More than half of the content on the Internet today is video. If your nonprofit isn’t already using video to tell your story, you should be! Video is not only great for your fundraising efforts, it can also be used for marketing and awareness, member development and relations, and advocacy. Video storytelling engages viewers and cultivates a connection that’s more likely to lead to them contributing to your cause. Videos reach your audience in deeper ways by conveying powerful, emotion-filled messages through the stories of the people your organization is helping. Even if you don’t have the budget for a fancy camera, you can still produce great content with just your smartphone. So no matter your expertise or resources, it’s time to start creating impactful stories through video! But before you pick up your camera, make sure to plan ahead. Here are six tips to help you get started creating your video:

1. Outline your goals

What do you want to use your video for? How will you measure success? Start off by answering these key planning questions. Whether you want to raise a certain amount of money, increase membership or attendance, promote an event, or inform people of your mission, you need to know what you want to do and how you’re going to measure success. There’s no reason that you can’t use your video to do more than one of these, but be sure to outline your goals before you begin filming, or else your content will be disorganized.

2. Identify your audience

Who are you trying to reach? How are you going to reach your audience? What action do you want them to take? Make sure you identify your target audience up front, because your video will use a different tone for different audiences. Variables like age, geographic area and other demographics along with your planned distribution and expected outcome will influence the way you deliver your message.

3. Decide what story you want to tell

What message do you want to send? Who represents your work? What makes you different? If you’re ready to create a video, you probably already have someone in mind whose story you’d like to tell. However, think small to avoid getting caught up in trying to convey all aspects of that person’s life. Aim to create a short, 3-5 minute video that tells a personal anecdote. Stories can memorialize someone, detail a personal journey of recovery or discovery, share people’s experiences in learning or overcoming challenges, highlight accomplishments, or talk about important places or things. Regardless of your ultimate goal, it’s important for your video to get exposure. Creating something inspirational that connects with your audience is more likely to generate a positive response. Incorporate personal touches or funny segments to encourage viewers to share your video.

4. Prep your equipment

To create a video, you’ll need to purchase or borrow some equipment. You’ll need a video recording device, such as a handheld camera or a smartphone. You’ll also need a desktop computer or laptop and video editing software, such as Apple iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, or a more complex program like Adobe Premiere. You may also need a scanner if you’d like to incorporate any photos or images that aren’t already digitized.

5. Write your script

Before filming, draft a short script. Be sure to go beyond images and music to incorporate a personal voice into your video. Viewers want to hear the story from the voice of the person telling it, so create the video from their perspective. Try to keep it genuine and authentic so you can reach an emotional depth with your audience. Keep in mind that longer isn’t always better. A few words and key images can make a powerful impression.

6. Create a storyboard

Plot out the sequence of events in your video on a storyboard. Figure out how your visual segments will align with your audio, such as voice-overs, on-camera speaking, music, etc. A storyboard will help you to plan time and interaction, so you know what happens in what order, and how all of your video’s elements come together.

Visit the links below for examples and resources to get you started with your video —

The Best of Non-Profit Video Storytelling

Resources for Digital Storytelling with Video

Storyboard Templates