Another Reading Round-Up
Response Form Design: More Important Than You Think?

Video Fundraising: It's the content that counts

Mark Phillips has a great post about the new See the Difference site that launched this week.  I started to comment on it, but it went on for so long that I thought I’d turn my comment into a post of it’s own...

My big worry for See the Difference is that it seems a very rational thing to do, with them relying on people to follow a thought process something like the following:

“I’m bored at lunch time.
What should I do?
I know.  I haven’t donated to charity for a while.
Should I go on to that new website. The one with the charity videos.
I’ll give £10 to the best video I watch.”

It just doesn’t seem credible.

The only time I seem to watch videos online (and an unscientific study of my colleagues seems to confirm this) is when someone sends me a link or a video is referenced in a blog post or article that I am reading.

I don’t generally go looking for videos to watch. I get someone else to do the work for me.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not the platform that’s important. It’s the content.

Putting together all charities videos in one place isn’t going to make people donate if they are not inspired to do so.

From that perspective See the Difference isn’t any different from You Tube.

The best videos will get watched, shared and raise money. It doesn’t matter where they’re uploaded to, compelling, emotional content with a clear call to action will always do well, regardless of medium.

Seth Godin makes this point in a post called ‘Viral Growth Trumps Faux Followers’.

What would you rather have? A video that is sent to 10,000 people who pass it on to 0.8 people or a video that is sent to 100 people who then pass it on to 1.7 people each?

The graph below shows the difference. 

Viral Growth

As Seth explains:

“The curves represent different ideas and different starting points. If you start with 10,000 fans and have an idea that on average nets .8 new people per generation, that means that 10,000 people will pass it on to 8000 people, and then 6400 people, etc. That's yellow on the graph. Pretty soon, it dies out.

"On the other hand, if you start with 100 people (99% less!) and the idea is twice as good (1.5 net passalong) it doesn't take long before you overtake the other plan.  (the green). That's not even including the compounding of new people getting you people.
But wait! If your idea is just a little more viral, a 1.7 passalong, wow, huge results. Infinity, here we come. That's the purple (of course.)”

From a fundraising point of view this means creating compelling content and then sharing it with your closest supporters. If the content is good enough then they will do the hard work for you and spread the message.  If you’ve only got an average video, then you can put it in as many places as you’d like and it’s still not going to attract lots of views.

To the defence of See the Difference (and I really hope it succeeds) they will be gathering e-mails and contact details of philanthropically minded people and if they get their e-marketing right and offer people the chance to rate videos, come up with a video of the month and keep in touch with people well, then they may secure long term support from people. 

They’ll also learn which videos do best and will hopefully share this knowledge and help charities create compelling content in the future (and move from ‘we’ to ‘you’).

Video can be very powerful and I’m sure it’s going to be increasingly important in fundraising. Its power has been demonstrated this week with the moving video created by Sussex Safer Roads to try and get people to buckle up.

Who’d have thought a 90 second film, created on a minimal budget, would be watched by over nine million people and gain media attention around the world?

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