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Tugging at Heartstrings:  Showcasing Your Nonprofit Mission Through An Emotional Video

Tugging at Heartstrings: Showcasing Your Nonprofit Mission Through An Emotional Video

If you’re a non-profit organization, you understand the importance of sparking an emotional connection with audiences more than most types of institutions. Now more than ever, non-profit organizations realize how video storytelling can help you to reconnect and engage with donors, partners, volunteers, and communities you serve.

Your mission drives the work you do every day, so making a video about it should be easy, right? Alas, as many nonprofits quickly learn, making an effective emotional video is not as simple as it sounds.

If you’ve never produced a video, here are several tips for striking the desired emotional tone in a moving, meaningful way.

Start with the Positive Impact You Are Making

Even the most expensive and compelling video can fall flat if your story fails to showcase your work in a way that feels sincere. 

Kindling positive emotions like happiness, joy, delight, and love help people understand how your organization makes a positive impact in the world. This is a critical step in starting a relationship with your viewer and building trust. Once you have established these positive associations, you can move to deeper emotions around the conflict, the problem to be solved, and how the viewer can help.

Watch this video, ‘What Home Means For Me’ by Catholic Charities, and notice how the mission positively inspires you, the audience, while clearly highlighting challenges faced by the community they serve.

Let Your Community Do the Talking

One mistake organizations frequently make is opting for professional voice talent and third-party endorsements in an attempt to appear polished. However, in doing so, the video comes across as feeling stuffy, contrived, and removed from your cause. Instead, we recommend letting the ‘voice’ of your video be someone within the community or cause you serve. In the eyes of your viewers, this person’s voice is the only endorsement that truly matters.

For example, in this video project, the Godina Family explains how the Aim Higher Foundation has supported them by helping them to give their girls the best education possible.


Production tip: Using the “direct address” approach where your subjects speak directly and make eye contact with the camera is the best way to hold viewers’ attention.

Keep it Simple

The old chestnut that ‘actions speak louder than words’ is never truer than in the world of video. From scripting to editing, simplicity is an emotional video virtue: anything that doesn't clearly and concisely convey your core mission is a potential distraction for your audience.

For an example of simple video production that has a big impact, watch the video we produced for Catholic Charities’ 2020 Hope in Action event. One of the most powerful aspects of this video is that the call to action isn't just about money. It’s about educating the audience about the issues Catholic Charities addresses, motivating viewers to care about them, and sharing ways to be part of the solution that aren't just donating.

Once you’ve focused your audience’s attention on the key message, you can magnify emotional weight through production choices like zooming in and using close-ups to highlight key details your viewer needs to understand. This video we produced for Eden Prairie Schools is a great example, featuring tight shots that focus on kindergarteners' hands at work, moving to high schoolers, and culminating in turning the tassel at graduation. (Check out how we applied this principle in this video about Eden Prairie Schools kindergarteners.)

Share Your Story

Your nonprofit is already out there doing amazing work. If you keep these tips in mind as you create your next video, your story can connect on an emotional level to drive action from your audiences and stakeholders.

click here to find out how much a video shoot costs

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