5 effective ways to do video on a budget

If you spend any time on the Internet, you’re bound to have noticed that videos are everywhere, and they are capturing more attention every year from online viewers.

Cisco reports that video will take up 82 percent of Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. YouTube is the 2nd most visited site on the Internet, according to And according to HubSpot’s 2017 Digital Consumer Trends Report, Millennials in particularly prefer video far and above other types of content.

Be strategic

No nonprofit should completely avoid video. But the first question to ask yourself is what is your goal with a video? It should fit into your existing communications strategies. Maybe it falls under one of these common strategies.

  • Do you want your video to appeal to donors?
  • Recruit volunteers?
  • Thank donors, members, and volunteers?
  • Offer a basic primer about your organization?

All of these are worthwhile goals and good ideas to start with. Just know your goal, and then your audience.

Next, develop some key messages and a script of sorts. Your script will inform what type of video you choose, and vice versa. Hubspot has some excellent tips on how to get started.

Video on a budget

There are many ways to capitalize on the world’s obsession with video, and while highly produced videos by experienced producers are definitely an option, here are five options that involve little to no budget:

1) Curate videos

Just like you curate photos, news, and blog posts from other organizations to support your efforts to build brand awareness, brand identity, and online community, you also should curate videos and share them. Sharing is caring, and nowhere is that more evident than on social media.

2) Turn your blog posts into a video.

Every time you put up a new blog post, consider whether it can be turned into a video? Or every time you have an idea for a new blog post, ask yourself, can this also be a video? For example, if you are an advocacy organization and there was just a hearing you attended, take a few notes to guide your thoughts, and then snap a video of yourself telling supporters what happened. Post it on social media, and write an email to supporters with the key points and link to the video.

What are the things you find yourself writing about frequently in emails to members, social media posts, or on your blog? Ask yourself, and maybe brainstorm with colleagues, can any of these be quick, simple videos?

3) Take video footage at events.

Does your organization hold or attend events of any kind of size? Volunteer events. Fundraisers. Community socials. Fairs. Festivals. Are you a direct service organization? You should consider it a small event every time you deliver a service. And start shooting video footage.

If the event is private and children are involved, you’ll need a guardian to sign a photo/video release form. If the event is public, it is sufficient to post signs notifying attendees that video footage or photographs may be published, and anyone who does not wish to permit this should notify an organizer. Organizers can have a special pin for any person that does not want their image used, and organizers know not to use any video or photo that include a person wearing the pin.

When the event is over, take the best video footage and, with some simple editing software like the examples noted below, you can add sound and intersperse moving text graphics with the video footage.

Note: Make sure you have the rights to use the music you choose. There are many older songs in the public domain.

4) Interview people

Interviews are a great, simple, and consistent way to collect content for video and also blog posts.

You can interview anyone related to your organization! Members, volunteers, board members, staff, clients, etc. The nonprofit marketing guide has some great examples of interview questions. Don’t use them all, though! Pick 4-6 and use them consistently – although if one seems to be a dud, definitely change it out.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Consider where you want to videotape because you’ll need sufficient light.
  • Have a third person be in charge of the camera
  • If you can, use a microphone for yourself and your subject – consider investing in inexpensive lapel mics.
  • Pretend you are a news reporter.
  • Introduce yourself and your guest, and then start asking questions.
  • Do several trial runs with staff to work out the kinks. You may find you need to speak louder, the camera should be at a different angle, or you need more light.
  • End the video by thanking the guest, and giving your viewers a call to action, such as: “To learn more, go to,” or “To contribute to (organization name)’s efforts to help homeless youth, click the link at the end of this video.”

To make a blog post from the video, write a simple Q&A style article, with answers edited for brevity.

5) Use poster board

I imagine you have seen a video like this one with people holding up signs. This is an inexpensive way to create a meaningful and emotional video.

[fvplayer src=””]

BONUS 6) Use photos

If your organization has great photos, use them for videos! Add music, interspersed with text, and pan in and out to create movement. Animoto is a relatively affordable service that allows you to do this. Cost ranges from $96-408/year, and includes a free trial.


You’re probably going to need video editing software. If you use a Mac, iMovie is free, beginner friendly, and well rated. Other options include Adobe Premiere Elements ($95 on Amazon) and Power Director for Windows ($70-100 on

Post-production considerations

After your video is finished, what should you do with it?

Post it on YouTube (if your organization does not have a YouTube channel yet, start one). Use YouTube’s card feature to include a call to action.

Embed the YouTube video on your website. If your organization has a spot for images, video might also live there. If not, you can make a blog post, or you can start a new section using a WordPress widget for videos, which can display all of your videos on one page.

If you’re organization has a Facebook page or group, post it natively to Facebook and use Facebook’s tool for adding subtitles.

Don’t be scared

No one expects small nonprofits to have professionally produced, expensive marketing materials – and that includes video. Some of the most successful, viral videos online are poorly produced videos of babies and kittens shot from an iPhone.
It’s the content that made people watch it, and your goals is the same: Create good content and deliver it in the ways your audience wants it, in the places they frequent.

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Natalie B.

Natalie Bennon is a nonprofit communications and marketing consultant for AmDee LLC and other clients nationwide.

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Kristy Bauman

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