Using videos for storytelling

Dr Saumya Arora About Dr Saumya Arora

Dr. Saumya Arora is a development professional with cross-disciplinary experience in project management, resource mobilization, donor relationship management, community mobilization and project execution at the field level. She is currently working towards building fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of community-based organizations, apart from developing functional linkages with donors across the world.


With the advent of internet and social media, plus a surge in the number of people having mobile phones, communication is getting easier, faster and more accessible for everyone. Clicking pictures and recording videos is so easy these days, with a click on your mobile phone. Visual storytelling is a way to tell your story through videos.

Videos have always been an unparalleled method to get the viewer experience your world. So many NGOs are focusing on ethical photography and videography in their fundraising campaigns also. It should be ethical because it needs to ensure that the confidentiality of beneficiary information and consent are of paramount importance.

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For NGOs, storytelling is a way to achieve so many things at a time, like communicating your story to the world, appealing the donors to donate, telling the impact of your work, and asking people to connect and volunteer, and so on and so forth.

Here are a few tips for making a short video to tell a story and achieve all of the above: (Please note that this is one simple step-by-step guide about the storytelling by a video, though there are no limits to creativity and a video can be done in so many ways. Remember, there is no right or wrong here, all that matters is getting the message across in its true spirit.)

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  • First step is to find a person or story that puts in a nutshell your program intent or objective
  • Conduct in-depth interviews to understand the most significant change in the life of the person who is a beneficiary
  • Ensure that the key element in the video is an emotional touch to it (via a story), plus a ‘call-to-action’.
  • The video must start at a question or an eye-catching figure or fact or data; basically something that intrigues the person watching the video and makes him/her watch further and think about the issue
  • Next, it may take one through the story of the people impacted, in a positive tone and outlook.
  • Keep the people at the centre. Let the people speak for themselves, about how program has made a change to their lives, the befores- and- afters-, smiles, positive changes, their dreams and aspirations, what they think about their future now. Include lot of quotes while recording the video. Capture the little moments of emotional expressions of the person being interviewed. These will make the story and the video richer.
  • Optionally, the video may also feature the NGO staff or field workers bonding with the beneficiaries, the field workers speaking about the program, how they feel, their day-to-day activities.
  • In the end, it may show the overall ‘impact’ of the NGO, the big picture, in terms of numbers, total beneficiaries, etc.
  • Last but not the least, it should have a ‘call-to-action’, like how the donor may support, what the person watching the video can do to make a contribution
  • Please give the contact details like website, social media page links, address, contact number in the last second of the video.
  • Once the video is ready, you would want to make it reach the desired audience, and expanding its audience also
  • Share the video(s) on your websites and social media accounts. Make sure you also inter-link the social media platform content.

Conveying a powerful story through the medium of videos can be very effective and appealing to the donors also. Remember that the essence of the video is in the story captured, and not so much in the tools and techniques of videography. A 2-minute video recorded on a simple mobile phone camera can go viral; can get you visibility and even new donors! Just that the story must be very powerful and convincing and the story-teller a craftsman like your own NGO making a change at the grassroots.

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