Part 2 - Tips for Thoughtful Videos - Hard, Soft, and Passive

Last time, we discussed the types of videos you might want to use to promote your cause and your fundraising campaign. Videos are powerful tools that can really help tell your story to prospective donors. They can also be embarrassing displays of hubris that will turn off - well anyone.   In this post, we are looking at the three basic types of videos you might create.  

 Some Specifics 

Hard Ask

The Hard Ask is the simplest. A spokesperson for the organization looks directly into the camera and says why they believe in the organization and ask the viewer to support the organization. If you decide to do this type you probably have a good deal riding on its success. First these are the shortest of the three types. It is ideally about two - three minutes long. If you can’t make an “ask” in that timeframe you might want to move to a different type. Also, make sure that the spokesperson you use has a strong voice and steady gaze. A display of confidence is key to the Hard Ask.

Soft Ask

The Soft Ask uses photos related to your cause and a voice over that tells a story and implies that more needs to be done. Five minutes is a good length for the "Soft Ask." This type of video needs intriguing story telling and must be visually appealing. Also, studies have shown that positive images tend to do better than negative images.

The one exception seems to be animal causes.  At least, it seems that way considering the number of late night and cable commercials for these causes that have slow motion video and distressed sounding voice overs.  Before you go in the sad/negative direction, I would strongly recommend that you think carefully about how your audience sees your organization and cause. The sad/negative video can backfire on you. A positive approach is much safer and is a proven effective approach.

Passive Ask 

The Passive Ask can use either of the two previous approaches there is just no “ask” built into the voiceover or personal pitch. The point is to connect on a “personal” level with the viewer usually using a combination of photos and video. It too needs a strong voiceover. So where is the “ask”? It should be the final image of the video. Usually, a stagnant slide with a call to action.  Something like - "To learn more and to show your support please visit us at -"

There should always be a call to action at the end of the video. Ideally, the call to action will take the form of a web address or hyperlink built into your video that does directly to a donation page. It should be the final image of the video. Usually, a stagnant slide with a call to action.  Something like - "To learn more and to show your support please visit us at -"

You might also create an annotation (or bubble) on your video that includes text and a link. These can be created with your video or through video sites like YouTube.

No matter the type of video there should always be a call to action at the end of the video. No matter how you do it just make sure the donation process is clear and easy to use.  If it isn't then you have wasted your time and that of your prospect.


If you want to see what might be considered embarrassing videos the best way is to search Youtube and Vimeo for non-profit videos. Also check out other organizations that are similar to yours and see what type of videos they are posting.  I would love to post the good, bad and the just plain ugly but that wouldn't be thoughtful. Besides I like having friends in the field - SMILE.

Reply to Reader Comments

I received lots of feedback and questions on the last post, but the main things readers wanted to know were about cost and quality.  At first, you might think these two issues are both the same. Well, they can be, obviously the easiest way to create a great video is to hire a video company to do your videos for you.  Now this option can have lots of pluses;  less of your time needed, greater quality, and advice from an expert.  Of course, the cost can be prohibitive, every iteration of your video will be a new investment, and turnaround can be slow.  

So what other option do you have?  Though I am not a fan of pro bono work, I have seen excellent work done by board members and volunteers. Also, there are a number of ways to make a great video using software that you probably already have on your computer.  PowerPoint and iMovie are your two best options. For a simple video made up of stagnant images, PowerPoint is great.  You can add transitions from image to image and an audio track.  A history video or yearly recap are good choices for this method.  You can also add a movie to your video.  Once you create the PowerPoint you can save it into multiple formats including ones that work great on YouTube and ones that can be embedded in your website. IMovie on the Apple platform is a more advanced program but one you can use to create a professional looking video.

Surprisingly, with a smartphone, a video editing program like IMovie and some patience you could create a pretty slick video. 

Also, there is always a question about how long a video ought to be. This article from the article share section of this site - The Optimal Length of Every Social Media Update and More. This a great article on hoe long just about everything in social media.

Please leave more comments and maybe we will do another post on videos.  If nothing else I will probably do a mini post on video hosting. You can find the mini post on the home page of this blog.


{jcomments on}

Something simple like "To learn more and to show your support, please visit our website -"