Emotional appeal key in fundraising

By Lou Amico

Competing with small staffs and limited face time with decision-makers, nonprofits need a tool that can quickly and effectively capture exactly what they do and what they need in a timely manner.

Video can be extremely effective for fundraising. Strong, story-based video presentations help evoke emotion by putting a face to the cause, capture the mission of the nonprofit and the need for funds to meet the mission.

While they raise money for worthy causes and have the statistics to support the need for funding, charitable organizations that successfully move their mission forward are those that appeal to their donors’ emotions and thus their wallets.

To ensure a valuable presentation that helps raise funds for your organization, you should:

* Keep it short. People have limited capacity to comprehend new information. With busy lifestyles, your audience usually can pay attention for only short periods of time before they begin to tune out. A good, cost-effective video lasts three to five minutes and concentrates on the need and what the audience can do to help.

* Tell a good story.  Use a real story and real people to capture the purpose and need of your nonprofit.  Recipients of your organization’s good will are your best storytellers and will evoke emotion from your audience. Avoid hosts or paid talent not connected to the organization. The story should be concise and focused, and captures not only the content of the message, but also its meaning and emotion, and transform it into an experience for the audience. Touch their hearts and their wallet will follow.

* Remember who you’re talking to. Keep your target audience in mind and deliver information in a way they are most likely to use, understand and retain. Avoid technical medical terms and acronyms.

* Quality counts. It’s important to produce a professional-looking video if you are trying to project a professional image. Proper scripting, lighting and appropriate music help emphasize the positive impact. Clear and useful graphic titles will enhance comprehension, while detailed text and complex diagrams are hard to read in a video and will detract from its value as a communication tool.

The use of multimedia can help nonprofits tell their story or the stories of their benefactors in an effective way that differentiates them from other organizations soliciting dollars.

If properly designed, the video or segments of it can be used for other projects or viewed on your website.

Quality presentations can be extremely effective in helping raise the critical dollars needed to further your organization’s message and allow the donors to feel good about the money they contribute toward your mission.


Lou Amico is founder and president of LA Management Company, a multi-media marketing firm.

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