We advise teachers to do more with their teacher profiles than simply describe their classrooms or project funding needs. Whether you’re trying to find donors to raise funds for basic supplies, an after-school club or field trip, you can do a better job at spreading your message with one or more videos.

Although you can and should add a compelling statement and photos about your reasons for requesting help to your profile, you should also go the extra mile by speaking more directly to potential donors with a video.

These are the reasons why videos are powerful tools for fundraising

Videos are powerful tools for fundraising because they:

Reassure donors of your good intentions

Most people who view your profile won’t be able to gain a good first impression of you without a video. It’s one thing for a visitor to read a compelling, heartfelt statement and quite another to see and hear you ask for help. In fact, videos are the next best thing to talking to a potential donor face to face.

Since you can’t have a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with a potential donor, a pre-recorded video is the perfect medium to convince them. A video also gives you the time and opportunity to put a lot of forethought into every word, which means that you’re less likely to be vague or make mistakes when talking about your campaign.

Provide more realism than photos

Photos do usually tell more of a story than text alone, but videos go beyond written content and static photographs. Videos help to form a more vivid image of your need in the minds of potential donors.

Which is better: the static photograph of a child who needs help or a video of that same child making a sincere plea for help?

If you really want to appeal to donors, you need to make them feel and care about your cause and the people who benefit from it. One way to do this is by making donors feel like they’re being given a live experience. For example, you might use a 360-degree tour video of your classroom, program site or planned field trip location. Yes, you can do something similar with photos, but you can’t create that real-world connection as well with them. With a video, they’re more likely to empathize with your situation and feel the urgency of your need.

Reach and attract more people

One of the best ways to promote your campaign, increase interest and entice visitors to your profile is with a video. Many internet users love to share videos, especially when those videos and associated website links are available via video-sharing and social media websites. They’re also more likely to discover your video on these platforms. Another option: embed the video or link to it in an e-newsletter that you share with an email subscription list or hobby or professional group.

You can also reach a lot of people with videos through the use of surprise or discovery tactics. For example, you might print low-cost fliers and posters to distribute on the street, in local businesses or at events that feature a QR code that links anyone who owns a scanning-capable smartphone to your video and your campaign page.

Tips for creating powerful fundraising videos

Keep the video on point:

Your video should only take as long as you feel it’s necessary to fully deliver your message in as clear and efficient a manner as possible. That said, it should never go over five minutes. Many people can’t maintain their attention when watching videos for longer than three minutes. If you ramble, they’ll stop watching even sooner.

Don’t worry about hiring a professional:

Although it’s great if you can find a professional to help with making the video, you don’t need one. Instead, all you need is a video-recording camera that creates high quality images and audio, a tripod or steady hand, good lighting, a script and access to a free online video-editing tool.

Of course, if you don’t think you’re capable of making a good video on your own, then you should try to find professional help. Since a videographer might be able to write off the help as a charitable contribution, consider using that tip in your pitch to bargain for low-cost or free video and video-editing services.

Ask for non-professional help:

Always ask one or more friends, family members, colleagues or students for help. Helpers can do more than film the video. They can help you create an inspirational script, conduct equipment checks or just act as your personal cheerleaders.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need help after you’ve filmed the video. You need to create a focus group of multiple people from different backgrounds to watch it and point out any problems so that you can make certain that it looks and sounds great before you upload it.

Always think about first impressions:

Whoever you’re recording should look their best unless you’re emphasizing a campaign where adults or students are working on an educational program that involves “dirty” do-it-yourself tasks that symbolize hard work and a good work ethic like painting, carpentry or gardening.

In addition, when thinking about lighting, always remember that too much direct light on people and clothes can make them look less appealing. For example, a direct light might show off oily skin or acne or make certain colors too bright and distracting.

Cover your legal bases:

Whenever you photograph or film someone other than yourself, you must ask them to sign a release form so that you have written proof that they’ve given you approval to use their name and likeness. You can find plenty of release forms for adults, minors and crowds online using a simple “photograph” or “video” and “release form” keyword phrase search.

Additionally, since businesses value their brands and don’t want to be blindly associated with anything they might not support, never forget to block company logos that appear in the background or on clothing in your videos unless you have express written permission.

Use more than one method to emphasize your message:

Think about all the ways you might explain your cause and need and then use at least three of them to get your message across within the video. For example, you might mix a direct statement to viewers in the introduction with a 360-tour and voice-over narrative or moving music followed by interviews of individuals.

You might go right into a tour but offer presentation-style graphics or a white board in the background that display statistics and important details. It’s important to always, at the very least, include scenes of people who will benefit from any money raised by your campaign.

Include a call-to-action statement:

Always end the video by thanking viewers for watching it and asking for a donation. To make the statement even more moving, record program participants or students asking for help or saying thank you on-camera.

Film with video platforms in mind:

Video-sharing sites typically present videos in high quality, wide shots. To produce the best video possible, film using the camera’s horizontal/landscape mode rather than vertical/portrait one.

Focus on SEO:

Lastly, make certain that the keywords you use to describe your video everywhere, including the words used in the title and as social media hashtags, reflect fundraising in general, education and your specific campaign. For example, you might use hashtags like #fundraiser, #schoolfundraiser, #clubfundraiser or #fieldtripfundraiser.