Allison is a documentary film and nonprofit communications professional. She has supported PBS, ESPN and festival award winning films, and she has produced media for organizations that aid immigrants and refugees, inner city youth and the violently oppressed.
She is passionate about using video and multimedia to tell the stories of social justice work and is interested in helping organizations take advantage of the opportunities different media provide. See the Nonprofit Media Blog listed to the left for a collection of resources she has profiled.
She has previously worked in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Nashville but is now based in New York.
The DoGooder Video Awards is a fantastic way to highlight your organization’s videos and to see what other nonprofits are doing with digital media.
See3, one of my favorite organizations creating multimedia for nonprofits, puts the contest on every year, and it has grown in size as well as impact over the years. In partnership with YouTube and NTEN, this year’s contest is now accepting submissions. Head over to the DoGooder Awards YouTube page to see past winners and entries!
Participating in the contest will expose the good work your team has been doing and give you new ideas for what works well in the nonprofit video field. See how other organizations are making fundraising pitches and telling their stories in visually compelling ways.
If you have ever tried to make a basic video for your organization or campaign, you may know the headache that comes with finding accompanying music.
Videos are more interesting and digestible when there is consistent sound in the background. If you have really good mics and audio, you may have clean enough room tone (the background wssshhhh a room makes, humming with machinery, etc.), but usually you want to put a song behind your speakers so it’s not so jarring between audio and silence. Or you may not have any speaking and need something to keep your video interesting instead of a silent parade of images.
If you don’t think it’s a headache to find music and are wondering why we don’t all just go into iTunes and grab the song that fits the best, you might want to research copyrights and licenses. They’re kind of a big deal, and if you want to present your organization in the best light you’ll follow the rules and use public domain tunes or license your music.
Vimeo Music Store to the rescue! Vimeo saw the struggle their users were having with finding songs to put with their videos. Often people used copyrighted popular music and just credited the artist. If you do this, you lose the ability to use the video for marketing or really put it out there because it’s not legal to use that pop song without the artist/label/someone’s permission. I’m not taking the time to go into the intricacies of this legal situation, but I am here to let you know about resources that allow you to sidestep the mire.
The store has free tracks but you can also search by price range. Or search by genre, tempo, theme, mood, or instrument. Vimeo has a great FAQ section that should clarify any questions you have.
Mostly, the good folks over at Vimeo HQ just wanted to give their users what they needed.
We wanted to provide a place where our users can find music that they can put in their videos. Unlike music that you might download from a store for personal listening purposes, the Music Store allows you to find music that you can license for use in videos.
If your video is advertising a local block party only your family and friends are going to see, you may risk it and use your favorite pop song anyway. But at least now you know there are places to find licensable tracks. Happy listening!
I love Vimeo. It’s a beautifully executed video sharing site with a super clean design, a smaller and more navigable community than YouTube, and a focus on high quality video production.
At first glance, Vimeo may seem like a club for amateur and professional HD filmmakers and animators to share their work, but there is a lot the site can offer a nonprofit looking to up their media game.
The most obvious resource the site provides to individuals and groups trying to refine their video presentation is their Video School.
“Vimeo Video School is a fun place for anyone to learn how to make better videos.”
Starting in December 2010, the school has grown from a handful of starter tutorials put up by the staff to over a hundred well crafted video guides submitted by users. Lessons range from the general (Video 101: Shooting Basics) to the super specific (How to do a Sky Replacement with Adobe After Effects CS5) and staff and active members are really good about responding to comments and questions you may have.
Here’s one with some basic tips for shooting video with a DSLR camera:
If you feel like your org just doesn’t have the skills to create a compelling video, sit an intern or your communications director down in front of Vimeo Video School and let the learning begin. Sometimes it seems like nonprofits use the excuses of spending time and money elsewhere to justify lower quality video and photo products. But with a resource like this, there’s no place for excuses. You can create videos that tell the stories that matter most to your audience without hindering the message with poor execution. Isn’t that exciting?!
And who knows, after you become a super Vimeo user, maybe you’ll start submitting your own tutorials that somehow sneakily highlight your organization’s work in the background…
Check back for a profile of the Vimeo Music Store. If you’ve ever needed music for a project, you know it can be a confusing hassle finding something appropriate and legal to use. See you soon!
Today’s the last day of YouTube week here on the blog and I want to leave you with some inspiration for how you can leverage video for your cause in exciting and innovative ways.
As of the writing of this blog, the Girl Effect website is structured such that when you first visit you are prompted with a question. Either answer you choose, you are immediately led to their fantastic graphic video. With very little else going on, the site pulls you in because you want to keep watching. The video is hosted on YouTube so it’s easily embeddable and spreadable, and it has hundreds of thousands of views at this point.
