Create a Successful Nonprofit Video: Adapt a Genre to Connect with Your Audience

Have you ever created a video promoting one of your programs or campaigns, only to watch it flounder and never catch on with your intended audience? After about a week you start to revisit your video checklist regarding quality (light/sound), promotion (newsletters/social media/web site/etc), and even reposting it on outlets you didn’t consider relevant the first time around.

A week after that you feel confident that you covered your bases, but still confused by the lack of interest and general engagement. What if there were items you overlooked that are even more fundamental than choosing the right microphone or digital recorder. Not focusing on these items may be the reason your video fell flat.

So let’s go to a perfect example of a video that works – this time from the Winnipeg Humane Society. I’ve always liked the video below and while it didn’t receive as many views as many others on YouTube, it clearly demonstrates an incredibly important aspect of any video: embrace your genre.

(As an aside: many people write-off a video like this for the exact reasons you should check it out: small budgets, volunteer talent, and little to no time for production. Nonprofits are frequently strapped for resources and must rely on creativity and be hyper aware of genres that replace money and sparkle.)

Know your genre

Pick a genre that people can quickly identify with, in this case the crazy local salesman pitch. Who hasn’t seen a video like this late at night from your local celebrity car/furniture/mattress salesman? Embrace your chosen genre by accentuating its key components (language, graphics, editing style, etc).

Appropriate talent

Don’t push your CEO into a role that’s not appropriate. Find the right talent for the job, in this case Winnipeg’s own Andy Hill from Kern Hill Furniture Co-op was a perfect fit. A familiar face will bridge that gap and bring authenticity to your video. It will also be easier for a spokesperson to speak about your mission when they are in their element.

Write smart

If your copy doesn’t fit the genre then everything else will go up in smoke. Resist the urge to cut and paste copy from your brochure or website. Instead watch a few videos from the same genre noting key words, phrases, costumes, and actions. Be sure that these are also in your video and take them up a notch so that they are more noticeable.

After viewing countless nonprofit videos over the years I’ve seen my share of polished and respectable clips that went nowhere. They fail when they don’t embrace their genre. It also helps if you have some kittens and a sense of humor.


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