– Inspirational Nonprofit Fundraising Video –

Raising money is hard these days even for the most well-recognized organizations.

But if you’re a super-small nonprofit with a small core of dedicated workers and supporters, it can be almost impossible.

There are, after all, only so many yard sales, bake sales and other mini-events you can do.

And who wants to try another car wash, with your kids waving cardboard posters at passing drivers?

The best way to go

Savvy nonprofits large and small are increasingly leveraging the power of video and the Internet to get their stories told and awareness raised.

And, they are reaping the multiple rewards that go with it: more volunteers, more community understanding and, yes, more funding — if they create their Internet message correctly.

Using video as a persuasive tool

A compelling video doesn’t have to be long and involved, with a price tag to boot, to be effective.

Some of the most worthwhile videos we’ve produced have been the very essence of simplicity — like this one we did a few years back for our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

They showed it at an “Ask” dinner and raised almost $10,000 in a single night. Then, they put it on their website with a direct link to the donations tab and it continues to bring in a substantial amount every month.

That’s great, but how do we do that?

It’s a good question, but not a hard one in this digital age, where you can access online templates for free or for under $20 — and you can create it, download it and show it yourself.

No need for a fancy production company to show up and charge big bucks.

Here’s how

First, gather all the most pertinent photos you can find of your nonprofit in action, showing whatever you’d like to have folks know about you.

You also want your show to tug at heart strings, so show lots of people, preferably smiling and interacting if appropriate.

Where that would not be the case is somewhere like a women’s shelter, where a happy shot may be hard to come by.

But either way, your images should paint a portrait of just what your mission is, and how you go about fulfilling it day to day.

Here’s a sample script

Open a new document on your laptop or PC or Mac and begin storyboarding and writing your script. Just write conversationally, using small words and short sentences.

