How a Bad Video Can Ruin Your Fundraiser


I recently attended a fundraiser where the opening video was so poorly produced that instead of help the cause, I believe it actually hurt it. The excuse was a familiar one, “it’s about the stories and not the production,” was the reply to my text on how bad the video was. The truth is that because of the poor production, great stories were reduced to bad stories that made no sense.  A bad video will undermine an event and the professionalism and competence of any organization and its leaders. Whether you’re using a volunteer, a staff member or even a paid professional, here’s what to look for in a fund raising video:

how a bad video can ruin your fundraiser

Is this image clear enough to look good on a projection screen? You’d be surprised how poorly produced videos that look OK on computer monitors translate terribly to a projection screen. If a video looks grainy and dark on your computer, it will look even worse on a screen.

Is the interview audio level adequate? If you only have the camera ambient mic, chances are your audio interview will not be usable. If you can’t hear what it’s being said, then don’t bother with it.

What are you trying to say and who’s your audience? Good producers know where they want the story to go and they make sure they find the thread of continuity even in different interviews and stories running throughout an entire video. They ask questions, probe and find the soundbites that take the viewer where they should go.

Are you doing justice to people’s stories? The video I saw recently had a powerful story of a family who lost a son but the piece was so badly put together that the audience was confused and shocked at the end. “What happened?” asked the people next to me.

These seem obvious but even organizations that should know better will allow amateur videos ruin their fund raising efforts on the altar of convenience.

What else would you include in this list?

  • John Howard

    Thanks for this post. I have been telling my team that a poor video is worse than no video.

  • Tammy

    One of my pet peeved is when a video goes on for too long. Too much of a good thing is too much. People need to know when to stop and non profits are usually not good at that

    • Like George Castanza from Seinfeld, you need to walk away at the top. Always leave them wanting more.

  • If you have a narrator, make sure the copy is well-written and takes the viewer to the point and purpose of the video. The narrator(s), too, need to have appropriate vocal and visual presences (not movie stars, but appropriate). I recently watched a church video promoting a missions ministry effort. It was 5 minutes full of rambling. I have no idea what the video wanted me to feel, think about, or do. A good script and an enthusiastic narrator would have made ALL the difference.

    • Oh, and then there’s the dreaded bad script and/or narrator. Yes, thanks for that tip.

  • Barry

    Agree with you Maruilio. I say in the music business all the time “the only thing worse than NO music video is a BAD music video”. Same thing applies here. Better to speak from the heart than to attempt something inferior. And if I have one pet peeve it’s the line, “let’s get all God’s people together and show the world (insert your cause here)”. Why not just tell compelling stories? Why not just make a more excellent presentation?

  • Joni

    You are spot on. I tell my communications students that good packaging is essential to any story. I ask them if they would rather purchase Oreos in clear packaging or in a paper bag? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the story if brown paper gets in the way. The same is true for print media or any communication media. Packaging is essential.

  • Anonymous

    Preach it bro! Excellence always and …. at any cost. If you can’t afford to do it right, don’t do it at all. Spare us, yes!?

    • Excellence specially from people who know and have done better! There’s no excuse for that.

  • One thought here is does the sound, blocking and video leading into the interviews “catch” or “grab” the audience so they are ready to receive the message.nnMuch like when I am speaking to a large group, the opening is key. If you can grab the attention up front, the middle and end come out a lot better. If not, all is wasted.nnGreat piece as always!

    • A great opener is sets the tone for the rest of the video.

  • Attempts at humor from unfunny people. Inside statements that others won’t get, or may even be offended by. Videos that are cooler than the event 🙂

    • I have sat through all of these! Love the “videos that are cooler than the event.” I know exactly what that means.

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