Monthly Archives

May 2017

Making video work for charities – Thom Craigen

Making video work for charities

Video should be about more than just shiny content on your website – it should be a tool that will help you achieve a clear strategic aim: awareness, branding, fundraising or advice. And a successful strategy means thinking of different ways in which video can work for you – case studies, fun DIY fundraising videos and longer, documentary style pieces.

This week, Thom Craigen, from the Benenden Charitable Trust, shares his experience of getting to grips with video content.

Thom's 4 tips on making strategic video content.

1. Make use of case studies and testimonials

Benenden Charitable Trust provides grants to people struggling with health-related money problems, matters which are sensitive and private. It takes courage for someone to ask a charity for help and even more to allow their story to be shared publicly. Charities should be extremely grateful to those who are willing to tell theirs and must tread lightly when having conversations around this.

Our first case study videos were interviews conducted remotely using Skype and Facetime, which made up in authenticity what they lacked in polish. Their DIY production values were well received at our 10th Anniversary celebrations and helped us raise £19,000 as well as generating numerous invitations to present at members’ meetings across the UK.

We went on to create two professionally produced case study videos, using the voices of the participants to tell their story and demonstrate how Benenden Charitable Trust is able to help. These videos provide a fulcrum for our current awareness campaigns with magazine articles, direct mail and email activity all supported with the rich video content available online.

You can watch all of the Charitable Trust’s videos at

2. Keep it DIY, lo-fi and fun

As well as the emotional and moving case studies, the lively and lighthearted home-made videos produced by fundraisers have also been a big part of engaging with a key audience – Benenden staff.

It is fast becoming a tradition for #TeamBenenden to feature prominently in the annual York 10k Run For All event and each year the runners pull together a video in support of their online fundraising. This has featured footage of them training, or simply a series of photos of grinning team members wearing their branded running shirts. In 2015 footage of the event itself was also crowdsourced from friends and colleagues stationed along the route and edited into a short video which was shared to thank supporters.

3. Try long distances and longer video for lasting memories

In 2016 the charity teamed up with the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to organize “Cycle GB 2016”, a 7 day, 540 mile charity cycle ride from SAMH’s home in Glasgow to Benenden Hospital in Kent.

Physical challenge events like Cycle GB 2016 are relatively common these days, so to project the scale and importance of our challenge we chose to work with a video production company to create a documentary video about the event and the personalities involved in it.

A series of rider profile videos, released online in the months leading up to the ride, charted the training, preparation and personal motivation of riders. Participants from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Yorkshire were selected from the team of 20 riders as those most likely to provide a compelling and emotional narrative during the ride (whether from deeply felt personal motivation or through a serious lack of preparation and training…)

A producer and cameraman travelled with the riders for 3 days in total, capturing interviews and key events including the departure from the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and finish line celebrations. Additional footage in between these days was captured by riders and support crew using Go-Pro cameras and smartphones.

The final result was a 19 minute documentary which, as well as supporting online fundraising efforts, serves as a lasting record of the challenges faced and overcome by all involved in the ride. It is a reminder of the £29,000 raised for two worthwhile causes and brings longevity to the aims of the event, providing a talking point around which conversations about mental health can be started, now and in the future.

4. Make sure you know what success looks like.

Our experience has shown that success is about more than just social media viewing statistics. Video opens doors and provides a rich and engaging way to showcase diverse aspects of our work in ways where other channels fall short. It can amplify a message, inspire the viewer and leave a feeling that what you are watching is part of something big, something fun or something important.

For Benenden Charitable Trust, video is a valuable means of raising awareness amongst our target audiences – be they fundraisers, corporate sponsors, colleagues or most importantly, our potential service users. We have just launched a video outlining how we can help and how to apply. We will continue to seek participants for further testimonial videos… and who knows what our 10k fundraiser runners will come up with this year…

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Thom Craigen is the Charitable Trust Manager at Benenden Charitable Trust.

One half of a team of just two, Thom is responsible for a broad range of areas including governance, strategy, fundraising and casework.

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