  • Begin with a question or provocative comment, such as “Every night in Montgomery County, 50 children go to bed hungry.” (Black screen, white words)
  • Insert shot of unsmiling child in a dimly lit or side-lit room at home.
  • Next line: “Except on Friday night.”
  • Next line: “That’s when the kids bring their backpacks home full of food.”
  • Insert shot of full backpack with a smiling child or family around it.
  • Next line: “It’s the lifesaving help these families look forward to each week.”
  • Fade to black
I think I get the idea. What’s next?
  • Fade up on scene of volunteers going around town picking up food and supplies
  • Next line: “It takes volunteers almost all week to gather enough canned and nonperishable food to distribute on Fridays.”
  • Next line: “But we have a dedicated corps of volunteers who make it happen.”
  • Insert shots of hard-working volunteers, driving to pickup points, thanking donors, passing bags of groceries into car seats and trunks.
  • Insert shots of smiling volunteers, looking directly into the camera.
  • Next, insert shots of volunteers joking and laughing with each other as they stack the food onto shelves.
  • Next line: “They work all week long to make sure there is plenty to go around.”
  • Insert next line: “But some weeks, they must go shopping to make up the difference.”
  • Insert closeup shot of grocery bill.
  • Next line: “It puts a substantial dent in our bank account.”
  • Next line: “But the payoff is more than worth it.”
  • Insert shot of smiling child getting on the bus with his backpack bulging.
  • Next line: “His friends don’t know he’s got food, not books, in his bag.”
  • Next line: “That would embarrass him.”
  • Insert shot of volunteers filling backpacks at school in a closed room.
  • Insert shot of volunteer handing the bag to a child, all smiling.
  • Next line: “This way, everyone goes home happy.”
  • Next line: “The children. The families.”
  • Final line: “And more than anyone — our volunteers.”
  • Insert shot of volunteer smiling.
  • Fade to black
The conclusion and the “Ask”
  • Next line: “Montgomery County’s Backpacks With a Smile volunteers can’t do it alone, however.”
  • Next line: “That’s where our wonderful donors come in.”
  • Insert next line: “For every child, about $50 a week is required to put the lifesaving food in his backpack.”
  • Insert shot of grocery clerk filling a box
  • Next line: “Some of the food is donated, thankfully.”
  • Next line: “But the rest must be bought.”
  • Insert next line: “Would you consider being one of our Contributing Angels?”
  • Next line: “And keep a child from going hungry this weekend?”
  • Next line: “As a Contributing Angel you pledge a certain amount each week or month.”
  • Insert shot of a hand, writing a check.
  • Next line: “You authorize a direct deposit or recurring payment on your credit card.”
  • Next line: “We suggest a recurring contribution of at least $35 a month to keep us even.”
  • Insert next-to-last line: “But we would appreciate any amount you can give.”
  • Fade to black
  • Fade up on 2 smiling children with their backpacks in a home setting
  • Last line: “They — and we — say Thank You, from the bottom of our hearts.”
  • Fade to black
Fair enough. How do I make a video of this script?
  • Go to Animoto.com and sign up for a monthly Personal subscription.
  • Skip the 14-day free trial. You would get your show free, but there would be a big watermark on it. Not good for your purposes.
  • This way, you have access to the best templates for your needs and it will only cost you $14 total (at this writing)
  • It will say on the first subscription screen that you will be billed at a rate of $8 a month for one year, all collected up front. But don’t worry.
  • Click to the next screen and you’ll be given the chance to choose the monthly option at $14.
  • So make your show on this plan, using the best templates on the Web, download a crystal clear MP4 in High Definition, and then
  • Cancel your subscription sometime in the next 30 days. Don’t forget.
All right. I’ve got access to Animoto. Now what?
  • On the screen that says “Animoto Memories,” click Create.
  • Choose a video “style”, also known as a template by following these steps.
    • Scroll down and choose “All”
    • Try out a few different styles if you wish. Don’t listen to the music that comes with the demo. You’ll probably be changing it anyway.
    • And it doesn’t really matter what style you choose at this point. For this kind of show, we recommend either:
      • Frameless
      • Innocence, or
      • Light Panes
  • Any of these will provide nice, big images that flow or slide into place at the right time.
  • With Innocence or Light Panes, your only choices are white or black
  • With Frameless, you’ll need to set some filters regarding typeface, slide transitions vs fade and a few other options.
  • If you get stuck trying to figure any of this out, just shoot us a note. We’ll be happy to set you straight. Here’s a link to the Contact Us page.
  • Your storyboard screen pops up. Find the music you want first. Click the top bar and sample away.
  • Animoto makes four music suggestions based on your chosen style, but you can click the Popular for Personal tab for more suggestions, or
  • Click the lowest bar and cruise the entire library. You can filter it by genre, mood, instrumental vs vocal and by time length (but you won’t know that for awhile).
  • When you find a track you think will work, go up to the top right and click Select Song.
  • Or, you can upload your own MP3 file. Just make sure it’s not copyrighted. And if you’ve gotten it from YouTube’s music library, be sure to give credit for the track at the end of your description.
  • Now it’s set in your storyboard. Time to begin populating it. Luckily, you’ve got a script to follow, so it should go quickly.
Filling in the storyboard
  • Click the + symbol to insert a blank text slide.
  • Here is where you will put your first line or two of script.
  • Break the sentences into small sections, as shown in the sample video.
  • Next, insert a photo by clicking the + sign again and choosing the “Add photos” option.
  • Continue in this manner, closely following your script.
  • Don’t worry yet about the video’s length or pacing relative to the music. Just get all the verbiage and images in place, in order according to your script.
Adjusting the timing along with the music you’ve chosen
  • Click the Preview button in the lower left corner. A low resolution draft will begin playing (hopefully) within 15 seconds or so.
  • Right away, you’ll probably notice that the images and text don’t move quickly or slowly enough to follow the music’s beat. That’s okay. We’ll adjust it in a moment.
  • Let it play to the end of the music or the slides — whichever comes first — to determine whether the slides are all in the correct order. If not, rearrange as needed by left-clicking images or text slides and moving them around.
  • Click Preview again as often as needed to make sure the order is now as you wish.
Adjusting the timing
  • This can be a bit tricky and tedious, but absolutely worth it.
  • You’ll ideally want the images and text to change (more or less) on the downbeat of the music. If that’s not happening you can:
    • Choose to highlight any or all of the images and text to increase the number of seconds they appear.
    • Or, you can click the “gear” icon in the Music bar up top and choose “Auto” under Image Pacing. This may require that you add more slides to fill the song.
    • Or, uncheck the Auto function and slide the pacing bar left or right to make the slides change more or less quickly.
  • Preview again and again until you’re satisfied.
Putting on the final touches
  • Go to Settings in the top right corner and choose a cover image, and give the show a name.
  • You also have the option to add a description. You might as well, as this will save time later when posting your video to YouTube.
  • Finally, preview it one last time to make sure it is paced correctly and all images and text move along at the right pace.
  • Then, click Produce and follow the prompts. The video will likely play through at least once as it “renders” your final show in the background.
  • Watch the progress bar just under the video screen to see when it is finished rendering. If needed, open the show again to adjust things by clicking the Edit button.
  • Then, click Produce again to get a final product, which you can then:
That’s it!

You’ve created your first show using Animoto. All shows produced on this platform will follow this process, more or less.

So feel free to create a copy of the show you just finished and experiment with other styles and other music to see if you like it better — or to make it more effective.

Gather feedback and adjust accordingly by reopening your show in Edit mode.

Follow the prompts to render a final file, which you can burn to DVD or copy to a flash drive for showing one-on-one to donors or to play at fund-raising events.


I appreciate your patience as you followed this step by step guide. I hope your finished video meets with repeated approval and subsequently works hard to secure funding for your organization/



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