How a Charity Beat Their Fundraising Campaign Goals by $10,000 amid a Pandemic

Author Avatar Casey Hill wrote this on Jul 29, 2020

CURE international, a charity focused around helping disabled children around the world with life saving operations, set a big goal for 2020.

They had invested in creating a thorough and expansive documentary film, Modern Day Miracles, that they knew would help donors understand with clarity, their mission, how their funds were allocated and why this mattered now more than ever. The documentary even featured cultural icons like Tim Tebow.

But besides their best efforts they had been stagnant when it came to engagement at around 15,000 minutes monthly view time on the film. So they set out with a goal to find a way to increase viewership, knowing that with more people seeing what their organization was about, this would ultimately lead to more donations.

In May of 2020, they found their secret weapon. A new approach that in just 3 months took them from 15,000 minutes a month of viewership on Modern Day Miracles to 40,000 minutes a month and led to an increase of $10,000 in attributed donations.

CURE's clever new strategy with video

In May 2020 CURE began a brand new strategy for donor relations: they started sending personal videos.

Their video strategy was two-fold:

  1. Engage new donors with quick thank-you videos to develop early donor relationships, and let them clearly see where their money was going.
  2. Reach out to lapsed donors to thank them for helping in the past, and let them see exactly how their previous donations had helped.

On both occasions the CURE team linked the recipient to their new documentary video.

Here is an example video they sent:

It is hard to watch that video and not be emotionally moved. CURE is helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world and through a direct video, it really brings you in and makes things personal.

Why personal video is the 'purple cow' of donor engagement

A famous marketer, Seth Godin, wrote a book called Purple Cow where he says, if you are walking down the street and you see a cow you probably wouldn’t think much of it. You see cows all the time. But if you were walking down the street and saw a bright purple cow, you would stop, take pictures, share it with friends.

That is part of the magic of personal video. Because getting a genuine, 1:1 video in your inbox is so unheard of, it creates a memorable and shareable experience that stands out from the regular inbox noise. 

Now what is it specifically that is so powerful about this video?

It shows the cause:

CURE has their storytellers record videos from the hospitals themselves in Ethiopia (the storyteller or physician will record the video and then send it to CURE’s team, who has the Bonjoro account, to upload and use on their behalf). Instead of a generic video, CURE is showing donors the actual people that they have supported and puts human faces behind the efforts.

Non-profits and charities who get outside the office and highlight either the people or things that the charity is supporting tend to have the best results.

It doesn’t feel scripted:

Anyone can turn on a camera and read from a script but the videos delivered by CURE feel authentic and human. Rather than re-record if one of the kids makes a goofy comment or weird facial expression, they embrace that as part of a relatable experience that builds trust. Who doesn’t love goofy, smiling kids?

It’s not the videos with the best lighting, perfect make-up and sound control that perform the best. It’s the videos that help people feel connected to your cause that win. 

It leads with gratitude:

All of the videos from CURE begin with gratitude and thanks, either for the viewers time in looking into this important cause or celebrating their past support of the organization. They aren’t asking for anything directly, but realize that by allowing people to learn more about the organization (through things like the documentary), they will be able to build better relationships and over time, donor stewardship. 

All of these things combine to make compelling videos with over 50% open rates and the most impressive stat from CURE, 48% Click Through Rates! With the CTA button right next to the video, CURE is able to carry that emotional resonance from the video and deliver the impact of that to drive a specific behavior: in their case, watching the documentary.

Aligning video with other personal touches

While video has become an essential part of their donor stewardship, it is certainly not the only thing that CURE does to stay personal and build relationships. 

Matt Mundt, their director of marketing told me, “We send a bag of popcorn to each new donor and encourage them to watch the documentary. We really want them to make it an event. Sit down with their families and see the work we are doing”. 

This ethos of being donor-centric, building real communities and having it all on the foundation of relationships is why CURE continues to thrive and grow despite adversity.

When it comes to things like personal video or any other tools for connection, it can’t just be a “marketing hack” or “growth tip” if you want it to have real and lasting impact. In order for an organization to succeed with a tool like personal video they have to embrace it and absorb it in as part of their values and approach to helping their community stay connected. Otherwise, you end up with people reading generic scripts and it loses why it was personal video in the first place.

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If you are interested in using video for your own charity, you can learn more about Bonjoro, and get a free 14 day trial here.

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