The Power of Pictures

Brands need to connect with and create authentic, meaningful relationships with their customers and supporters. But perhaps, this goes doubly for nonprofits that would literally not exist without their supporters. Charity: Water is a nonprofit that does this magnificently with online video. They understand the power of pictures, the mini-documentary format, and emotional stories told by real people to galvanize and inspire their supporters – and that’s an understatement. Before you read on, watch this video called, “The 2011 September Campaign. Our 5-year-anniversary video.”

Keep it short or keep it compelling.

Yes, this video runs over the magic time of two minutes after which point online video viewership has been shown to plummet. But, I bet you kept watching. A strong script delivered by an impassioned, charismatic founder, and supported by beautifully shot and edited video, scored with strongly emotional music all combine to make you want to give them all your latte money for the next ten years by the end of the video.

“Why” it works.

The video sets up the problem in an emotional, relatable way. Perhaps the strongest tactic they’ve used is that we’re shown why Charity : Water was created.  Always start with “WHY.” Then, we’re shown what they do; how they do it; how they hold themselves accountable; what their donors have accomplished; what they plan to do next; what money they need; what they plan to do with that money; and how donors will be able to actually see their dollars at work. They provide total transparency and accountability.  They start with “why” and build from there.  And they show you, not tell you. Brilliantly. And notice, they show what YOU, the donor, has accomplished, not what they, the organization, has accomplished. The focus of their gratitude, the focus of their narrative, stays firmly with the viewer – the donor or potential donor. That focus empowers and inspires viewers to respond.

The lessons here are many, no matter what your brand – nonprofit or for-profit. Here are two: 1. Show your customers and supporters how THEY are your business. Without them, you would not exist. 2. Put your stake in the ground and make it visible – whether that’s like Burt’s Bees that we reviewed in a prior blog, that created a video social responsibility report, Whole Foods with their “Thrive” network that engages an extremely broad customer base with highly targeted video channels, or Charity: Water, committed to everyone in the world having easy access to clean water because “water changes everything.”

In Part Two, you’ll see how Charity: Water continues to engage and build community as they personalize their thanks to their donors and inspire them to keep on giving. You’ll also see how they use Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo to let their various partners speak for them.

What’s your stake in the ground? How can you make that stake more visible and more compelling to your customers and your supporters? Let us know and leave a comment. And if you’re not sure, contact us. We can help you clarify your stake and let your world know about it.

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