Video to the Rescue

A distinguished South Texas citizen who suffered with Parkinson’s Disease is the focus of this article (photo by Joe Cook; click to reach Joe’s video services Facebook page). I can’t thank him enough for his help!

In 2005, I worked with a Council of the Boy Scouts of America that sought to honor a distinguished community leader during its annual dinner. The Council’s activities span 17 counties and the dinner is a mainstay of the Council’s annual fundraising schedule. Although at the time, I was assigned to help develop a major gift campaign (a separate activity), because I knew the gentleman being honored, I stepped in to assist.

The honoree was most deserving and had contributed greatly to the economic and social vitality of the region. However, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and was quickly losing his ability to speak and to move about comfortably. The photo above shows him – once tall and commanding, now advanced into Parkinson’s – watching construction on a new art museum wing he helped to fund substantially.

For an overview of the symptoms of this devastating disease, see the Parkinson’s Disease Information Page of the National Institutes of Health.

What can you do if an award honoree cannot give the usual acceptance speech, and when no family members can assist? Video to the rescue!

For a modest budget (underwritten by a local bank), I was able to secure the services of an exceptionally talented video expert whose normal business is to videotape depositions for legal professionals. We also obtained photographs from the family as well as historic photos of the region, and I developed the script. Last but not least, I enlisted the BSA Council Executive to serve as narrator, a task at which he was quite adept. Local authorities and friends agreed to be interviewed.

Once interviews were complete, the video expert and I “locked ourselves in” to edit the film, we added “still” photos here and there, and voila! We were able to complete an attractive and entertaining video of approximately 15 minutes in length that replaced the acceptance speech with class. The video told a colorful and enlightening story of the life of one of the area’s most respected citizens.

The video was a resounding success. It lessened the unease of the family during the annual dinner. The honoree simply rose silently from his seat to be honored with a loud round of applause at the conclusion of the video. It was if he was indeed standing up at the podium giving his speech.

Sadly, not long after, this distinguished citizen passed away. His widow contributed to the Council’s capital campaign within a few years, which was quite kind.

Sometimes people you wish to honor are too shy or frail to give elaborate speeches; consider video as an alternative.

My point is, video can come to your rescue at critical times when you wish to honor someone special. Video can make for a smooth, seamless presentation during special events, especially when community leaders and their families are frail, shy, or just plain nervous. In this case, the honoree’s family members were too shy to speak publicly. Video can also document the history of your organization and the region in which you live, for posterity.

Video does not have to be an expensive pursuit. If you think your project through carefully and consider your available talent and resources, you might be surprised to find all you need is close at hand. Video is a worthwhile investment in your overall development program.

I have identified numerous resources you may find helpful, below. Today, the tools available have increased in number and simplicity. I myself have begun using YouTube Video Editor, making use of casual Vine and Instagram videos taken during events, as well as Instagram photographs. There are so many possibilities, and I urge you to try them out.

I would like to put in a word for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “Our goal is to accelerate the best ideas in Parkinson’s disease research toward clinical testing and practical relevance for patients. By placing a strong emphasis on translational and clinical research, we ensure that new ideas are constantly flowing into the drug development pipeline.”

A recent article by Keren Blankfield for Forbes is insightful, “How Michael J. Fox Used Smarts, Celebrity and Philanthropy to Build His Parkinson’s Foundation” (June 5, 2015).

Video Resources

  • American Marketing Association is an organization worth watching for future educational events that include video as a key aspect of nonprofit marketing.
  • Video for congregations … you might enjoy reading, “Using Video” by Terri Matthes of the Episcopal Church Foundation (July, 2012).
  • Not sure if videos really matter to the success of your nonprofit? The Christian SEO Guys report that having videos and photographs on your Google Places page improves the ability of visitors to search online and find you easily. If you haven’t discovered Google Places yet, you will want to check it out and enhance your visibility.

“For many organizations, a powerful and effective video means an emotional appeal that reaches out to viewers’ empathy to encourage donations, awareness or other forms of support. Triggering the right emotions in viewers can help them connect with your issue on a more personal level. One of the most effective ways to trigger an emotional response in a video is through music.”

  • Lights. Camera. Help. is a terrific resource in Central Texas. In fact, I suggested a group with which I worked apply to have a professional video created as part of the annual Reel Change Film Frenzy, and they won in spring, 2014! See the website for film classes and other news.
  • Here’s a helpful, hands-on resource from the small business sector: “Viral Videos: How to Create and Promote Videos People Love,” by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner (November 16, 2012). This post includes a podcast interview with Mark Malcoff, who has had great success creating humorous videos that have gone viral. Humor is also a good way to attract attention to nonprofit causes, in addition to the more serious type of video production discussed above. On a separate note, I find SME posts to be helpful for nonprofit work also, and would suggest you follow them on Twitter.
  • Vidyard Blog provides a wealth of helpful advice and information!
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, underscoring its importance for anyone seeking to build a higher profile online. See Mushroom Network’s insightful infographic for more, YouTube.

I have been experimenting with YouTube Video Editor and below is a simple example you might enjoy, which includes brief video clips and still photos.

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