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A New Way for Nonprofits to Connect With Donors and Raise Money

Network for Good Customer Mercedes Kirkland Doyle, founder of The Good News Community Kitchen, joined us on a webinar to discuss her experience engaging donors using personal video messages. She had lots of wisdom to share with the nonprofit world about how effective personal video messages can be.

Meet Mercedes

Mercedes established The Good News Community Kitchen in 2015, to rebuild and strengthen communities by fighting hunger one meal at a time in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Under her leadership, the organization has grown at an aggressive rate, been featured on The Rachael Ray Show, established community partnerships, and won numerous community service awards.

How Personal Video Messages Have Made a Difference

During the webinar, when discussing her start with Network for Good, Mercedes admits that she was initially apprehensive about investing in fundraising software as a small grassroots organization. However, when she saw a demo of our simple, smart fundraising software, she was sold by the access Network for Good would give her to better donor engagement tools – including personal video messages.

Since joining Network for Good, Mercedes has used personal video messages extensively to engage and acknowledge her donors. She recognizes the feature’s many advantages, believing she can more clearly demonstrate her passion in a video than she ever could articulate over an email or through a letter.

For her, it’s all about establishing valuable connections with individual donors. In fact, Mercedes sends every single donor a video message. Whether they give 5 dollars or 500, they all get a personal thank you. While she is clearly a regular when it comes to using the tool, she also recognizes that many Network for Good customers may feel apprehensive about sending videos, and for them, she has some tips!

6 Tips for Sending Personal Video Messages

1. Remove yourself from the equation

For those who feel camera-shy, Mercedes urges you to remove yourself from the equation. She reminds us that donors aren’t focused on the individual sender of the video; they are focused on the impact of your organization. Sometimes Mercedes films in the office, and sometimes when she’s walking back from the gym! It’s okay if her hair’s not done, she says, she just makes light of it and delivers her message.

The videos aren’t about you, Mercedes says; they are about your mission and those who are the recipients of the service your organization provides.

2. Recognize the value it will bring

Mercedes says not to let apprehension get in the way of the benefits personal video messages could bring for your organization. Not only is it a great way to personally thank donors, but Mercedes believes it’s a great marketing opportunity as well. In fact, Mercedes say that her personal video messages are more often shared than the professionally made, more resource-intensive videos on her website. Mercedes describes one time when she sent a personal thank you video to an organization, who then took that video and included it in their own video to donors – resulting in even more donations to the Good News Community Kitchen!

3. Don’t assume your donor base will not appreciate personal videos

Mercedes understands that some organizations may be worried that their donor base would not appreciate this new technology. Mercedes even admits to being nervous about sending videos initially and wasn’t sure her older donors would enjoy them. One of her oldest donors is 97 years old, and, as it turns out, he loves getting personal video messages! In fact, when the Good News Community Kitchen has a need and Mercedes sends out a video, she knows she can count on him to donate.

4. Be strategic

It may feel intimidating to record a video for the first time. This is why Mercedes recommends being strategic. For each donation, she gives herself 24-48 hours to send a personal video message acknowledgement. She also uses a baseline script for her videos, making sure to reference donors by name and their donation amount so that they know the video was made just for them.

5. Make it personal

Once you have a baseline script down, don’t be afraid to ad-lib, especially if you have an established relationship with the donor. For example, the same 97-year-old donor is a part of the fraternity who gave Mercedes a community service award. In her thank-you video to him, she made sure the award could be seen hanging behind her and she pointed it out to him as she was filming.

6. Be authentic

While having a script template is a helpful resource to refer to, its also important to be authentic and personable. Treat the videos like a conversational thank you and be open about what your organization is working on and the challenges you’re facing. During the webinar, Mercedes shares a video acknowledgement she sent to a donor at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the need for her organization’s services was at an all-time high. She didn’t worry about putting on a brave face for the video and delivers a heartfelt thank you to the donors for helping her organization during such a turbulent time. And because of the ability to leave comments and “likes” on the video messages sent with Network for Good, after sending these videos she received words of encouragement and gratitude from donors, a testament to the strong connection authentic personal videos can foster.

Incorporating these tips and tricks, Mercedes believes utilizing personal video messages has been a great investment for her organization. She tells webinar viewers not to fear anything related to video, and signs off the webinar with this final reminder: “Just take a few hours to get comfortable with it, and then unleash your creativity and watch your organization grow!”

Want to watch the full webinar that featured Mercedes? You can download the slides and video recording here!

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