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How to increase donors, dollars, and major gift prospects with video

The wealthiest donors and prospects in your organization want more video from the brands they follow. (And your institution or nonprofit is a “brand!”). Check out the following statistics from Idomoo’s 2023 State of Video Technology report that surveyed more than 2,000 individuals:

  • 81 percent of consumers want brands who communicate with them to use more video – that number jumps to 89 percent when the respondent is a high income earner

  • Yet 70 percent say they rarely or never receive video from brands


When asked if they want to see more video from brands, the vast majority said “yes,” especially those at the top of the income pyramid:

  • 90 percent of high incomes earners like receiving video from brands

  • 86 percent of millennials like receiving video from brands

  • 82 percent of all respondents said they like receiving video from brands

You read that right – video is MORE important for the major donors and prospects to your organization than it is for millennials.

 

Simply holding a diploma is no longer enough to compel giving from alumni. We must continually inspire and re-inspire giving at all levels through the best, most scalable means possible. We have to focus on “storytelling” or marketing at all levels, not just for the small-gift annual fund donor, but also for the major gift prospects. Using video to reach all your audiences will have a positive impact, from the annual fund mailer to the gift officer meeting request. 


So let’s dive into how video can increase your donor pipeline and lead to more successful mid-level and major giving outcomes.


Use paid digital advertising to ensure donors and prospects watch your video


There’s a reason why luxury car brands invest hundreds of millions of dollars in television ad spend every year – high income individuals are watching and responding to that video content. As the above statistics represent, the same is true of online video.


To get more marketing video that promotes your mission in front of your most capable supporters, use prospect lists to create audiences on networks like Meta (Facebook and Instagram). Then consult with whatever interests or behavioral data you have on the individuals in those audiences. Use that behavioral data to create content that matches the interests of your major donors and prospects, then ensure they see that content with a smart digital advertising campaign.


This targeted video will connect with and warm your most capable donor or alumni audiences, without being intrusive, because those major donors and prospects will come across the video in their newsfeeds, when they’re scrolling during downtime. (No need for an email open or QR scan for the video to reach its mark)


Donor warming is important at all levels. Your gift officers will thank you as meetings and gift agreements become more frequent thanks to the video marketing work that primed the prospects before and after initial outreach.


Use personalized video to elevate prospects through the pipeline


According to the same State of Video Technology report, personally interacting with customers via video is nearly 4 times more likely to increase loyalty and brand trust. This is where Digital Development Officers or well-trained students can significantly increase pipeline activity at the base and mid levels.


Go beyond the “student webcam video” and empower your students or leadership annual gift officers to produce deeply personalized content. It’s not just about saying someone’s name at the start of a video, it’s about showing donors and prospects behind the scenes views of the areas of campus about which they care about the most.


Athletics donor? Show them a tour of the athletics training facilities.


Research donor? Take them on a tour of a lab, project, or program that only the researchers have witnessed before video made it accessible to donors and prospects.


Student support donor? Give them an authentic look into the most popular events on campus.


Good authentic video programs open a window into your organization that cannot be accomplished through any other means. Keep donors and prospects informed and inspired by training your team to be authentic video ambassadors. 


Share donor stories over video


After that you’ve provided video production training for students and mid-level gift officers, turn them into reporters who can identify and highlight the best, most compelling donor stories. You’ll find this not only inspires others to give, but the donor being interviewed often feels more connected to the institution as a volunteer video spokesperson. (We’ve often experienced that phenomenon with firstname.co’s authentic video storytellers)


Investing in authentic video brings about the best ROI


Nothing drives engagement like firstname.co authentic student video. During a 2021 A/B test with a firstname.co client, authentic student video was watched to completion 2,925 times. Another video in the same campaign, more highly produced and featuring the chancellor, was watched to completion only 54 times. That’s a 54x difference in the engagement rate favoring the firstname.co authentic student video over more typical, high-production-value university content. 

More importantly, the above A/B test example led to a more than 200 percent increase in donors to the campaign that the video was promoting (from 1,000 to 3,400 unique donors). As we’ve outlined in this piece, video is even more effective when aimed at high income audiences. That means, while video is an investment, the return on video spending leads to incredible ROI, especially when major donors and prospects are involved because the larger gifts apply a multiplier to the return. 


For too long, authentic video has been positioned as a tool of the annual fund, great for crowdfunding and giving days, but not for major gift work. Evidence shows the opposite is true. In 2024 and beyond, increase your video marketing at all levels of the giving pyramid – with students producing authentic (but not amateur!) content – and watch as your revenue goes up along with your donor counts.


firstname.co is the industry leader in authentic student video ambassador programs. Click here to learn how we can build a program for your college, university, or nonprofit.

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