The NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) is running an online advocacy campaign to save the Artic Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling. The core of the campaign is a video of Robert Redford, hosted on YouTube, but available on their action pages.
I just had a conversation about this with Madeline Stanionis. Madline wrote THE BOOK on online fundraising. She is an amazing mix of someone very creative, but with a hard-nosed focus on outcomes. Her main question is, does it work? Of course the answer is in defining “work.” It would be easy to test conversation ratios with or without video, or compare amounts donated, with or without video – or with different types of video. (NRDC says 50,000 people have passed this video onto their friends.) On the other hand, the issues of branding, exposure, cultural change, and sowing the seeds of future supporters, are much harder to measure, and a big part of what video is doing online.
While all the numbers aren’t in on direct response video, what we do know right now is that video is increasingly important to have for many other reasons. Just like a website without decent photos would not be OK for an organization today, a nonprofit website without video will not be OK a year from now, when people have the expectation to see and hear what you do.