Keep them coming back: Using video to increase donor retention

publication date: Mar 25, 2014
author/source: Peter Reynolds

Peter Reynolds photoWhen someone first donates, they have a clear understanding of why they donated and where their money is going.

But, after a while, it might not be so clear. They may remember why they donated the first time, but they no longer know the status of the programs and services they’re being asked to continue supporting. In other words, there’s nothing really to motivate them to donate again.

The key to keeping these donors is to keep the conversation going—to continually let them know how their donations are impacting the work you do and remind them why they donated in the first place.

Here are four ways video can help with this process.

Flagship video

Your flagship video is a profile of your organization, explaining your goals and structure. Traditionally, it’s what you see on an organization’s homepage.

But the goal of your flagship video should not only be to inspire new supporters, but to motivate existing ones. You can do this by not letting it go stale; update your flagship video annually to give existing donors a reason to watch it again. For example, add footage from recent events or fresh testimonials if possible.

Video annual reports

With a video annual report, you can take dry figures and statistics off the page and put them in a visual form that’s going to engage your audience.

Like a traditional annual report, a video annual report highlights your organization’s successes in the past year and is great for donor retention. Donors are updated annually on what you’re up to and where their money is going.

Video blog/video newsletter

A video blog (or vlog) is often a simple, straight-to-camera presentation. A video newsletter is a more involved production and can include current events and testimonials from clients, donors, volunteers and staff. In both cases, the key is to make them personal, relevant and consistent.

Make them personal by including behind-the-scenes information about your organization, perhaps a staff birthday or new hire. This helps your supporters connect by putting a human face on your organization.

Make them relevant by reporting outcomes. There’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn with a success story or two. This a great way to inspire ongoing confidence in your supporters.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make their delivery consistent. It’s better to have a simple, quarterly vlog or newsletter than to have complex videos that are posted erratically.

Thank-you video

Like the name implies, the thank-you video is an opportunity to thank your supporters. Typically, nonprofits will add a thank you at the end of their flagship video or video annual report, but this isn’t as effective as a targeted thank you.

A targeted thank-you video is focused, so your supporters feel you’re speaking to them. It could be for a fundraising event, to thank volunteers or corporate sponsors.  

Like the video blog or newsletter, a thank-you video can go from the simple to the complex. Timeliness, however, is essential here. You’re better to send out a simple thank you the day after an event rather than waiting a month to send something more polished. 

Weighing the costs

Whatever form of video you decide to use, it’s going to come with a price tag. However, you need to weigh that against the cost of losing existing donors. Good communication has the power to create strong relationships that can turn one-time donations into a lifetime of giving.

Here are samples of the four types of videos:

Flagship video 

Video annual report

Video newsletter

Thank you video

Peter G. Reynolds is a video producer and owner of For the Record Productions in Toronto. He specializes in working with nonprofit organizations and disability groups, creating fundraising, educational and public awareness videos. He also works closely with the Deaf community, developing video content in sign language for all levels of government. For more information, email him or visit

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