From their website:
The Girl Effect is a movement. It’s about the unique and indisputable potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. It was created by people at the Nike Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, but it’s about you using your voice, your talents, and your community to help girls help themselves—and, as a result, everybody else. It’s about giving you the tools and the network you need to spread the word about what girls can do and, with a little elbow grease, change the world.
Hope you’re inspired by their innovative use of video as well as the great cause they’re promoting!
Thursdays here at the blog will be dedicated to an outside tutorial or free resource to help build up your organization’s assets to draw on when you want to create media. This week being YouTube week, I want to share this free webinar led by Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications in Chicago. It’s from two years ago, but I’ve found it to be really helpful and relevant on why YouTube’s Nonprofit Program is good news.
A new installment to the blog will be giving a shout out to organizations or other blogs that I find really helpful in thinking about creating media for nonprofits.
Since it’s YouTube week and I’ve been talking a lot about annotations, I thought I would highlight the Portnoy Media Group. Dan Portnoy’s blog post on annotations helped me when I was first started to get creative with including links to external websites for nonprofits. Their work creating videos for the Union Rescue Mission will hopefully inspire you to think about ways to engage your audience further into your video series or work in general.
From their site:
The Portnoy Media Group exists as a collective of those who want to make a difference in the nonprofit industry, brought together under one idea: that communication should be genuine – no rock stars, no prima donnas. We strive to be creators of quality communications on the web, in film, broadcast, print and in music.
Sounds good to me! For more tips in bolstering your communications, check out their blog, the Lab.
Day 2 of YouTube week here on the blog = a how to guide to take full advantage of using annotations in your videos. We’ll check out different types of annotations you can use and best practices for making them attractive instead of distracting.
Since some of you are members of YouTube’s Nonprofit Program but others of you aren’t yet or can’t be (see yesterday’s post for more information) so this post will have tiers of usability. If you don’t qualify for a nonprofit channel, follow all the text in black. If you do have a nonprofit page, read the black text but take note of the additional perks you have in blue.
The spotlight tool is my favorite for a nonprofit video because it’s super versatile– it can have no characteristics of its own but still create a linkable hotspot. Or you can give it a border and text that appears when scrolled over.
A speech bubble is a fairly common annotation on YouTube; I wouldn’t recommend it for nonprofit videos unless you can really pull off ironic.
A pause is used to stop your video and could be useful if you want to hover on text or a certain compelling image and don’t have the means or time to do any editing to a video offline.
A note is like a classy speech bubble that can pop up or remain as long as you want on top of you video.
The titler does just that– allows you to create a title card for your video that you can put at the beginning or wherever you want for however long you want (“Awesome Video You’re About to Watch”). I would recommend not using this annotation tool unless you’re really pressed for time or editing software. YouTube titles are pretty easy to recognize and it gives the impression you didn’t care enough to think a little more about your packaging. But, in a pinch or if you’re quickly uploading tons of videos from a conference one after the other or something, it could be really helpful and fine.
On all of these, you can play with the background color, text size and font and duration of its existence. Here’s a helpful tutorial:
Now, I’m going to double back to the spotlight tool because I think it offers SO MUCH to the nonprofit world. It’s an exciting tool for your marketing, outreach and fundraising teams because it enables you to get creative and engage your audience deeper into your work than one simple video would.
Since the spotlight annotation can create a hotspot on top of your YouTube video without blocking anything like a note or speech bubble would, you can use it in all kinds of interesting ways. For pages that aren’t within the YouTube Nonprofit Program, annotations can link only to things within YouTube. But don’t get disheartened, you can still get creative in linking to your subscribe button or other videos of yours.
Think about if you have a series, maybe a bunch of videos of people who work for your organization all explaining why they love the mission and work. How cool would it be if at the end of each little 30 second or so spot you had that person ask if you next wanted to hear from the CEO, the volunteer or the donor and you created little button graphics that popped up as they asked? Then you could create spotlight annotations around each of those graphics that would each link to those three different videos. It’s like choose your own adventure learning about your organization!
For organizations that are enrolled in the YouTube Nonprofit program, you have the perk of being able to link to an external website from your annotations. This opens up a whole other realm of possibilities: embedded “Donate Now” buttons, “Buy this elephant’s painting” (elephant sanctuaries!), or even something like learn more about different types of cancers by clicking on different body parts within your video by putting spotlight hotspot boxes around the lungs, etc. as your speaker talks in the video. At the end of all your videos you can put your organization’s url using the title tool or spotlight tool allowing viewers to immediately click to your site after becoming emotional/intrigued/motivated by your video. So much potential!
