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Nonprofit explainer videos: 4 tips to inspire supporters

Woman using a phone to capture video of herself talking

Picture yourself in a donor’s shoes. Let’s say you’ve been tasked with researching potential nonprofits to partner with on an upcoming funding initiative by doing some online research, using Google, Candid’s nonprofit profiles, or the like.

So, you get to work and land on one text-heavy website and another website with a prominent video that describes a nonprofit’s work, mission, and impact. Which one would you be most likely to remember when it comes time to make a recommendation?

HubSpot’s recent research helps to answer this question: branded video content is the most memorable. So when it comes to inspiring your donors to support your cause, you might consider creating a nonprofit explainer video for your organization.

What are nonprofit explainer videos?

Nonprofit explainer videos are meant to be informative and showcase your mission in a clear, concise, and engaging way. These short films, which take viewers on a journey into the specifics of your work in 90 seconds or less, have many benefits. For example when watching a video, audio and visual channels activate separate parts of the brain, and when these two elements combine, it helps supporters better understand and engage with your mission. 

However, it is also worth noting that in addition to their advantages, producing a nonprofit explainer video often comes with a price tag and can be a time-consuming process. In fact, nonprofit explainer videos with large-scale animations are often costly to create, ranging from $2,500 to $30,000+. But keep in mind that there are also free and low-fee tools that you can use to produce an explainer video on your own and at a lower cost. 

If you’re venturing into nonprofit video production for the first time, here are four expert tips for how to leverage educational videos to inspire action and create an engaging experience for viewers. 

1. Get to know your audience

The style, tone, and core message of your explainer video should be dependent on your target audience. Examine your donor database, social media channels, or even survey data to answer questions, like the following: 

  • Why is your mission relevant to your audience’s direct interests?
  • How familiar or comfortable are they with the causes or issues you address?
  • What are your audience’s key motivations for supporting your nonprofit, or nonprofits, like yours?

With these insights on your target audience, you can make informed decisions about their learning objectives and create content that inspires meaningful engagement. 

2. Craft a compelling storyline

You have a limited amount of time to introduce your nonprofit to viewers and inspire them to lend their support. To ensure your video conveys all of the necessary information in a short amount of time, I recommend adhering to this general structure:

  1. Introduce the problem. Studies show that after the first 10 seconds of a video, engagement drops significantly, which means you have a small window of opportunity to introduce the problem you’re trying to solve. Use an engaging and quick opener to convince viewers to care, for example: “More than 9 million children faced hunger in 2021. That’s one in every eight kids.” 
  2. Provide a solution. Explain how your organization’s mission is a solution for addressing the problem at hand. For instance, using the example above, you could say, “That’s why we have specialized programs to support and provide children with the food they need, when they need it most.”
  3. Explain your process. Detail the tangible steps that you take to achieve your nonprofit’s mission, so that viewers know you’re an expert in the field. 
  4. Add human interest. Show a person or group of people impacted by your organization, such as a beneficiary or donor, to share their connection to your cause. This will help viewers emotionally connect to your work.  
  5. Use a call-to-action. Always provide your audience with a clear way to support your cause by including a call-to-action at the end of your video—whether it’s through donating, volunteering, or sharing the content with their own networks.

To learn more about how to construct your nonprofit explainer video’s narrative, check out this guide to nonprofit video storytelling.

3. Prioritize imagery and narration

Rather than overwhelming your audience with on-screen text, think about using compelling visuals and narration to draw viewers into your mission-driven story. Wondering what might work best to showcase your cause? Consider the following styles of explainer videos: 

  • Animation: Use graphics and animations to communicate abstract or intangible ideas. 
  • Live action: Having a real person explain your message can help create a human connection between the viewer and your mission.
  • Screencast: Record a demonstration of your social impact-focused product or service in action, using zooming and scaling to highlight specific capabilities. 

In addition to using visuals to tell your story, consider including closed captioning, audio descriptions, and other tactics to promote accessibility and to ensure viewers can engage with your video, regardless of their visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive abilities.

4. Plan for the launch 

Some people get so excited about creating a video that they forget to plan for the launch. Avoid falling into this common trap. Instead, seek to prepare ahead of time for a successful video launch by:

  • Selecting a platform to host your video: YouTube is the most popular platform for video promotion because it’s free and includes built-in analytics for tracking engagement. Regardless of the platform you chose, be sure to post content to the site and share the link across your marketing channels. 
  • Having a multichannel marketing plan: Marketing experts recommend a multichannel marketing approach to sharing video content. Leverage your website, newsletter, social media channels, and email campaigns to reach as many supporters as possible. Just remember to tailor your content to each channel. For example, an explainer video going on Instagram should be condensed to one minute or less, as short-form content performs better on that platform. 
  • Collecting metrics to determine success: Most video platforms allow you to track and analyze audience behaviors, including views, watch time, and percent completion. After creating an explainer video, choose the metrics you want to track in advance in order to determine whether the video meets your organization’s goals and objectives. 

Although creating nonprofit explainer videos can be time-consuming and expensive to create, it’s also worth weighing how they might be able to help your nonprofit succeed. With the right content and promotional plan, your nonprofit explainer video can inspire donors to support your nonprofit and drive meaningful results for your cause. 

Lastly, if you don’t want to go at it alone and have the budget necessary to create a compelling, production-quality explainer video, you can also consider working with a dedicated nonprofit video production company.


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  • Ginny Albert says:

    January 14, 2023 12:08 pm

    After Covid-19 literally shut us down, this is a great way to begin afresh. Many Thanks!

    Ginny Albert
    Founder & CEO
    Senior Innovations
    (678) 298-8235

  • Christopher Kenney says:

    December 12, 2022 6:19 pm

    I donated to Madonna's Malawi Africa project and Malawi Indiana project. Madonna and I chatted on Facebook on February 20th,2017.
    I am banned from Social media per court order. Madonna's 50 question video is great for her fans. My dream of chatting with Madonna came true. I chatted with Ivanka Trump, Sofia Vergara, and Jennifer Love Hewitt
    Please donate to Malawi Indiana, California Malawi and Madonna's Africa project.