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The Top 5 Misconceptions about Capital Campaign Videos (with video)

Posted by Catie Foertsch


 If your institution is considering a capital campaign, you know you’ll need a video component, because video can drive your campaign to success. But the danger is that you'll fall victim to common misconceptions, and get your capital campaign videos wrong. Which would rob you of the powerful tools you need, and could endanger the success of your campaign.

Let’s Debunk The Top 5 Misconceptions About Capital Campaign Videos


Misconception #1: You only need one video

A capital campaign doesn’t launch and complete in one year. It’s a larger undertaking, and often lasts 3 – 5 years.

You might be tempted to create one video, and use it like an old reliable warhorse across the length of your campaign, all the while patting yourself on the back for getting so much bang out of your video production buck.

 That would be a mistake.

Across your campaign’s timeframe, you need to keep your video content current, fresh and energized.

You also need to keep it tuned to the various phases of your campaign, so that everything is consistent and on message. You don’t want donors to look at a 2-year-old video while you’re talking about the fresh new things that have been accomplished during the campaign.

In fact, a recent study showed that one of the top motivating factors for donors was having access to information that proved the impact of their contributions.

A video created for the launch of your campaign can’t possibly show donors the impact of contributions. But clearly, you must show them this impact, and there’s no better way to show impact than through video.

If one video won’t do it, how many will you need?

The answer is unique to your campaign, of course, but one example would be the video series we’re creating for Middlesex School’s capital campaign.

Middlesex is one of our Boston video production clients. The series of videos we created for them is well-planned, and consists of four major videos, along with several social media snippets:

  1. Introductory Video (6 min)
  2. We’re Underway (3 min)
  3. We’re Well On Our Way (2 min)
  4. Thank You (2 min)


 Here’s a look at the Middlesex Introductory Video:



Successful campaigns present fresh, energizing video content to their donors – content that maintains and renews the emotional connection donors have with your institution, across the length of your campaign.


Misconception #2: Your video should focus on the WHAT (what you want to do) and the HOW (how much it’s going to cost)

As every fundraiser knows, an emotional response is critical for donors. You’ll communicate the numbers, of course, but your video isn’t the place.

Whether your institution is a school or a hospital or a nonprofit, your donors will make the decision to donate because they love your institution and care about the work you’re doing. Your video is the place to reconnect them with what it is they love and care about. To be successful, your video must find and feature the emotional core of your institution.

Take a look at the second Middlesex video, and notice the elements that continue the emotional connection created in the first video – the music (the school’s song creates a powerful connection with alumni), the scenes of student life, the reminder of what is so very special about Middlesex.


Every institution has an emotional touchstone that must be a recurrent theme in all your videos. For Middlesex it’s the school hymn, "Rank by Rank." Whether it's sung by the chorus or played by student musicians, it's in every Middlesex capital campaign video.

Maybe your institution's emotional touchstone is a beloved building you’re renovating. Or an annual event that benefits the people you help. Or an inspirational founder… it could be anything. But for maximum emotional connection, you must find that touchstone, and make it a component of your videos.


Misconception #3 Your videos should stick to emotion, and skip information

An emotional response is critical, but it’s not enough. After you’ve awakened that emotional response and reconnected people with what they love about your institution, you need to communicate what you need, and why. Because donation is all about heart and mind, together.

But - this is critical: your video must not shift into PowerPoint mode. You must not present charts and graphs and dollar amounts. Instead, present what-you-need-and-why in a way that doesn’t drive away the emotional connection your video works so hard to create. Instead, present the “what” intertwined with and supported by the “why.”

In the Middlesex overview, the need is laid out in a very organized way – through chapters. The campaign has multiple components: faculty support; endowment; new, renovated and repurposed facilities; and scholarships. Each is explained in its own chapter, and each is explained in terms of how it supports the mission of the school.

At the end of the video, donors are connected with what they love about the school and how much they care about the Middlesex mission. They also know what needs to be done, and why.


Misconception #4: You’ll only use your video on your website

 Some institutions invest in a capital campaign video and then park it on their website, assuming that donors will find their way to it, watch it, and be moved to donate.

WRONG! You can’t make assumptions about what donors will do, and you can’t count on them finding your videos. Your videos are so powerful that you must connect donors to them any and every way you know how – and that includes social media.

Your videos are also the perfect tool to begin face-to-face conversations, in small, intimate meetings as well as larger presentations. They will rekindle your donors’ passion for your institution and your mission, and let them know what you’re proposing to do and why.

Starting your meetings and presentations with your videos will align your donors to the discussion that will follow, and initiate its focus, which is how they can help.


Misconception #5: To save money, you can recycle your material

Recall Misconception #1: You only need one video. By now you know this is incorrect, but still: Isn’t it tempting to think that you can still save money by making several videos out of the same raw material?

But – if you want to keep donors informed about the impact of contributions, your original material can’t do that. And if you want to present donors with fresh and engaging material that keeps their emotional connection alive, you can’t do it by showing them the same old material, re-edited into a different version.

Does this mean you can’t film some material for use in future videos when you shoot for your first video? Absolutely not. You can – and we encourage our clients to – also film material that will appear NOT in the first video, but in subsequent pieces.

However, there is much you simply cannot film in the beginning stages of your capital campaign. For example, your school through the seasons, with key seasonal student activities, Or the journey of one of your patients through treatment. Or the progress of your new building.

So don’t succumb to the impulse to cheap out on your capital campaign videos with just one filming component. Instead, understand that they are incredibly powerful tools that can drive the success of your campaign. And then invest accordingly.



You already know that video is a vital component of any successful capital campaign. But just having a video component isn’t enough.

  • Your video content needs to work hard for your campaign, by rekindling in your donors the love and passion they feel for your institution.
  • You'll want to provide multiple videos across the span of your campaign, to connect donors with fresh, energizing matieral, and to show them the impact their donations are having.
  • Your videos must also balance emotion and information, with the information presented through the lens of the emotional connection.
  • Your videos are powerful, inspirational messages to your donors, and you need to connect them with donors in every way you can think of: on your website, on social media, and at presentations and meetings.
  • You want to resist the urge to economize by only budgeting for one filming session. Instead, multiple shoots across time allow you to present a much richer and fresher representation of your institution, which will energize your donors and connect them with what they love - and want to be part of.


And of course, if you’d like to discuss your capital campaign’s video needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.





Topics: Academic Video, Nonprofit Video, Corporate Video