Playing the Long Game: It’s Not As Hard As You Think

By Josh Gold

Some videos produce results that are easy to quantify.

Or at least – relatively easy, once you’re familiar with how to read the metrics. If you include a video in your invitation to your annual dinner, you can keep track of how often that video was opened; how many minutes people kept watching; even how often viewers vs. non-viewers clicked the “sign up” or “donate” buttons. You can add up hits and dollars and get a good sense of where you stand.

Because we can make clear, easily supported arguments about their impact, videos with these kinds of immediate results tend to be an easier sell – both for yourself, and for your board or your boss. If you want to be able to justify your budget or prove your worth, it’s tempting to lean on the numbers that are readily available and easily understood.

You should be aware, though, that some of the most valuable video marketing efforts don’t fall into that category.

For example:

  • Viral ads, i.e. catchy videos that attract attention and raise your profile, getting your brand out there. These videos have the potential to reach a much wider audience and give you a huge boost down the line, but they’re also good for little more than an initial introduction. You’ll still have to do the work of converting these leads before you can ask for anything too demanding. It may be a while before you earn back your investment.
  • Reengagement, or the kind of outreach that reinforces your connection with your supporters. This work is about making them feel valued and appreciated, making them feel like part of the team, so that your fundraising is a natural and welcome extension of your relationship when it arrives. Think holiday greetings, updates on your activities, thank-you messages, and more. As we’ve established, engaging an existing audiences will provide a higher ROI.

Another way to think about this is short game versus long game.

While the short game is more steady and reliable, the long game has the greatest potential rewards. Both are necessary.

Let’s take that same annual event we mentioned at the start of this post, but this time, let’s think about what might happen after a year spent engaging consistently with your supporters. By the time the dinner comes around, they feel very closely connected to your organization, and your results improve accordingly.

If you sent these reengagement videos out expecting to see a strong surge in donations following each one, they may have seemed like individual failures over the course of the year. Obviously, in the aftermath of the dinner, it becomes clear that this is not the case.

That’s why it’s important not only to understand the goals of every video you make, but also how to interpret the results on their own terms.

Are people watching the videos? Are they sharing them? Are they more or less likely to open your emails over time?

Once you’ve defined success the right way, you’ll be able to not only deliver these numbers at the next board meeting – but also personally enjoy your achievements at every stage.

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.