3 Rules for Making a Great Gala Event Video

At See3 we’ve made hundreds of videos, many of them for gala fundraising events. In this time, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

And as the people behind the DoGooder Awards, we review thousands of nonprofit videos each year looking for innovation, patterns and what works.

One thing we’ve learned is that lots of people make videos. And a lot of these videos are pretty and well-produced. But as strategists, advocates and fundraisers, we bring a different lens to our video making. We want to create videos that get results. We bring to this work more than a decade of consulting with organizations on strategies for advocacy, fundraising and education. And while we all want the recognition for making a beautiful video, we would much rather know that the video is effective in raising money and helping move the organizational mission forward.

Avoiding the Traps

We’ve learned that the process of making a gala event video is fraught with traps. The biggest of these traps is treating the one video as if it were a kind of organizational home page where every program, activity and interesting factoid needs representation. How many times have you sat in a gala fundraising event and watched a video drone on about all the wonderful things the organization does? Look at this great program! How about that great program!

When we are hired by an organization to make a gala event video we start with a discussion about goals and how to avoid the traps so that we can produce a video most likely to achieve those goals. We review organizational culture and establish for our clients what the video’s role in the event needs to be and how to achieve that. Through these discussions, our clients come to understand how to say no to internal constituencies, and prioritize what goes into the event video to make it most effective.

The 3 Rules

There are consistently three rules which will make your event video the most effective it can be. And while they may seem simple, they require discipline to execute.

  1. The hero of your story is the donor. It’s not the beneficiary or the brand. It’s the donor that’s making everything happen, and that fact must be there — explicitly or implicitly — in your story in order to empower donors to action.
  2. The people attending your event will not remember the details of your programs one minute after you talk about them. The only thing they will remember is how you made them feel. Start with what emotional outcomes you want, and build your story around that primary goal.
  3. Show the story, don't just tell it. It's best to limit the talking heads on the screen. Instead of having stakeholders talk to the camera about the great work you do, show it in action. 

That’s it. Follow these three rules and you’ll make a powerful video that looks a lot different than the usual mediocre fare. Solve the “here’s what we do” question another way at the event and use the video to tell an emotionally powerful story. Educate your internal constituencies about the video’s role and push back on those wanting to make sure the video covers, x y and z program.

And, hire a production partner that understands fundraising and donor behavior, in addition to being a skilled video producer.

See3 makes powerful video for social change. Talk to our Executive Producer Danny Alpert or Producer Stacy Laiderman about how to make your gala event video a powerful tool for your fundraising.

Want to learn more about making a great gala what it takes to make a great gala event video? Join us for our webinar: Show Your Story: How to Make a Great Gala Event Video

Author: Michael Hoffman
  • Video
  • Event
  • Nonprofits
  • Fundraising