Reaping great testimonials

At a recent thank-you event for major donors, the host (nonprofit) invited attendees (perhaps pre-selected, but it didn’t appear that way) to step over to a corner and say something about why they give to the organization. In the corner was a professional videographer set up with lights, reflective umbrellas, camera to capture your words. He was a charming young man (familiar with the organization) who pinned a microphone to your jacket and then asked you opener questions:

  • Tell me what you think is the most important reason to support XYZ.
  • Which program interests you most?
  • How did you first learn about XYZ?

The guests wandered over to the set-up as they wanted to, submitted to the microphone and lights, and said some of the most wonderful things. (They did sign a permission.) Those guests who didn’t want to participate, just didn’t.

In this way the organization captured lots of “impromptu” endorsements from their most valued and articulate donors, from which they crafted a two-minute video which could be used in many situations to encourage others to give.

In the final product, the speakers were all relaxed, candid, and smiling. Special personal reasons for giving were captured. Rambling and stilted comments could be edited out. Community leaders were shown as donors, without mentioning their names; what they said was not a canned and rehearsed testimonial, but spoken from the heart.

I imagine the nonprofit netted wonderful testimonials that would never have been captured with a formal request from the director of development and staged in a business office.

Couples spoke together, family members of clients, business leaders, foundation types—offering a wide variety of reasons for giving. In the editing, the video moved at a nice speed from one speaker to the next, capturing only the “juiciest” of what was said, and probably sequenced to create the desired effect. What the donor-speakers highlighted no doubt included some messages especially appealing to other people like themselves—who will step up and donate in the near future.

A creative approach to an old workhorse is always refreshing.

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