Last week I was critical of an Oxfam video featuring crowdsourced video content.

Actually, I love the idea of sourcing content (of all kinds, for that matter) from donors, volunteers and especially the beneficiaries of whatever it is you do. What I didn’t like was the execution. It told no story about the need it was dedicated to. But that’s history.

In response, the folks at Farm Aid were brave enough to send me their latest video campaign, asking me how I felt about it.

Well, here it is … a fundraising appeal pegged to long time farmer advocate Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday (can you believe it?!).

Now I’m trying to be reasonably objective, so I’ll confess that I adore Willie Nelson. Had a chance to work with him on a television fundraiser for another of his causes, Habitat for Humanity. He’s a totally generous and committed spirit.

OK, I’ll give this video campaign a C+. It did hold my interest … I watched the main video as well as a few of the video tributes that were paid to Willie. And I do believe that he is so beloved that many people, especially if they were already supporters of Farm Aid, would dig in and give a little.

But I’d still submit that the case for giving should have been presented more strongly. Indeed, a casual look might leave you thinking you were being asked to contribute to Willie (and given Willie’s past brushes with the IRS, you might wonder!) rather than to Farm Aid.

To Farm Aid I would say, Willie’s the draw and scores an instant emotional connection (assuming you’ve heard of him), but he’s not really the reason to give. The video appeal would have been stronger, IMHO, if it pointed to some project or specific objective the donor would be helping Farm Aid (and Willie) accomplish as a tribute to Willie’s longstanding commitment to rural life and well-being.

Also, given that the video itself did not crystallize the ask, the direct link to PayPal to capture the gift meant there was no opportunity — no message platform — to reinforce the need or goal behind the ask. The viewer’s response depends totally on feeling warm about Willie. I believe a bit more motivation is needed.

Not knowing how this video was promoted or targeted, I’d suspect it would perform better as a special appeal to Farm Aid’s existing base of supporters than as a tool for attracting new interest.

Hey, Farm Aid … would love to hear the results.


P.S. Happy Birthday Willie!

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