Beginning Nonprofit Video Production

Have you thought about how a short video showcasing your nonprofit can encourage both donors to donate and recipients to participate?
Learn more about program fees and the simple enrollment process. Enrollment in the Beginning Nonprofit Video Production Program.
Here is a quick overview of this training program. This is an example of a 2-minute video—just like we will produce in this course.

Many of us are reluctant to enter into producing a video. However, we can show you how you can do this (even as beginners!).

Take this course:

This course is designed for beginners who want to produce a video that can be 80% of a professional video.

We will accomplish this in 6, step-by-step, achievable weeks:

Week One.
Step 1. The Promotion.

Who are you trying to attract? What do you want to promote to them? A donation? Volunteering?

What is the specific subject that you will focus on in the video?

What can you say about this concept in one, two, or three minutes?

We will show you how to do this.

Step 2. The Script. 150 words per minute.
People may not have time to watch more than a one, two or three minute video. Can you get your message across in this time frame? It helps to keep the video short and focused on one very specific topic.

In this course, we will write a 300 word script for producing a two-minute video.

Download the example of the script written for the video above. It is 300 Words and the video is 2 minutes long.

Week Two.
Equipment. This week, we will gather up the equipment that you need.
Learn how to set up a video shoot with equipment that you already own for a quick start. That's a pretty achievable budget! You can shoot a perfectly acceptable video for your nonprofit with stuff that you already have. That's how I got started.

If you already own a point-and-shoot camera or a Smart Phone—that can also shoot videos—you are in business. Two or three lamps—or a sunny window will complete the project.

Week Three.
The Studio: Setting up for shooting. We will learn a few strategies to get that professional look.

A video studio only needs a very small space—a corner in a room.

A simple studio just to get started:

  • You will need a background—something not too distracting. A blank wall works.
  • Set a chair up between your background and the camera. You can adjust the distance between you and the camera to frame the shot.
  • You don't even need a tripod—you can set your camera on a table in front of you.
  • I shot my first series of videos in from of a picture window with plenty of light. I slowly added lamps over time.
  • You can use the microphone on your camera or smartphone.
  • You can memorize a short script—or just ad lib.

For less than $200 you can really increase the quality.

  • Microphones with different features range in price from $25 to $100 and really increase the sound quality.
  • Two mini tripods ($15 each), one for the camera and one for the microphone allow you to maintain your set up.
  • Three 42W ($9 each) fluorescent light bulbs give your video that professional look. I just put them in old house lamps at first.
  • A teleprompter above and behind your camera made from your laptop or a spare monitor allows you to relax, pace yourself and make fewer mistakes.
Studio Setup with Microphone and Mouse

A microphone in front of—but out of view of the camera. Also notice the mouse that moves the script within the teleprompter.

Once you get your studio set up, it can save an incredible amount of time and preserve quality on future videos to use the space over and over again. We're talking about a space four feet by eight feet. Certainly, you have someplace this big in your home that you can leave untouched. If not—we have tricks that we can show you how to do a quick repeat setup.

Week Four.
Preparing for and shooting your video.
This can range from being very simple, to quite sophisticated. My suggestion is to start off with very simple.

Play around with distance and locations for the camera and lighting setup by shooting still photos until you get a look you like.

Once you get the look you like:
  1. Mark the location of everything on the floor with blue masking tape.
  2. Draw a little map of the layout, complete with dimensions including heights of camera and lights.
  3. Make up a little checklist of what you need to do before each shoot. Really, really helpful because one tends to forget over time.

Camera and Lighting Setup.
1. Lineup a chair (mark the location on the floor with blue masking tape) in front of a simple background.

2. Set your camera up on a mini tripod at a distance that will capture you close up, in front of the simple background

3a. Very simple lighting setup. Do this in a well lit location—like in front of the window. Mark the seating and camera locations on the floor with blue masking tape.

3b. More sophisticated lighting setup. Set up three lamps that you already own with the high-powered fluorescent light bulbs. Position them 30" to 48" from your face. Two of them adjacent to your camera facing your face; one above you, off to the side, and slightly above you. This is called the three-point lighting system. Mark the locations on the floor with blue masking tape.

Take careful notes about your set up so you can replicate it.

The Camera. The teleprompter. Lights adjacent to the Camera. 3 Point Lighting system. The light on the left is actually slightly behind me.
The Camera. The teleprompter. Lights adjacent to the Camera. 3 Point Lighting system.

4. Focus. Since you may be working by yourself, you'll need to get the camera to focus on where your face will be. Most point and shoot cameras have a manual focus function. You can set up a 'dummy' where your face will be to focus on. A page torn from a magazine works well.

Manual Focusing After Manual Focus.
Manual Focusing. After Manual Focusing.

5. 20 second delay. Most point and shoot cameras have a delay—so that you can press the shutter and have 20 seconds to go sit down and compose yourself.

6. Teleprompter. Set up your laptop or a second monitor above and behind the camera. You can open up the Word file of your video script in the monitor so you can read it out loud. It's useful to increase the font size so that it is very legible. You can then put your wireless mouse next to where you're sitting to advance the script as you're reading it.

Teleprompter in Video Studio

A simple teleprompter set behind the camera—and just above it. Enlarge the font size so that it is easily legible.

7. Sound. In your initial videos you can use the sound recorder on your point-and-shoot camera. It's easy, and it will allow you to get started quickly. On the other hand, you can set up a microphone in front of you (out of the view of the camera) to record the sound as you speak.

8. Run through your preparation checklist, and then: Go! Click your shutter. You have 20 seconds to sit down, turn on your microphone (if you're using one), and compose yourself for the recording.

9. When the camera and the microphone begin recording—relax. Speak naturally. No need to be nervous—no one is watching you (yet!).

10. Clap at beginning (if you're using a microphone) so that you have a marker to align the audio and video. Then relax for 5 seconds before you start speaking. This creates a nice pause at the beginning.

11. Read your script from the teleprompter calmly and carefully—but in a compelling fashion.

Week 5.
Editing your Video and Audio. This is editing for beginners. Don't worry. Be happy.

Upload the video file into Microsoft Movie Maker. Upload your audio file from the microphone into Microsoft Movie Maker.

Align the audio recording with the video recording (you do this with the clap at the beginning). Cut out the sections at the beginning and end of the video that aren't useful. If you misspeak in the middle of the video, you can cut that out too.

Editing  your Video and Audio in Microsoft Movie Maker.

Save the final edit as an MP4 video.

Create a landing page for your video. We will be discussing how to write a matching landing page. Learn more about landing pages here. You can use elements of your script to write your landing page—or elements of your landing page to write your script!

Upload and embed your MP4 video within your landing page where you want to feature the new video. Create an 'anchor' link to the video [a name="VIDEO"]. This way when you link to it from another webpage or a newsletter—readers will go directly to the video. It is better to embed your video on you landing page rather than provide a link to YouTube. When people go to YouTube they leave your website (and may never return!).

Week 6.
Promoting your video. Zingo. Get the word out. It will be immediately obvious how much credence your video has over just a static web page. Send out a newsletter about your new video. Link directly to the video.

Click here to see and example promotional newsletter that you can adapt and send.

Wow. You are done! Sit back and watch the donations roll in.

Would you like to do this in real time with us? We can take you step by step through this process. You can begin shooting videos immediately with little or no equipment cost.

Learn more about program fees and the simple enrollment process. Click Enrollment in the Beginning Nonprofit Video Production Program.