“So tell me, what’s really working well for fundraising with video right now?”
The video is dropping frames at the end – it’s not your computer.


Somebody asked me this morning, what kind of films are working really well for charity fundraising right now, and I have to be honest and say that at that moment my heart sank a little bit, because I suppose like most people I feel more confident when I am talking from a place of certainty and right now there is so much that is uncertain.

That’s only compounded by the fact that many charities, for good and valid reasons, keep their results very close to their chest, so often we only hear about the breakout successes and not about the presumably more common situation where things work reasonably well, or even very well.

DRTV is still chugging away, the workhorse of recruitment, but there’s this tension now between the old formula which works but seems increasingly tired and is maybe not chiming so well with charities wishing to focus more on more positive messaging. Of course the way people interact with TV at all has completely changed over the last couple of years, and the effect is only increasing. Personally I almost never see any TV advertising unless I specifically go looking for it. And I suspect many of you are probably in the same boat.

And of course that raises the question of how do we fundraise using film and video on social media? How are the messages there different? What will people watch, what will they engage with? We’ve just this week put out proposals for sub-60 second social media recruitment pieces, but I’ve also recently learned that Facebook has ambitions to become a ‘watch’ channel and that the algorithm will tend to favour a longer form video. So yes, a space of great uncertainty.

I don’t think anybody has it nailed down yet and that’s not a comfortable place for anyone. But there are some things we do know: we know that storytelling is really the only effective way to ask people to support a cause, because it engages emotions and that’s how decisions are made; we know that really good creative can amplify the effect of storytelling and make it even more memorable; and of course, we know and remember the basic tenets of good fundraising: know what motivates your donor, have a clear case for support – a really compelling proposition, deliver it via a strong story, and finish with a clear and congruent call to action.

It’s an interesting conversation for sure, even though as I’ve probably said several times now, it’s much more comfortable to be certain, we’re only going to gain clarity by pursuing new thinking about this. And if I happen to stumble across those certainties and insights that will change the whole industry you can be sure I will share them with you here first. Have a good weekend.