Using Video in the Development Process … And Increasing Dollars

Sections of this topic

    A number of years ago, we used a video recording as part of the capital campaign solicitation of 14,000 prospects for a 1,200 student (150-year-old) college. The “footage” was shot at various times during the school year and edited for various uses.

    One application was as an introduction to the face-to-face solicitation of major gift prospects.

    A second application was an 18-minute video that accompanied a pre-call letter for the solicitation of the majority of the (“lower-rated”) prospects of the school.

    In that second application, 12,000 videos were sent to parents and alumni as part of that pre-call package — which was followed, within 4-5 days by a solicitation phone call from a student.

    The students, with the support of the pre-call package, raised $6,000,000 in pledges.

    It is interesting that in conjunction with a capital campaign ten years earlier — at the same school, student callers (with the same training and supervision, but without the video) “only” raised $5,000,000 from the same number of parents and alumni.

    The video was so successful that major gift prospects who had not yet been visited, and (therefore) had not yet seen/received their own video but had heard about it from classmates, demanded to get their copy.

    The mass-produced video was designed as a “warm and fuzzy.” It was narrated, both on and off screen, by a Hollywood star who had attended the college. There was, of course, some discussion of the capital campaign — about 3 minutes of the 18, but most of the footage “took the alumni (and parents) back” to when they (or their children) experienced what was displayed on the screen — in chronological order — from the first day at school through graduation.

    I must emphasize, however, that a video will be of little value in a capital campaign if it isn’t used properly: if the solicitors (face-to-face or otherwise) don’t know how to conduct The Ask — including the handling of prospect concerns and objections.

    Where a video, by itself, can’t raise significant dollars, it can be a great adjunct to the process. People-asking-people is still the most effective solicitation technique; and, prefacing The Ask with a creatively produced video can significantly increase contributed income.

    BTW. The third use of the video footage was an edited version for the admissions office.

    We continue the discussion of
    Video in Development
    in next week’s posting.

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