The Power of Video, Visual Storytelling, & Livestream

In this new world, telling your story and keeping your mission relevant is a top priority to engage supporters in virtual fundraising. The power of multi-media allows nonprofits to build connections with remote donors and humanize your mission, no matter where your supporters are.

You’re probably thinking – that’s great. I’d love to do that, but I am a:

A. Nonprofit without a high-tech budget

B. Fundraiser without video skills

C. Small team with little bandwidth

D. All of the Above

Don’t worry! We’ve assembled these top tips that any fundraiser on any budget can use to bring video, livestream, and multi-media to your Virtual Fundraiser. 

Bring your virtual or online event alive with one of these three strategies:

Power of Virtual Storytelling

Visual storytelling is a powerful tool for nonprofits. It involves leveraging a compelling narrative in a visual experience to put your donors at the heart of the story and make an emotional connection.

Why is storytelling so important in virtual fundraising?

  1. Nonprofits have to cut through the noise and stand out online.
  2. Everyone’s attention is becoming increasingly fragmented.
  3. We need a way to connect people to our causes since they can’t connect in-person.

Good news! Using video to tell your nonprofit’s story isn’t as complicated as one might think. Stories that will be the most successful are one’s that authentically address your audience’s problem, emotionally ignite them to act, and in the process, transform your story into their story.

VIRTUAL TIP: Storyboard your video so you have an arc, tight message, and compelling content outline to get started.

We’ve also included our top tips to turn your visual storytelling dreams into reality!

Establishing Your Story

Even though “visual” comes first in visual storytelling, in practice, it should come second. First, think about:

  • The story: Find real-life stories that function as proof points to your nonprofit’s mission.
  • The hero: What is everyone’s favorite part of any story? The hero. While your nonprofit is doing incredible work for your mission, it’s all made possible by the generosity of your donors. Make them the hero of your story – every time.
  • The conflict: A story has conflict. So, you first need to lay out your value proposition, introduce the pain point, and then how you fix it – you now have a story to tell!


Think about companies like Nike, Apple, and Amazon. You know these popular brands because you see them everywhere you go. They consistently and visually promote their brand and stories.

This idea of consistent messaging isn’t new for nonprofits. But with the power of social media, email, text messaging, and mobile bidding, it’s even more feasible.

Share your brand. Consistently.

VIRTUAL TIP: Dust off your nonprofit mission statement. Put it at the center of your video and make sure you video shows, tells, and brings to life why your mission is so important, plus the impact you can create with your supporters help.

Video Quality

Quality matters – it reflects your brand. But let’s be clear. The goal of visual storytelling IS NOT to go and produce a Hollywood video! It’s to produce a video that highlights your nonprofit’s mission with quality that is good enough that it isn’t distracting for viewers.

This way, your message will shine through and your fundraising engagement will soar.

Shifting to a Livestream Event

For many nonprofits, in-person events are second nature. It’s all about the connection, the emotion, and how your donors feel leaving your event.

But how can you take your knowledge on in-person events and use it as you shift to livestreaming? Where do these two worlds collide? The ease of the transition may surprise you!

Livestreaming, accompanied with virtual fundraising software, is the perfect tool to engage with your guests virtually. In order to take it to the next level, consider your visual effects, the timeline of your event, and keeping up the energy.

Visual Effects

Think about what aspects of a live event really “wow” your donors and translate that to your virtual event. Take into consideration:

  • The lights
  • Upbeat music
  • Announcements from the VOG

When you’re preparing your set for a livestream, be sure to incorporate these ideas and more into your event. Your donors will feel the energy through their screens, and you’ll see the benefits come through in your fundraising.

VIRTUAL TIP: Music really is a bridge in this virtual world. Make sure to include music in your videos and virtual event that sets the tone you want.

Timeline of Events

At an in-person fundraising event, a lot of your guests’ time is spent on things other than fundraising for your mission – such as registration, socializing with other guests, trips to the bar, and eating dinner.

