We’ve teamed up with See3 Communications, the interactive media and marketing experts for nonprofit and causes, for a series in how to use video creatively and effectively for fundraising online. We’re pleased to host the first post in this series, authored by See3 CEO Michael Hoffman.

Online video is big. Really big. You might know that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. And you might know that more than 80% of internet users watch video online each month. But did you know Cisco, the company that produces a lot of the pipes that power the internet, says that in four years 90% of the world’s data will be in the form of video? Holy smokes! Did you know that Facebook is now the third most popular video sharing site? Shows that you can’t separate the social media phenomenon from online video. And did you know that television and the web are coming together, turning your website into a channel and giving your cause the same opportunity for access to viewers as major broadcast networks?

So, how can online video be put to good use specifically in your year-end fundraising?

Here is the 5-point checklist for fundraisers to see if they are maximizing the use of their video during the year-end.

1. Have a Plan
Fundraising 101 tells us that we have to be smart about our time and efforts. We have to understand who our audience is, where they can be reached, and what messages will resonate with them. Think about it. Think about your current video assets, your ability to produce something right now for the year-end (or not) and where online you can reach your constituents. Decide what resources, human and financial, you can put to this effort and make sure your video plan is compatible with your other year-end fundraising activities.

2. Get Video Online
Many organizations have video assets. They have the gala dinner video, they have footage from their events, and they have video shot by volunteers or staff. This video isn’t doing you any good if it’s not online. If you can, cut longer video into shorter clips to account for online attention spans. Put the video on YouTube, Facebook (if you have a page) and embed on your website. If you don’t have video assets ready, make a video for the end-of-the year that answers the following question: What did we do in 2010 and why is it really important to get more support for our work in 2011? This video can be simple speaking to camera, or better yet, a combination of speaking to camera and a narrated slideshow that shows the viewer what you did throughout the year.

3. Get a YouTube Nonprofit Channel
YouTube is the biggest video sharing site. But what you might not know is that they have special features for nonprofits. You have to apply, and religious congregations, political campaigns and some others aren’t invited. You also have to be a registered charity in the US, UK, Canada or Australia to be eligible. Check it out here. One of the things that your nonprofit channel gets you is branding, so your YouTube page can look more like your website and contain links directly to your home page and donation pages.

4. Use YouTube Annotations
YouTube allows everyone to put annotations inside videos. These are little pop-up boxes that give the viewer additional information that wasn’t put into the video when it was made. YouTube also allows you to link these annotations from the video to any other page on YouTube. For example, you can use an annotation to tell people to see your other video, and the annotation will link to that other video. Or you can ask viewers to click to subscribe to your YouTube channel. For those in the Nonprofit Program, YouTube goes a step further and allows you to link these annotations directly to your fundraising pages or website. For example, you could have a DONATE NOW graphic in your video and make it a clickable link to your donation page. But a video is worth a thousand words, so check out how it works below:

5. Empower Your Existing Network
Finally, the best megaphone you have is your current supporters. Use video to tell them why it is so important that they donate this year. But also ask them to “like” your video on Facebook, email their friends with the link and otherwise promote your organization to their own personal networks. Video can help in this effort because it is much easier for your constituent to forward a video that asks for money than to write that ask themselves. Make sure to use every touch point to promote your video, including in-person events, email signatures, email blasts, online and print newsletters, etc.

Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear how your organization has used video for your year-end fundraising campaigns and what you learned from the experience. Even better, what are some ideas you and your team have had for using video in your year-end appeals? We’re happy to give feedback and even some pointers.

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