Am I Breaking My Own Rules? When it’s Okay to Reuse Videos

By Josh Gold

I know I’m always beating the drum for not overextending videos. Videos work best when they’re created with specific goals in mind; trying to cram in too much, or reusing a video made for a particular audience, often does more harm than good.

This is probably a familiar refrain by now. In fact, given how often I’ve spoken about it, the topic of today’s post might surprise you: how to make a video that is designed for multiple uses.

I know! It was unexpected for me, too.

But the truth is, it’s a little more nuanced than just: “Don’t reuse videos.” That is a good rule of thumb; on the other hand, once you understand the underlying reasons for it, you can start to see where it makes sense to apply it – and where you can reap some savings by getting the most out of a single video without compromising on the effectiveness of your marketing.

An audience divided across platforms

Some organizations appeal to a diverse audience and use multiple videos to speak to all their various concerns. For others, the demographics aren’t divided only by their interests, but by where and how you interact with them.

A school, for example, may run an online crowdfunding event to reach out to the larger community and, simultaneously, conduct private meetings with big donors. There’s a good chance they’ll want to make the same – or almost the same – pitch in both contexts. As long as the audience doesn’t overlap, using the same video is just good sense.

Remember, though, to adapt your call to action for each occasion.

This is a deceptively simple touch that delivers a huge impact. If you’re showing the video at a dinner, you might end with a title card that thanks the guests for coming; if viewers are, on the other hand, encountering the video online after clicking through from social media, that would hardly be appropriate. In that case, the title card should encourage them to donate, sign up, or whatever other follow-up you have in mind.

Recycling the wrong CTA makes you seem unprepared, whereas the right one harnesses the emotions stirred by the video and directs them towards concrete results.

Same message, different goals

For a lot of organizations, your past successes are the most persuasive argument you can make, regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish. Whether you’re trying to attract new students or impress new donors, the things you’ve achieved are what prove that you are a worthy investment, whether of someone’s money or of their school career. You are the most important part of the message.

This created a fantastic opportunity on a fundraising video I worked on recently, where we realized that with a few tweaks, the content of the video would work just as well as a recruitment tool. We broke down the numbers and discovered that for an increase of about 10% of the existing project budget, and a little more filming time, the school could walk away with two videos in hand instead of one. While they couldn’t just repurpose the same video – the messaging required for each situation wasn’t identical – it was awfully close.

Making the most of the overlap

Sometimes, you simply can’t find a way to reuse the same video. Based on the audience, the setting, or the ask, you really do need significantly different films. An NPO dedicated to saving the rainforest wouldn’t, for example, be able to use the same messaging to pitch to both environmentalists and the local tourism board. Their investment in the cause is too different.

At the same time, many of the visuals or sound bites may well carry over from one to the next. (It would make sense for the the organization to feature footage of the forest itself in both videos.)

If you have a good sense of your audiences, their sensitivities and needs, you can put together a plan that lets you create several videos with tremendous efficiency. With the right plan, you can capture a different focus in each one without needing to start from scratch every time.

In fact, whether you’re making one video with different title cards or multiple videos that capitalize on the same footage, the first step is to have a plan. Know how you want to use the video, and you’ll be able to consult with your production company about how to make the required modifications for little to no money.

If you’re part of a larger organization, think about contacting other departments and planning out your videos together. There may be significant overlap between your needs, and you’ll be able to produce a lot more content by coordinating. You can all chip in on the budget, and then you can all benefit from the results.

Think it’s worth the extra effort? Let us know.

Josh Gold, owner of Serio Films, has helped nonprofits raise millions of dollars through video-based marketing. You can follow Josh and his team over at and To get more discussions like these right to your inbox, sign up for their newsletter.