MTV spoke volumes when the first video it played was for the song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” These days video is making another big splash – online. And non profits should start filming!

Video might not kill a non profit’s printed annual report or newsletter, but it should definitely enrich tried and true marketing, communications, and fundraising channels. I applaud any group that is using video. Some non profits have been ahead of the curve, putting video to work for them. Here are some of my recent favorites – each with a different goal, style, and creative angle.

The International Rescue Committee

IRC’s Emily Holland went to Darfur for two months. And through her powerful videos, she tells the story of Darfuri children, women and men struggling to survive and how her organization is on the ground helping. Emily blogged about her experiences throughout her trip, posting videos and photos telling her story.

What I like? This series shows that IRC is on the ground in a conflict zone helping people. What a concept! The original footage is compelling, Emily’s perspective and voice are authentic, and she takes us along on her journey.

The League of Young Voters – Are you the movement?

I’m the audience for this video – and I loved it. I saw people who I can relate to talking to me about why they are involved with the organization, why its unique and why they not only take action, but support it financially. The authentic peer-to-peer angle is a great way to get people my age to engage. Why write off 20-somethings as the “dreaded non donors” when you can connect to them with a fundraising message that resonates?

Amnesty International – Holiday Wishes

What is Amnesty’s greatest strength? It’s activists! And the staff and volunteers and Amnesty sure make a point to let their activists know how important they are in this video they released last December. Yeah – it’s not recent. But I included it because we so often forget to thank our supporters and activists and this is a low-budget, heartfelt way to do so.

There are many more examples of non profit videos I like. But in the interest of time, I’ll leave you with this food for thought:

1. Don’t be long-winded – The online world is fleeting – get your message across in 30 seconds – 2 minutes.
2. It doesn’t have to look expensive – a nice-on the-budget, do-it-yourself video is completely acceptable.
3. Humor is hard for most non profits to do. If you go for funny, go all out.
4. Buy a video camera, start filming, and start a video library.
5. Everybody wants a viral video. And while viral is great – it’s hard to hit that jack pot. Keep dreaming the viral dream, and in the meantime start producing some good video content and promoting it.