I was working on a brand new resource guide about practical steps you could take today to raise more money and build your donor file when Brad Voigt threw a curve ball. I asked him to review what I was making and shoot me some feedback. Here’s what he said:

In my situation, I’m a non-profit of one staff member and I have to bootstrap everything in regards to budget. Do you think the context works for both big and small? Or, is your target audience for a non-profit that is self-contained to a local community and probably has a 10 to 50 staff members?
As soon as you mention multiple cameras for a welcome video (Yeah A and B roll), I’m already quitting because I can’t afford more than my iPhone to shoot a video. Nor do I have a second staff person to hit the record button and then I get annoyed because of the amount of editing I’m going to have to do of me shooting a video multiple times because I didn’t stand in the right place.
I guess I’m asking is this scalable? Or, would that lose the impact of the info?
First the good news. I’ve worked with nonprofits both large and small and they all need to do the steps in my guide. They’re principles of relationship building and starting a funnel to bring viewers and lurkers to becoming donors.
But the big piece was the welcome video. I could talk video almost all day so it didn’t really work in a small section in a 20-page guide/teaser of my upcoming book entitled… well, I’m still working on that…
To get right to Brad’s point, you can shoot a welcome video on an iPhone. And it can look incredible there are, however, some extra pieces to be mindful of when shooting on the uber-micro/zero budget department. Here’s what I’d do… and I’ll probably get in trouble for it.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • An iPhone
I’m going to choose the iPhone 7s Plus because the camera is better on the depth of field (i.e. Better picture) and you can go crazy and shoot at 4K resolution (although you really don’t need to).
  • An event

Nothing crazy but some sort of activity that shows you or your organization in the community doing the thing that you do.

  • An Assistant

Someone to hold the camera. Or a tripod. Or both. You can’t do everything.

  • The Voice Memo App

It comes with your iPhone or I’m sure there are other options if you’re going to use a Google/Amazon/Microsoft phone.

  • Video Editing Software

You’ll need a version of something. Microsoft Movie Maker, iMovie, and a slew of others. I’m a fan of Adobe Premiere Pro but there’s a $50 monthly charge to use it.

Here’s how it goes down.

Fade In: (Have your friend or tripod film you talking to the camera. Don’t be too far away because the microphone is going to be an issue. Make sure there aren’t crazy winds and err on the side of being too close to the camera. It’ll pay off I promise. )

“Hi ______ put your name here______ and I’m the ___say your title____ at _____name of your organization__. I want to tell you why we fight __issue that you fight___.”

Don’t move the camera just yet. Now also film a send-off or an ask or a thank you. But make it the same exact shot.

“Thanks for watching us and if you’d like to join us in the fight against _________. Please click the link below or contact me directly at __your phone number___.”

This is where the magic happens. You’re going to cut away from your opening and then go to voice over. You’ll need a script for the rest but it could look a little something like this. For this part, you’ll need the Voice Memo app. For the sake of sounding the same, it’s best to record this in approximately the same setting where you shot the video. The ambient noise/room tone will be the same.

So then turn on the recorder and read your script. My brother Joe told me when he was at XM Radio in the early 2000’s that a well accomplished Dj told him that, “Read the copy until the idiot in the mirror understands it.” Go over your script at least 5 -6 times. I’d recommend closer to 10. Make sure it sounds the way you talk and that you’re not trying to put together huge words that twist your tongue all around. Your script should be somewhere in the 90-second range. Yes. 90 Seconds. NO MORE! Once we tag on the opener and the closer plus links. You’ll be at 2:20ish and that’s a great place to be.

Something like:

“Since 1978 we’ve been first to fend off babies from dingoes. There have been attacks, yes, but a baby hasn’t been eaten by a dingo while we’ve been monitoring the Australian desert. Funny story, I got started with this organization because I was saved from being eaten by a dingo. This issue is personal to me, since we later lost my brother to a dingo and I don’t want to see another family go through that kind of pain. We can use your help at our annual “Sweep the Desert Event’ where we’re searching for babies that have been discarded.”

The point is to give some info on your organization and why it matters to you. As the storyteller of your organization, we, as the viewer, will trust your opinion on this issue. We’re new to the issue but you’re working full-time on this issue. Flex your muscle a little. It’s ok.

Next, you’ll take all of that footage and audio piece and load it into your computer. You’ll also need some footage (a.k.a. B-roll) of you doing your job. That might be talking to people, working at a computer, being in the community, at an event, hosting an event – there aren’t any rules on this just you and your staff, volunteers working for your organization. You’ll also want to have some footage of the people, wildlife, or whoever you serve. Photos can also work but video always pops more.

Here’s a key – When your assistant or yourself is filming this B-roll. hold the camera steady for 6 seconds. Most shots will be 4 seconds or so but by getting 6 seconds, you get some handles in editing to make a better choice.

This would be the minimum to make a welcome video and truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend this because a video is like a handshake, a business card, or a billboard. Spend the money and make a good impression. If you don’t have the cash, do something that works for now but look to upgrade your video quickly.

What should your video cover?

  • It should feel like the best version of your organization.
  • It should reflect the DNA of your organization visually.
  • It leaves the viewer with a positive feeling.
  • An invitation to the audience to get involved.

Some additional thoughts

Many times an organization wants their video to welcome people and also to tell of a capital campaign and highlight a particular program and encourage volunteers and show their accolades. And. And. And. A video can’t do more than a couple of things. Think about your average commercial. It’s disruptive, a simple message, and then it’s over.

Usually, the reason for this is due to senior staff not feeling comfortable about shelling out serious money for a video, so they’re looking for a high return on investment. This is counterintuitive, I know but believe me, it works.

Too many messages will destroy your video.

If you need a video that does multiple things, think about it as multiple videos and get specific with your script.

What do great welcome videos include?

  • A place for the viewer to imagine being involved.
  • Motion Graphics
  • Colors and graphics that are also found elsewhere on your website and brochures.
  • An excellent sound mix
  • Bright smiles,
  • Camera movement

What should your welcome video not contain?

  • Guilt
  • Sad piano music – This is the first idea that anyone has when thinking about making a video that will get an emotional response.
  • Black and White Photos – Followed quickly by this gem of an idea
  • More Guilt
  • People Crying – Unless it’s someone who has been helped by your organization, and even then, be careful.
  • The big pop song on the radio right now – If you have permission, great. But most likely you don’t. Make sure you pay artists for their work.

Welcome videos can also pull double duty.

Play them at events or on a loop when your organization is out in the community.


Final Thought: Put money into your videos, if you can. The big campaigns do and they usually shine.