How to Make a Video for the Nonprofit You Love for Under $100

You work for a great organization and you want to create a compelling video to communicate your work, but where do you start? Do you need to spend a lot of money (that you don’t necessarily have) on expensive production equipment or software? Should you hire an outside company (that your organization can’t necessarily afford) to do the work for you? Luckily Benjamin Packard, Founder of Retainer Media, joined us at Foundation Center West to answer all these questions and more.

If you missed out on the lively discussion, don’t worry: We livestreamed the event! Watch the entire program or sample the highlights below:

Video is a megaphone: Your video is a tool for communication, but it may not necessarily change the game for your organization. Do good work first before you call attention to your nonprofit.

Camera: It may surprise you to learn that the quality of your video is not determined by the camera you use. Don’t let your lack of professional equipment prevent you from making a video in the first place.

The Rule (or Guideline) of Thirds: Benjamin brings in some technical advice for making your video “dynamic and interesting”.

Get Creative with Your Camera Angles: Consider what is really important. When we take photographs, we often include information that’s extraneous to the message. Legs are boring! Emotions and faces are interesting to the audience. Try an unexpected vantage point to create emotional, artistic images.

Tripod: Tripods are your friend. They keep your shot still. Many affordable options are available for iPhones and other cameras. Pro tip: If you don’t have a tripod, lean against a steady surface, such as a wall.

B-roll: B-roll is the footage you gather to play over interview subjects. It brings interest to interviews that may otherwise be just footage of a static interview subject sitting in a chair talking. The b-roll contains footage of images that are relevant to the subject of the video.

You Don’t Need Video to Make a Video: You can use photographs instead.

Audio: Have your audio-capturing device as close to the subject as possible. Benjamin suggests using a lapel mic or audio recorder to capture good audio. Also, prioritize a quiet location to capture your audio or interview subject.

Music: Helpful tips for what music to choose, including resources for finding music to license, for your video are mentioned.

Content: What makes a great video? This is the tough part. Benjamin shares some characteristics for what to include to create a compelling video.

Distribution: Tips for sharing or getting others to share your video are covered.

Criticism and Feedback: If you make a video, you're putting your blood, sweat, and tears into it, so you’re emotionally attached. It’s important to find someone to be honest with you about improving the product. Show your video to five different, objective, people (i.e., not your mom) and look for trends in their feedback.

Of course, these are just the highlights of what was covered during the program. Watch the workshop in its entirety online at GrantSpace for even more do-it-yourself tips on how to make a great video for your nonprofit without breaking the bank.

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NATASHA ISAJLOVIC, Lead of Foundation Center West, is responsible for public services and programming in the San Francisco office. Prior to joining the San Francisco team, Natasha worked for Fine Arts Museums San Francisco, Stanford Health Library, and Golden Gate University. Both her Master's degree in Library and Information Science and Bachelor's degree in Visual Arts and English Language and Literature were acquired at Western University. Natasha spends her time away from Foundation Center cooking, travelling, reading, and trying to surf.