April 11, 2012

DoGooder Awards Highlight Effective Nonprofit Videos

Eight charities have won cash grants through the DoGooder Awards, an annual contest that highlights the best nonprofit videos.

The winning videos, which include both advocacy and fundraising features, succinctly communicate a message while including a call to action, says Danny Alpert, a contest judge and executive producer at See3, a video consulting company that sponsors the contest, which is now in its sixth year.

"Nonprofits need to challenge themselves about what makes a story worth telling," Mr. Alpert says. "Why will people care?"

The contest awarded four $3,500 grants, three based on an organization's size, plus one more for overall storytelling. The Case Foundation also provided four organizations $2,500 in its "Be Fearless Video" category for producing especially provocative work. YouTube recently featured the winning videos on its homepage.

See two of the winning videos below, and read Mr. Alpert's views on why they are effective.

Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit in Burlingame, Calif., won in the small-organizations category for a video that featured interviews with members of the military who had been sexually assaulted. "A lot of videos try to create outrage," says Mr. Alpert. "This one does a good job at it."

The video, which garnered more than 87,000 views on YouTube, drove visitors to an online petition site by using free tools available to nonprofits through the video-sharing site. YouTube allows groups in its nonprofit partnership program to insert links and comments into their videos by using overlays that pop up as the video plays.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation won the prize for a big organization, with a video that Mr. Alpert says "creates aspiration."

"The basis of great videos is getting people to identify with the subjects," he says. "Helping people want to help these people."

The first half of the video focuses on telling the stories of people who are afflicted by cystic fibrosis and does not include any information about the foundation. The second half builds on those stories to include information about the organization and a fundraising appeal.

The piece is noteworthy because of its length. At six minutes, it runs considerably longer than the one to two minutes recommended for effective online videos. But it manages to hold viewers' attention through its compelling stories about those who are helped by the nonprofit, Mr. Alpert says.

Send an e-mail to Derek Lieu.