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Tips & guides 5,632 views Jul 12, 2016
4 steps to the perfect charity video

Video is a wonderful way of promoting your charity and showing people the work that you do. But it can be a daunting and expensive undertaking, especially for smaller charities. So here are my tips for making really good videos on a budget. 

Keep it Real

The most wonderful advocates for your charity are your beneficiaries and volunteers. Telling their stories can be a hugely effective way of communicating what you do and why someone should support you. And getting your volunteers to film themselves or to make films for you is a highly cost effective way of producing videos. The DIY approach not only adds authenticity but also means you can get some visually rich material: nothing makes people switch off quicker than ‘talking heads’.

Anthony Nolan are masters of this approach: they empower their donors and volunteer fundraisers to make and up-load films to their YouTube Channels and fundraising pages.

I love this film made by Annabelle Monks – it’s called My Friend the Stem Cell Donor and follows her friend Abbie as she makes a stem cell donation. Shot on a smart phone, Annabelle is able to be with Abbie all the way through and shows how easy it is to do.

Keep it Short

The YouTube stats are brutal: if a film is longer than a few minutes people stop watching in their droves. And Facebook counts anything longer than 3 seconds as a ‘view’.

That means you should keep your films short – aim for a maximum of 3 minutes and if you can keep it to 90 secs then even better. To do this you need to be clear about your film’s message: it’s much better to say one thing clearly and engagingly, than 3 or 4 things in a long, muddled message.

Fitness video for Age UK - NORMAN - PROMO VERSION from Magneto Films on Vimeo.

We made this film for Age UK – it’s to promote their Fit For the Future campaign to get Older People moving. It tells the story of Norman: his wife’s death, a meeting with an old friend, their love of dancing and how Age UK helped him.

All in 55 secs. But there is only one message: Fit For the Future works.

Keep it Focused

Even the best video is only a tool to help you communicate – simply making a film won’t bring more people to your website or increase your donations.

To be successful you’ve got to focus on the audience. If you can answer 3 basic questions, then you’ve got a good chance of making something that will be effective:

  • Who is going to watch this?
  • Where will they watch it?
  • What do we want them to do when they’ve watched it?

This film from the Human Rights Commission answers these brilliantly: aimed at informing young mums about their employment rights it features blogger mums (the ‘who’), who all post on a mums’ channel (the ‘where’) and gives clear direction at the end (the ‘what’).

Get it Out There!

Once you’ve made your film, let people know it’s ready to watch. It’s no good just plopping it onto YouTube or embedding it on your website, you’ve got to promote and encourage people to share it.

One of the simplest ways of doing this is to use your mailing list: email your supporters to let them know you’re making a film and tease them with some behind the scenes pics and quotes. You can put these on Twitter and Facebook too. Once the film’s made, email them again and tell them where they can watch it and ask them to share it. Make sure it goes on your Facebook page and consider doing paid promotion: it can be surprisingly cheap and very effective.

Make short clips and put them out on Twitter. These clips from the Children’s Society are from a longer film but are still very powerful.

Don’t forget the local papers – a well written press release along with some video content for their website is always welcome and a great way to reach new people.

Jeremy Jeffs is a founding partner of Magneto Films, a video production company that specialises in working with charities, not-for-profits and the public sector. Jeremy’s an award winning film maker with credits for films and series for BBC TV, Channel 4 and NatGeo. At Magneto he’s worked with charities and brands that include Age UK, Children’s Society and Macmillan Cancer Support and with brands including Ford and Expedia. He blogs on the latest charity videos at


Found this blog post useful? You may also like:   

Using  Video for Effective Fundraising

How to make friend with the media

Get your charity’s voice heard 


Tags: #tips  #charity  #video