Engage Donors Using Personalized Video Campaigns

Mckenna Bailey

This article was provided by Casey Hill, Head of Growth at Bonjoro.

While 2020 has brought challenges for many charities, some are thriving. Recently on an episode of the podcast Freedom Fundraising, Mary Valloni talked about charities she is working with where the donors are calling them! Their donor base is so engaged that the donors are literally asking them if they need more financial support. CURE, a multi-national charity dedicated to life changing surgeries for kids all over the world, just had a massively successful big gift campaign…. In April of 2020. So what are the outliers doing differently?

They are adapting and staying human. Of course we all wish we could talk with our donors face-to-face and in-person. Body language, tone, inflection all combine to create trust.

But if we can’t physically be in the same space, it is time to use technology tools, like personal video emails, to make sure we are still communicating in a way that feels human and authentic. Personal video is a powerful lever to help organizations thank donors, re-connect to lapsed donors, check-in on their communities, invite people to virtual events, send out organization updates and more! Personal video can be used for 1:1 messaging and for messaging at scale. Here is how it works!

Thank Donors Using Personalized Video Emails

Donors are an irreplaceable part of our communities. They are the lifeblood behind the causes we love and care about. Some of the most impactful applications around personal video start by just checking in, showing gratitude and making sure our donors know we are there for them.

Watch this great example from the YMCA. 

The YMCA creates an engaging video campaign for donors.

Here is the beautiful thing: while gratitude is something we should always practice as committed and grounded organizations, it has an incredible business impact too. That simple thank you video I shared above led to a $3000 donation. Watch the video again. Did he ever solicit anything? Nope, just saying thank you and reconnecting them to the cause they supported.

If you think about how most organizations do thank you’s it is at best an automated or mass produced message. The emotional impact of that just isn’t there as the donor knows this is just a bulk email that goes out to everyone. If you want your donors to genuinely feel engaged and connected it makes a world of difference to take the 60 seconds and send them something 1:1.

Here is a great example of a personal video template:

Subject Line: [Name] – here’s a personal thank you video from [Org Name]

Message: Hi [Name]. Here at [Org Name] we don’t think automated thank you emails do justice to your contribution to our cause. So here’s a thank you I recorded just for you, and more information about how your money will be put to good use…

CTA: Join our Facebook community”

You cut through the noise, show gratitude, hit the donors inbox and invite them to engage more deeply with you.

Engage with Lapsed Donors Through 1:1 Video Messages

It also works as an amazing way to reconnect with old donors that might have fallen off. You are bringing them back into the fold and getting them re-invigorated around the cause. Here is an example from CURE’s team of a successful video they used as part of a campaign that raised $10,000 more than their control group that used standard phone and text email outreach.

Cure uses video engagements for personalized connections.

Here are a few things we notice that make this video so compelling:

  • Showing the cause they are supporting up front and personal
  • Nice branding and aesthetic around the video
  • Clear CTA around next steps
  • Referencing specifics that they supported before (such as the three patients Matt impacted with his last donation)

Personal videos can be recorded from your phone or desktop, and don’t require any fancy lighting or editing software. The key is just to be you. Using a tool like Bonjoro with data pulled from Virtuous, you can easily record a 1:1 video with context. People recognize and appreciate people who they can relate with!

When reconnecting with past donors a huge component of success is referencing their commitment in the past and getting them into the frame of mind where they are reminiscing on their impact.

Send Invites and Connect with Community

When it comes to personally thanking or re-connecting with donors, you typically are going to want to use 1:1 videos. But with community connection, there are applications for both 1:1 and 1: Many! 1: Many video refers to you using a video asset in say a newsletter or automation to have it go out to lots of people (vs. just one video for one individual with 1:1)

For 1:1 you could use personal video to invite VIP donors to an event or gala (even a virtual gala). You could also use it to check in on a specific volunteer, vendor or partner. Applications where you have an established relationship or lots of data points work well for 1:1.

But there are other times where it might make sense to send a message to everyone at the company as an update, or to all your volunteers. These are applications where using a 1:Many video is more beneficial. The key for 1:Many is applications where you are trying to get across the same sentiment to everyone and there is less information or context to make it 1:1 (company updates, event or webinar invites, bulk instructions etc.). There may also come times where 1:Many messaging can be more time efficient and help you still deliver the emotional impact of video, but save you valuable hours.

Donor Relationships in the Future

Although personal video is an amazing way to stay connected to your community, at the end of the day, it’s really not about video. It’s about an organization caring so much about their donors and volunteers and support staff that they are going to take time out of their busy days to show those people personal attention. That is the heart of this thing. 

Time and time again news publications and studies publish data showing the value of personalization. But organizations still struggle with exactly how to do that. Unfortunately using a merge field that calls the donors by name on a mass email to 1,000 people isn’t going to cut it. Donors want to feel directly tied in with the cause and they want to know the staff and people behind the scenes of the organizations they patron. So get out there and get genuinely connected with your communities, through personal video or any other means that lets you forge real, human relationships.

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