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How to make your own charity video, and make it well.

Let’s face it, very few nonprofits actually have a decent budget set aside for promotion and marketing. If your charity lacks the funds to commission a professional, SLEEK looking promotion film- this piece of advise is for you.


Going DIY is perfectly achievable these days, with smart phones, cheap digital camcorders, open source editing programs, and plenty of advise on the web. But here are some of the common mistakes you want to avoid:

The most common mistake with low-budget / no-budget promos is that they are too LONG.

If it’s 5 minutes, it’s too long. If it’s not a uniquely compelling story of a personal nature- 3 minutes is too long. And if it’s too long, the viewers will not stick around for the bottom line.

A rough guideline would be: 2 minutes or under for an “explainer video”, and 4 minutes or under for a personal-journey-type video.

The second most common mistake in the low-budget promo making is aiming for TOO MUCH.

If funds are short, less is better. The more you try and achieve with a tight budget, the worse quality you will get. If you have zero budget, try just interviewing one person to get one strong story.

Don’t forget the sound!!  The quality of sound you record can make it or break it. Most smartphones will give you a decent shot, but your video will be un-usable if you’re not careful about recording in a quiet space, or with a microphone close to the subject (even a separate smartphone can act as a microphone!)

And remember, editing is where the magic happens.

Using exactly the same pool of footage, one can end up with a poor looking video, or with a highly engaging one, depending vastly on the skills of the editor.

So if you are going to invest in just one thing for your video, invest in a professional editor. 

Into Darfour by Oxfam, is a video that could well have been put together using solely pre-existing footage and selfie-videos, but it’s been put together wisely, with engaging authenticity.

Film for Social Change