Emotional storytelling increases giving to nonprofits in a huge way. Because empathy is an incredible motivator, we get interested when we share in the pain and misfortunes of others. We put ourselves into their shoes and when empathy kicks in, we can feel their pain. When just listening to someone’s story, we can get distracted and may lose focus. This is where visual storytelling with sound and moving pictures is very effective in connecting with people. If you’re a non-profit group trying to raise money for a capital campaign or big initiative, this works well.
We recently used emotional storytelling to help a non-profit medical center to fund building out a new department and outfit a new wing. The technique is straight forward. Because of the way it’s executed helps in it’s effectiveness, an experienced production team working with a willing client makes for many wins on many fronts.
Emotional storytelling needs willing participants
Finding willing participants who believe in the cause and have been positively affected by the organization is a good start. Although, this is usually done by the non-profit. They can look at past clients or in this case patients to see if any of them are a good fit. Targeting someone who is grateful for the organization and is better off because of it makes a good candidate. Never the less, on the production side, an empathetic director experienced in interviewing subjects about deeply personal experiences is without a doubt high on the list. As well as a tight crew with experience and multiple cameras.
How would you feel sharing details of a life-threatening experience to a group of strangers? It can be uncomfortable. This is why prepping the subject before the session is very important. Stick to their story, don’t give them too much behind the scenes details as it might get into their head and make them even more nervous.
After softening up the subject and sharing with them what’s expected:
Make sure to keep a calm demeanor
Use comfortable surroundings
Make sure your camera crew is low key
With all of this, you should be able to record a good conversation.
Ideally, if it’s in the budget…
If it’s in the budget, another day of production for B’roll, adds to the final story. Going to the scene of an incident, or showing small details or reenactments can give context to the story. This conveys the help the subject is getting from your organization. At the very least, you can edit high quality still images into the story. This will do a similar thing, but live action video if possible is best.
After your editor has a rough cut of the story from the raw footage get your production company to give you a transcript. This will have all the raw footage to compare to the rough cut. Scan the transcript to find any hidden nuggets that did not make it into the rough cut. Identify the pieces of the story that makes sense and that resonates with you. From there you can cut out the rest.
This “fine cut” should be between 3-5 minutes in length.
Adding the B’roll of live-action footage, photos or title slides brings it all together. Show it around the office for input. But be well aware of your original goal of this video. Other people may not have been involved from the beginning and may offer up suggestions that are not constructive. Smile and nod and need share with them the original goals set forth to confirm you are on point. Of course you shared these goals with your production team before shooting the video.
Add some well-curated background music and a call to action. With hard work, you will have a strong piece to show potential Donors.
In our experience…
In our experience, the cost of creating a video using emotional storytelling has increased giving for one client 40-50 fold! Needless to say, they were very happy as were we. This evergreen content can be used for years to come. As long as it’s not too specific or for a singular initiative. Increase giving to your non-profit with the help of a reputable video firm, use the video in a campaign and help more people as you grow your organization.
If you or someone you know works for a non-profit and is interested in emotional storytelling to help with your fundraising, let up know. Thanks.