Video to the Rescue

Donor with Parkinson's Disease
A distinguished South Texas citizen who suffered with Parkinson’s Disease is the focus of this article (photograph by Joe Cook of Coastal Bend Video).

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 reduced 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. In fact, it was if he was indeed standing up at the podium giving his speech.

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 could not speak due to his illness, and his 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.

Last but not least, do not think you must honor someone at an event who is also known as outgoing and a good public speaker. As we all know, shy and introverted people are often great philanthropic heroes. Video can replace a speech eloquently, it can entertain and enlighten an audience (and keep your event on schedule), and it can be a wonderful “gift” for the person you wish to honor.

I have identified numerous resources you may find helpful, below. Today, the video tools available have increased in number and simplicity. I myself have begun using YouTube Video Editor, making use of casual smartphone videos taken during events, as well as Instagram photographs. Here is an example of a Board meeting presentation filmed with two iPhones and spliced together using YouTube Video Editor (the person was unable to attend the meeting and my quickly-made video replaced his presentation quite well).

There are so many possibilities. 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.”

This 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).

I’ve found smartphones (I use an iPhone) will take surprisingly good videos, which you can insert into more elaborate productions. Photo courtesy of Gadgets360.

A Few Video Resources

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