Check out this video from Stillerstrong for some ideas of what you can do by creating graphics before you upload your video to YouTube and then using annotations to link from them:
For more information and examples of good uses of annotations, check back tomorrow for my Community shoutout to the Portnoy Media group and their work with the Union Rescue Mission.
If you’re looking to improve your nonprofit’s video presence and have yet to sign up for YouTube’s Nonprofit Program, hold the phones and go do that right now.
Did you do it? Need more convincing or some guidance? No worries, I have a lot to say about this program and almost all of it is good (see the bottom of this post for my thoughts on what’s not so good about it). I’ll keep this overview brief and delve into specifics in later posts.
YouTube’s Nonprofit Program debuted as a Clinton Global Initiative commitment in September of 2007 to give nonprofits a competitive chance to stand out and engage their audiences. The program allows 501(c)(3) organizations to apply via an online form to qualify for certain perks that standard YouTube users aren’t afforded.
Perks of being a nonprofit page:
No ads! No advertisements will pop up on top of or play before your videos.
Call to Action overlays
Linkable sidebar images
Customizable information boxes
Stay tuned for some ‘how-to’ posts in the near future walking you through how to fully take advantage of each of these perks and for tips on how to use them in engaging, non-annoying ways. When I worked at the International Justice Mission, I oversaw the transformation of their old YouTube page into this new version by activating their nonprofit channel and utilizing the perks within (beauty props to the graphic designers on the project).
After you’ve created your own beautiful nonprofit channel, you’ll begin to see how crucial some seemingly tiny perks are. Imagine the possibilities of being able to directly link your site’s donation page at the end of a particularly compelling video or being able to advertise seasonal campaigns and events by changing your sidebar image and embedded link?
If you can’t imagine on your own, let me paint the picture for you: you are a small nonprofit trying to bring awareness to and tackle obesity in your small town. You have a handful of volunteers with inspiring stories of how they’ve taken control of their weight and gone on to win 5 triathlons. You’ve used your iPhone to film one of them telling their story and asking others to join their weekly Saturday morning walk/jog in the park. The video is perfect and the call to join is poignent, but where does your audience go from there? They’ve watched the video on YouTube and are about to click away to watch a video advertising itself as “Cute Cats and Babies and Funny things”. You’re going to lose them before they even visit your website.
Now, what if the end of your video had a graphic that looked something like this: and it stayed like this for the final 10 seconds of the video? What if you could click that graphic and be sent straight to your organization’s website where people could sign up to get on the walking-to-fight-obesity listserv? For something that costs nothing, your impact on the community and your return is exponential.
If you really get into designing out your page and taking advantage of all the various perks, you will hit a point where you’ll see a super cool YouTube page that has pulled out all the marketing stops. Maybe it’s the Adidas or YouTube’s own Five Year channel, but you’ll see it and you’ll go, “I want to do THAT for my nonprofit”. Unfortunately some of the really fancy bells and whistles are reserved for brand channels. Brand channels are the commercial brothers of nonprofit pages on YouTube and are pretty pricy. It was a top notch move to offer such a great free upgrade for 501(c)(3) organizations, but at the same time, there is still a lot that we in the nonprofit world can wish for. Some hopes and dreams for the future of this program:
not just better but any amount of customer service/troubleshooting/help–right now there is no Google or YouTube help dedicated to the Nonprofit Program, not even a contact form
the ability to customize the page to the degree of the brand channels
quicker and more consistent turn around from application to delivery– I have heard from several nonprofits that their request to join the program was either never answered or approved and then never initiated
Despite these thoughts, I love the YouTube Nonprofit program. If you have any questions, general or super specific, about the program, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Now go join! http://www.youtube.com/nonprofits
For those of you who are familiar with Pinterest, have you ever considered how it could help you curate images and video that tell the story of your organization? If you’ve never heard of Pinterest, get ready for a new delight in your personal and professional world.
Pinterest is a social sharing site. Its framework is composed of pins and boards: pins are the images or videos you or others have found on the web and boards are the groups they are pinned to (like different brainstorming cork boards in an office). For example, I pin different videos nonprofits make and group them into categories like “Design Props” or “Use of Overlays & Annotations”. This way, I can easily share great examples with my followers as well as anyone following the overall design category.
