Video Ideas for a Nonprofit: Courage to Hope

December 18, 2014

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Meryl Ayres


One in three women worldwide suffers from domestic abuse. In Ukraine, that statistic is almost doubled.

Courage to Hope is a nonprofit organization located in La Jolla, California, that aims to equip victims of domestic abuse in Ukraine with the skills and resources they need to create positive, lasting changes for themselves and their families. Working side-by-side with shelters in Ukraine, the Courage to Hope team is raising money to develop programs like computer literacy, group therapy, and manicure training.

Without a designated in-house videographer or an arsenal of fancy equipment, the Courage to Hope team has found ways to drive awareness and scale communication with video.

Telling an authentic story

The organization’s CEO, Bret Martineau, has been working in the digital marketing space for about ten years now and cannot say enough about the impact of video on their website. “We’re in a particularly unique situation,” he explained. “Our constituents are so far away, so we have to show prospective donors why they should care, why they should get involved.”

With authentic photographs, a sincere script delivered by the founder, and an evocative soundtrack, this video not only conveys a message, but also inspires action. Bret explains that it has elicited the same reaction across the board: “What can I do?”

The Courage to Hope team took the photographs featured in the video during their visit to Ukraine. “As for gathering footage — most of the women were very hesitant,” commented Bret. “We were only able to get two women to agree to be filmed, and very few women even wanted their pictures taken.” Recognizing the importance of bringing the families’ stories to life while also respecting their personal boundaries, the Courage to Hope team decided to use photographs of willing subjects for B-roll in the video.

The team also gathered pictures of general scenes in Kiev (buildings, crowds, attractive views) to provide context for their audience. “Luckily we had a professional who could see the end result while we were shooting, so he was able to piece it all together as we were doing that,” explained Bret.

The video above was produced by a friend of theirs, who happens to be a videographer. As for the music, they found the track online, reached out to the artist, and received permission to use it for free!

A DIY approach to video

For an organization like Courage to Hope, with limited expendable income, making multiple videos is dependent on keeping production costs low. That’s why Bret has produced a number of videos himself, including this recent one about a virtual 5k fundraising event.

While this video is certainly simpler and less polished than the former, it achieves its goal: to provide an explanation of the virtual event. Bret jokingly shared that he wished the audio had been better, but he still appreciates the value of a low-pressure video that takes relatively little time to shoot and share.

Although Bret is generally tech-savvy, he is relatively new to video production, so he’s always learning more tips and tricks along the way. “Sometimes I worry about being the subject of most of our videos, seeing that our organization is all about helping women,” he said. “I’m definitely looking for a new female voice to break up the monotony.” This type of consideration is valuable for any organization: it’s always wise to think about what faces are representing your company’s message and why.

Using Videoscribe for whiteboard explanations

Courage to Hope also uses video to answer frequently asked questions, such as, “Where does my money actually go?” and “How much does the Courage to Hope staff get paid?” Talk about scaling communication!

“The whiteboard videos are pretty straightforward,” commented Bret. "I’ll usually do a voiceover first, so that I can get the timing down, and then I use a software called VideoScribe to add images, text, arrows, and whatnot to visually display what I’m talking about."

Sure, Bret could have communicated all of these facts in a paragraph somewhere on their website, but simple animations like these are much more memorable. The conversational voiceover, paired with the well-paced visual assets, reinforces important information in an engaging way.

Video as a multipurpose tool

We were really excited to see all different types of videos on Courage to Hope’s website: whiteboard videos for explaining the nuts and bolts of the organization, low-pressure DIY videos for upcoming events, and more dynamic and professional videos for communicating a memorable message. With another trip to Ukraine planned for this January, the Courage to Hope team is excited to collect more footage and photographs of the progress being made. For a small nonprofit hoping to scale communication and spread awareness, video can be an extremely effective medium.

What are your company’s greatest limitations in terms of video production? Have you experimented with any low-pressure DIY videos?

Meryl Ayres


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