and anecdotal success stories.
Here’s the tricky part, we have to accomplish these goals by keeping our audience in the emotional side of their brain, where decisions are made. When educating, we’re often tempted to use statistics, but those will pull your audience over into the analytical side of their brain, where we work to justify decisions. So if we’re going to use a statistic, it should be a nice round number that is shocking to hear and elicits an emotional response.
So let’s get into it. Here is the framework we use at Gladitood to build video scripts that have helped us raise millions of dollars over hundreds of digital fundraising campaigns. Medical research can be one of the most difficult causes to appeal to donors online, so I’ll use a lung cancer organization as an example.
VIDEO SCRIPT FRAMEWORK
GRAB ATTENTION 10 Seconds to grab the viewer’s attention and hold it. Easiest way to do this is by sharing a shocking statistic or powerful anecdote.
EXAMPLE “Every year, X number of people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the US. These people are not necessarily smokers. They’re firemen, and construction workers. They’re teachers and nurses. They’re mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They’re just like you and me.”
ENGAGE EMOTIONS Hit the viewer right in the feelings. Now that we have their attention, you need to capture their emotions. The only way to do this is to present a storyline they can relate to.
EXAMPLE “And when they’re diagnosed, they only wish for one thing. More time. More time with family. More time for birthday parties and graduations. Weddings and Sunday dinners. More time to hug the ones they love.”
PROVIDE DETAILS Now you have their attention and emotions, you need to explain WHY you’re raising money, and what you’re doing with the money.
EXAMPLE “And thanks to the amazing work of Dr. Govindan, Washington University, and Siteman Cancer Center, more people are being granted that wish every day. You can be part of the generation to blow up lung cancer. Every dollar raised for this campaign goes directly to support the groundbreaking research of Dr. Govindan, one of the most accomplished lung cancer researchers in the country.”
CALL TO ACTION Provide a call to action. Remind them of the emotions you elicited, and ensure they understand the impact of their donation.
EXAMPLE “By making a donation today, you aren’t just supporting research. You’re giving a family the greatest gift of all, more time.”
PREEMPTIVE THANKS Preemptively thank your viewer to make them feel as though they’ve already made their decision to support your cause. Let them know how appreciative you are for their support.
EXAMPLE “From the bottom of our hearts, and the hearts of the families we support, thank you for joining us. Together, we will blow up lung cancer.”
I’m extremely proud of that video script. Turning medical research into an emotional appeal is no easy task, and I don’t believe we could have accomplished this without the framework above. Your video serves as the nucleus of your campaign. It’s a small, but important piece of the digital fundraising puzzle. If you want to learn how we put the whole picture together to raise millions across all our clients, shoot me a quick note at