Pinterest has spread like wildfire through social media and word of mouth, but I haven’t seen organizations taking much advantage of this great platform yet. You can see how individuals are already creating boards around nonprofit organizations and social issues, though, so why not create one intentionally highlighting videos and images that show the need for your organization. Here are some boards about “nonprofits” and as of this writing, there are 8,189 pins associated with breast cancer, 16,650 associated with climate change, 9,941 associated with hospice care, etc. It’s a fantastic pool of images and notes showing what people who are interested in different issues find compelling as well as products and projects they find interesting enough to share with others.
Ways your nonprofit can use Pinterest to your media making advantage:
research what your audience is interested in by searching key words associated with your organization
curate a board of videos and photos depicting your organization’s work–but follow Pinterest’s rule #3 and don’t use it solely for self promotion; Pinterest-ers are interested in quality, not self-aggrandizement so if you create a board depicting your work, pull in pins from sources other than yourself and get creative as you express your mission
create a board with multiple pinners from your organization who can all contribute to a collage representing your work or their interests showing why they care about your organization
find projects and people that are associated with your cause and get new ideas for your local chapter or organization
One downside is that pinning video only works with YouTube right now, but hopefully the Pinterest team will be adding Vimeo and others soon. Leave a comment if your organization is pinning and I’ll be sure to follow, and let me know if there are videos you’d like to see pinned to one of my boards– I’m always looking for good examples!
Firebelly Design and friends have opened up this year’s Grant for Good for nonprofits in Chicago. The deadline is December 2nd and you can download the application at www.grantforgood.com. Hope you get it!
“This year’s grant will include a year of free brand strategy, design + development, photography, video, space planning, organizational development, social media strategy and printing.”
Master of International Affairs at Columbia University, SIPA
International Affairs | Greater New York City Area, US
I am a strategic advocacy and media professional interested in policy work. I have 7+ years experience producing research and multimedia for organizations that aid immigrants and refugees, inner city youth, and the violently oppressed. I recently completed a Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University with a focus on Human Rights and International Media, Advocacy, and Communications.
Consultant for Inclusive Development International / Columbia Business and Human Rights Clinic
• Performed economic and social risk factor due dilegence for development projects • Researched and mapped investment chains using financial databases and traditional searches • Identified and recommended advocacy strategies for impacted communities in Southeast Asia • Acted as the Travel Coordinator for the team’s trip to the Mekong Region
Program Assistant, School of International & Public Affairs Office of Admissions & Financial Aid / Columbia University in the City of New York
• Acted as an Admissions Ambassador by calling and meeting with incoming students and working events • Wrote blog posts on my experience as a SIPA student and provided tips for applicants • Provided office support by answering prospective student emails and phone calls • Created graphics for marketing materials
WITNESS Media Lab Curation Graduate Intern / WITNESS
• Researched and analyzed curation platforms for human rights activists using video in their work • Drafted case studies on the role of cell phone video in instances of police brutality • Researched online videos of human rights issues and tools advocates use
Senior Digital Media & Webcast Specialist / The Conference Board
• Coordinated pre-production, streaming, and post-production of daily live webcasts • Produced and edited 45+ videos to highlight organizational research and worked with the Marketing department to increase social media engagement • Conducted trainings on the YouTube Nonprofit Program and video conferencing platforms
Documentary Production Outreach Coordinator / Uji Films
• Coordinated screenings of documentary films focused on social justice issues • Increased exposure of the company and its films across social media platforms
Multimedia Associate / International Justice Mission
• Completed a six month contract position to kickstart the organization’s use of video • Edited and catalogued a video library of undercover footage of human trafficking cases for internal use and for external media requests • Organized the submission of the organization’s documentary film on modern forms of slavery and economic oppression to film festivals
Freelance Digital Media Producer / Documentary Production and Nonprofit Organizations
• Provided operational support, research, and graphic design services for productions shown on PBS, ESPN, Al Jazeera, and Netflix at Kartemquin Films, Uji Films, and Archimedia Workshop • Conducted interviews with immigrant professionals and published articles and photos for the Careers for New Americans website at Upwardly Global • Co-taught documentary and narrative film to at-risk students at an alternative high school for Community TV Network
Columbia University - School of International and Public Affairs
Master of International Affairs
Human Rights & International Media, Advocacy, and Communications
Activities: Columbia University Business and Human Rights Clinic
Bachelor of Arts
Radio/TV/Film & International Relations
Activities: General Manager of the campus television station
Animation, voiceover and editing mine; illustrations and sound design separately produced.
Created to inform constituents of a religiously affiliated human rights nonprofit of progress over a year. Originally shown on a large screen at a 1000+ person conference with live instrumental music playing in the background.
Created to foster the environment of an annual update & prayer conference for a religiously affiliated nonprofit. Originally shown on a large screen at a 1000+ person conference with live instrumental music playing in the background.