Levelling the playing field with video

About 10 years ago I realised social media ‘levels the playing field’ for all charities. Today I feel exactly the same is happening with video. I’ll tell you why…

In 2008 I founded a charity in memory of my sister. The Joanna Brown Trust provides sports grants to young athletes and supports sports projects around the world. 100% of the money we raise goes to the cause and to date we’ve raised over £120,000.

That same year I left Cancer Research UK, having worked for them for nearly 3 years in their Race for Life team. I went from the big budgets of CRUK to sitting at home on my own with my laptop with no budget.

It challenged me to think…. “How can I effectively get the message out there about Jo’s charity?"

I set up a website (which I got for free), as well as a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel – which were all also free.

The website was great as it made us feel like a ‘proper charity’, but other than friends, family and people applying for a sports grant, no one else would visit it or even know it was there.

In the beginning the social media channels were what made the difference, quickly followed by video once I got the hang of it.

Unlike more established charities that were still learning how to adapt to the digital world, we hit the ground running and before long we had a really engaged active social media following and were building video into all of our campaigns.

What I realised was it didn't matter how much money you had to spend on marketing. On social media you had the same opportunity to tell people what you do. Take Twitter for example, CRUK and The Joanna Brown Trust both have the same number of characters to communicate our message.

Video has also evolved and peole love authentic content more than slick picture perfect marketing type content. All the tools are there, you just have put a little thought into what to create and give it a try.

The quality of smartphone cameras is increasing all the time and there are lots of free and reasonably priced editing software too. When you add video to your social media channels, it immediately gives you the ability to bring your message to life for your audience.

It's essential to decide on the purpose of your video first and then plan what to record and how best to record it.  Factors like effective use of lighting and capturing good sound quality are crucial to consider alongside your message.

A common complaint I’ve heard from amazing charities with powerful stories to tell is ‘people don’t understand what we do’ or ‘we find it hard to demonstrate our impact.' 

I firmly believe video is the solution as it offers your viewers a window into your world - by telling stories and capturing emotions, it helps people understand what you do and the difference you make. It definitely did for The Joanna Brown Trust.

Here are some video examples I have shot and edited myself to promote The Joanna Brown Trust in different ways.

The first video is about a project we support in India.

We could have described what it is like for the children in India and the immense benefit they receive through our work or, through the use of video, we can actually show our supporters and potential supporters exactly what a powerful impact we have had.

The second example is a video diary I made when we did a charity cycle ride in Germany - taking potential supporters on the journey with me!

I am a huge of advocate of social media and using video to tell your story.

Having started a charity from scratch, I know how hard it can be competing against all the big charities and the money they spend advertising themselves.

Social media and video have definitely levelled the playing field. It is now our responsibility to make the most of them.

If you would like some practical support with video, we have some great training opportunities on offer.

April 27th - FREE 3 hour training for small charities (Birmingham)

June 14th & 15th - 2 day Video Hero masterclass (Birmingham)