In case you missed it during the pre-Thanksgiving crush, here's a superb report (free link) on nonprofits' use of online video by Peter Panepeto of the Chronicle of Philanthropy (Nov 15).

Peter provides examples, with links to the videos, from the American Jewish World Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the March of Dimes and others. None of these appear to be fundraising grand slams. They belong more in the category of essential experimentation in awareness building, outreach to non-traditional audiences, member/donor engagement, and volunteer/staff training.

As Peter points out, YouTube alone, with 59 million visitors/month, but also 10,000 hours of new video per day, represents a sort of Mount Everest of online video. Lots of eyeballs, but lots of competition too.

That said, the VFW managed to produce a video that reached #17 on the YouTube most-watched list. And YouTube is working to nurture a special charities domain within its service, which IMHO, a nonprofit would need to be absolutely foolish not to experiment with.

According to Peter — and I'll second his observation — many in the nonprofit world believe “online video is the next major trend in charity communications.”

Happily, often what works best is shockingly inexpensive. For a couple of thousand dollars, a nonprofit can begin a process of “continuous documentation” of its work, the people it helps, its success stories, its satisfied donors. Do it!

Is online video a panacea … will it put you on the fast track to fundraising glory? In most cases, not yet. Remember the competition from skateboarding dogs is pretty fierce!

But can you produce worthwhile results? Absolutely. Especially if you have an eye and ear for good storytelling.

Here's my favorite of the videos Peter reported on … Ezekiel's Story, from the March of Dimes. Now watched by almost 214,000 viewers. And inspiration for about 600 other stories, including many with videos and pictures.

Not bad!

Tom

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