The Netsquared question time time is: 'How can nonprofits use online video to raise funds?' and I took the liberty to delete the last three words because I don't know much about fund raising. I'm not any professional moviemaker either, but that's exactly the clue about online video: you don't need any professional filmmakers anymore!. That makes it much cheaper and a tool that is within reach of ordinary nonprofit workers. If students can film their fellow students and put them on youtube, so can we. I even felt a little ashamed when I was once asked as an online video consultant, because I'm not a professional in video as a medium at all. But there was a need to learn things the simple, short, quick and dirty way.
So it is easy and everyone can learn it. But why should we engage with online video as a nonprofit?
1. Video can be a weapon for non-violent nonprofits. You shoot with images.
See the documentary by Netwerk (in Dutch) about the project 'shooting back'. The projects hand Palestinians cameras so that they can film irregularities and make this known. You can watch some of the videos here on the site of B'tselem.
2. Video brings across messages in a different way. Your message doesn't drown in the sea of text.
At times I get pointers to weird videos and watch them. People like to watch videos in complement to all the reading they do. Furthermore, for nonprofits working in more 'orally-oriented' cultures, with less habits of reading text, it can be good to use video. However, when I'm in a hurry I don't watch a lengthy video. So a combined strategy could be best. The time-span that people can watch videos in influenced by culture too. Some people like very short videos, for others, it doesn't bring the point back home. (probably should have videod this to prove, but I dislike filming myself :).
3. Online video by non-professional filmers has the 'beauty of imperfection' (quoting Mark Fonsceca here). This means it is more authentic and does not have technical perfection that professional videos have. Hence, people can believe in it more easily than in videos that are purposely made to 'sell' the message of a nonprofit.
4. Online videos can walk or run across the internet.
Some interesting videos go viral (as has happened with the commoncraft videos). But even if they don't go viral (sounds like something to avoid), you can host them on hosting sites like youtube or blip.tv. The sites now provide you with a code that allows you to embed the video in a weblog or in a website. In other words, your video can travel. You can read about a practical example from UNICEF (videos going viral).
5. With online video more people can enjoy the face-to-face events that you organise.
When you film a face-to-face presentation, or interview someone about the highlights of a meeting and put that online your event will have a wider outreach. It becomes more transparent what you are doing and organising. This is even more interesting for organisations working in far away places. In other words, you can bridge the gap between donors and your partner organisations in other countries without the donors travelling all the way down.
Some practical tips on how to use mobile phones to make videos can be found on my own blog here. Beth Kanter made a great wiki. And here's my 12 step vlogging process explaining how to vlog a meeting.