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Video continues to prove itself as a powerful motivator of human behavior. And because philanthropy is most certainly a human behavior, many of Groundwork Digital’s nonprofit partners have enjoyed substantial fundraising success thanks to robust, video-driven campaigns.

Click here for a couple of case studies to substantiate our claim above.

Of course, it’s not as simple as “point, shoot, and fundraise!” Video requires creativity, integration with other tactics (such as peer-to-peer, online ambassador fundraising), and experienced fundraising strategy. Read on to discover tactics for using video to elevate modern fundraising tactics…

Make video a cornerstone of your online ambassador engagement and deployment.

Mass ambassador programs, though the concept is less than 10 years old, have become archaic. There is little harm in occasionally emailing thousands of your supporters, asking them to share content on your behalf, but that is no longer a sufficient online ambassador strategy.

For modern online ambassador success, you must find and nurture your top, most influential online ambassadors.

One example is the Groundwork Digital “Student Content Team.” With the SCT, we are hiring charismatic, digitally-savvy students who are coached and guided to become the face of philanthropy for higher education institutions (the same can be done with top volunteers for all other nonprofits that don’t have “students”) Over time, your online audience will come to know this small group of students by name, because the SCT is built around frequent (once per week, minimum) video content produced with and by the students.

And here’s the thing – two primary factors drive online engagement – familiarity with the person engaging you and demonstrating the impact of giving.

Click here for a case study from the University of Idaho that shows how this student-video-driven approach drives massive, 70%+ email open rates.

Make donors the star of the show

In late 2013, while I was with Bentz Whaley Flessner, we launched a campaign with the Miami Children’s Hospital team (now the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital). The campaign was built around the generosity and online personality of a major donor who was also an online ambassador. Following this donor’s trek through the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe, the Miami Children’s team was able to package the content and build a compelling campaign that delivered the following…

  • $1.4 million raised
    • $1.2 million from the major donor ambassador’s networks (mostly offline, but inspired by the online campaign)
    • $200,000 in small gifts from the crowd (almost entirely online)
  • A thrilling experience for a critically important supporter of the hospital who was featured in the high visibility campaign

After this “major donor microsite” campaign, we knew we were on to something. Many years later, in several different roles, I’ve watched as our client partners have enjoyed similar success. Whether a true major donor effort or something more focused on leadership annual giving, Groundwork’s partners continue to see enormous success with this “major donor microsite” approach to digital, online ambassador fundraising.

The microsites don’t just raise big dollars, but also help uncover more high capacity donors. In nearly every major/leadership donor microsite project in which we’ve been involved, new major gift prospects made their first gifts to the institution through those campaigns. Simply put, the major donor microsite is one of the most important strategies you can add to a modern development program.

The above examples represent the maturation of multiple concepts – peer-to-peer, video, multi-channel, and digital engagement of top donors. When isolated, those tactics can struggle. But when woven together, these tactics are a proven method for modern fundraising.

About the author – Justin Ware is the President and Co-Founder of Groundwork Digital, a digital fundraising agency that helps nonprofits grow their video-driven donor engagement strategies.

Katie Haystead

Katie Haystead

Senior Vice President, Partnerships

With over a decade of experience working with K12 schools and higher education institutions’ fundraising efforts, Katie Haystead now oversees the partnerships team at Community Funded. Her passion for partner success and satisfaction aligns with Community Funded’s priorities and Katie’s unique background is well suited to manage the day to day operations of our partnerships team as well as new market acquisition.

Prior to joining the team at Community Funded, Katie served many roles within the Fundraising Division at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Her experience ranges from working onsite and remotely with clients executing phonathon programs, developing annual giving strategies, onsite consultations and also developing multichannel strategies allowing for strong synergy between annual giving channels and creating strong major and planned gift pipelines.

Katie is based in Metro Detroit and is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she worked for the phonathon for 3 years while working towards her History Major.

Kim Jennings

Kim Jennings

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Kim Jennings, CFRE is a skilled fundraising leader who believes in the power of Christian education to raise up thoughtful, strong, committed leaders who can make our world a better place for all.

Kim Jennings

Todd Turner

Director of Digital Strategies, Generis

In addition to his 11 years overseeing Chuck Swindoll’s Insight Living Ministries communications department, Todd Turner has worked as a digital strategist for faith based organizations across the globe..

Kim Jennings

Jennifer Perrow

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Jennifer is a skilled fundraising and communications professional who helps ministries articulate vision, communicate mission, and raise abundant funds to advance Kingdom priorities.