How Not-For-Profits Can Get Face-Time with Patrons During the Shut-Down
The Sprocket Report
When all events in spring were cancelled, everyone hoped for the best come summer. Or maybe fall? But as the cancellations keep coming, non-profits need to do something now to stay in touch with their supporters.
Like you, the Sprocket Websites team volunteers with local not-for-profits, so we know first-hand the struggles NFPs are going through during this time. Many groups depend on fund-raising events and when there are no events, there are no funds. But there still are bills to be paid, so what can an NFP do to get help?
Hosting an online event is one answer and while some groups are doing it, too many are not, and they are missing out on both immediate and long-term rewards. The two most common reasons for not going online are fear of the technology and not knowing what kind of program to create.
Let’s start with program ideas. When your NFP is a performance group, it’s logical to perform something. Jim is on the board of the New West Symphony so they have created several videos of their musicians playing. Don is on the board of Summer Place Theatre who has created videos of singers performing show tunes with piano accompaniment. Other groups have held play readings or poetry recitals. Important to note, however, is that licensing for use on the internet is not the same as your group’s regular license use. Check with the company first.
Of course there are license-free options as well such as work in the public domain or original work by permission of the author. If your NFP serves children, teens or another enthusiastic group, they could even write their own play to be performed online, Brady Bunch style.
If a performance is not your style, consider an interview “show.” Talking with the people you serve, members of the board, or even with some of your patrons lets you share your story in an interesting way. Or ask your committee to brainstorm other ideas such as a game show or an online auction.
An idea is one thing, making it happen is another. Your event could be presented as it happens, for instance on Facebook Live, but you could also pre-record your event and “premiere” it live at a certain time. Premiering a pre-recorded program gives you the excitement of a live event while ensuring peace of mind because there will be no surprises.
To pre-record your event, plan carefully, recruit helpers, and allow plenty of time for completing each step. New technology can be intimidating at first, but even once you get the hang of it, you may be surprised by how time-consuming the work is and how long it takes to upload your finished video. On the plus side, there is an amazing amount of technology available – for free – that will let you produce beautiful and professional-looking videos.
Your performers, interviewers, or whoever you are featuring can record themselves in the safety of their own homes by using their smart phones. Email can’t handle big video files, so those videos should be collected through a service such as Google Drive or DropBox when finished.
Next, the editors of your group will want to trim and link the videos together. One tool that is free for Mac users is iMovie. If you really want to get into it, there are all kinds of fun techniques you can use, but subtlety looks most professional, so don’t go too crazy!
Sound is frequently an issue. Jarring differences in sound levels between two performers might need to be adjusted or background noise reduced. To fix problems like that, you can move the audio portion to Audacity and use the tools there. Don’t forget to add an intro to your video and credits thanking your team.
When finished, you’ll want to share your video. You can schedule a premiere on YouTube for a specific date and time. Facebook has a similar premiere feature. Build in some marketing time to give people the heads up so they’ll attend and have volunteers manning the “comments” to engage with viewers. Remember this is an event – it’s special! Later, you can post the video on your website and re-share the links on social media.
This may seem like a lot of work, but regular events take effort, too, and it’s important to stay in front of your supporters. They are wondering about you, although you may not know it, and will be happy to hear from you. You can also ask for donations through websites like PayPal or Patreon. But the biggest reason to do something now, while we are still unable to have live events, is to sustain relationships so that you aren’t starting from scratch when normality returns. Consistency is key to growing your audience and we have the stats to prove it.
To get a sense of what a finished product can look like, and of course to enjoy an online performance, follow this link to the New West Symphony of Thousand Oaks, California, where there are a few performances on their website, and follow this link to youtube and a recent performance by The Summer Place, Naperville, Illinois' Community Theatre.
We have helped out with our chosen non-profits, but Sprocket Websites isn’t really in the video business. We are, however, in the business of getting your videos on your website and promoting your video event on social media and, since we know a bit about video as well, we would make great partners for your NFP’s next project. Give us a call so we can discuss the possibilities!