Higher Education Fundraising: Consider Video

A university is a brand just like any other company or corporation. That’s why higher education deserves the same attention when it comes to crafting branded content.


When producing video for higher education – we have a few tips on how to match your marketing goals with your execution. You want to make sure you’re getting maximum ROI when working with video, so make sure your story is good and your goals are clear.



When Targeting Alumni…


Any university knows that alumni have a lot of power. Not only are they walking advertisements for the school, but they also contribute a hefty sum through donations.


And,  alumni want to stay involved as well. That’s why the average annual alumni giving percentage can get as high as 60% for some schools. Alumni want to keep connected with their university and want to feel recognized by a place they strongly associate with.


This is why creating branded video that targets alumni specifically is essential for higher education advertising success. But how do you do it, and do it right?


Here’s one example:


GW set out with the goal raise awareness of the university’s 200th anniversary philanthropic campaign – specifically looking for alumni contributions. This video turns GW alum’s individual achievements into a reflection of the university. That strategy creates an inspiring message, leaving the target audience with a sense of pride to be associated with the school.



The video includes stories of GW alumni and current students, emphasizing the word “we” throughout. This merged the successes of current and past students, connecting all audiences by the common thread of being a GW Colonial.



So here’s a major tip: when communicating with an audience that wants to stay connected and feel recognized, foster a sense of community by keeping an alumni audience just as involved as current students.




Reaching Past Your Immediate Community


Obviously not all funds raised for higher education come from alums. It’s important to keep every audience in mind when creating a general fundraising campaign.


When you aren’t specifically targeting alumni, you need to broaden your strategy.


That’s what Johns Hopkins did in this campaign video.



In order to receive recognition from a wider audience, the video focused on how Johns Hopkins impacted the community and global health. By expanding their audience, the school increased its importance from local scale, to national, to global – and that generates results. The motion graphics that provided visuals to this concept didn’t hurt, either.



Our takeaway here is that when you’re not specifically targeting members of your university’s community, you have think about how your university has made a greater impact, and then develop a video that shows that. In the case of Johns Hopkins, they utilized motion graphics, scripts, and historical footage.


So here’s the tip: know your target, know your message, and create the content that will resonate the most accordingly. If broadening the scope of your message is necessary, look for ways to relate your university to greater issues.



On-Campus Events


Finally, we ask this: what gets people more excited than sports? Very few things.


A fundraising event centered on sports is never a bad idea. An even better idea is producing a video of the event that will continue to sell the fundraising campaign, and the team, after the event has come and gone.


That’s what GW did for their Men’s Basketball team:


In the video, there was a strong focus on alumni – but this type of video is strikingly different from the other GW example we showed earlier.


This video doesn’t rely on professional accomplishments or selling alumni as a product of the school – it is  focused on depicting the strength of the school’s community through the sports team.


This video is made up of footage from the event and interviews with impassioned fans, and it gives off a vibe of excitement, pride, and fun. In fact, little of the video gave off the impression that the school was trying to ask you to donate. Don’t discount the power that good video and exciting content has on engaging viewers to consider your ultimate goal.


When it comes to creating a fundraising campaign video for higher education, it can be tricky. No one wants to put their money where they don’t think it will be valued – so here’s our final tip: let your audience know their contribution means as much to you as it does to them by showing exactly where their money goes.

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