Therefore, a common question from nonprofits is how does the timeline shift? Are things condensed down?

The answer lies in your content and what you’re trying to communicate. Most livestreamed events we are seeing are 30-45 minutes, but with the right content and entertainment, it could go up to 2 hours. The great thing about livestreaming is that the focus is placed solely on your mission.

Create mission moments early and often in your livestreamed event and make fundraising FUN!

Keeping up The Energy

In order to have the most successful livestreamed event possible, you’ll need to think about two things:

  • Who is on your stage representing your organization?
  • What is their energy like?

You don’t have the opportunity to walk around and mingle with guests. So, while you can’t connect with them face-to-face, engage with them screen-to-screen! Make sure that whoever is on the mic can clearly convey your mission and keep guests entertained.

VIRTUAL TIP:  Get creative with your programming. The entertainment should bring your cause to life, through performances, testimonials of those served, or any imagery that highlights your mission.

A New Model for Virtual Telecast

To provide supporters with the opportunity to give, we need to show them that everything will be okay, and their support means more now than ever.

A great way to deliver this message to your donors is a new version of something highly popular in the 70s and 80s… a telethon or telecast!

A virtual telecast opens up the doors to benefits that your in-person event can’t compete with. These include:

  • Increased Reach. Social media and the internet allow you to market to a much larger audience, opening up all your networks.
  • No Event Space Limits. Breaking out of the ‘ballroom,’ means unlimited people can attend and less overhead costs.
  • Sale of Sponsorship/Advertising. Because virtual fundraising extends your donor reach and visibility, sponsors will still be very interested in the visibility for their brand and business. With the TV format, you could even place additional ad sponsors with 30 second ads. Let’s do the math: More eyeballs = More engagement = More money.
  • Community Engagement. Your mission can bring a community together virtually. Offer inspiration, hope, and comfort in the strange times of COVID-19.

VIRTUAL TIP: Put aside any doubts about your video production skills. We all have the technical ability to live stream a 30 minute or an hour program that engages existing donors while also acquiring new donors with the exponential reach of the internet!

A run-of-show for a virtual telecast looks very similar to an in-person event. Just because a camera is involved now doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing!

All you need is two key items:

Make this virtual TV gala template fit what makes sense for your organization, community, and mission. This is just a starting place!

Virtual TV Format

Just think—after one hour you will officially be a successful TV Producer!

Thank goodness we live in a multi-media world that makes livestreaming possible. Fifty—even thirty—years ago, fundraising would have stopped completely if you couldn’t have in-person events.

Let’s jump into the possibility that livestreaming, storytelling, and video offer to fundraisers that are fearless enough to keep on the good fight.

BONUS CONTENT! FAQ Sheet: Virtual Events, Video, and Livestreaming

FAQ Sheet: Virtual Events, video, and livestreaming

Guest Authors:

Duncan Schieb

Duncan Schieb, Charity Auctioneer & Fundraising Expert

Duncan has over 20 years of professional auction and consulting experience covering Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Asia. He currently calls around 60-80 charity auctions per year and has raised well over $200 million dollars for charities and nonprofits over the course of his career.

Danielle Snelson

Danielle Snelson, CEO The Profitable Nonprofit Event

Danielle Snelson has been planning corporate and nonprofit events since 2007. Her clients are raising 20% more each year and are sold out months in advance. The Profitable Nonprofit Event is teaching organizations how to be successful and drive event fundraising strategies to do more within their organizations, allowing them to create more impact. Reach out to Danielle, here.


Jon Sherman

Jon Sherman, Creative Director, Video City Productions 

Jon Sherman is the founder of Video City Productions LLC, a Philadelphia based video production studio that produces commercial, corporate, and event films. Video City Productions length service list includes livestreaming, social media campaigns, and gala videos for nonprofits. Jon’s goal is to always tailor video to a client’s target audience to provide an elevated experience.

Wrapping Up!

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