I have produced a lot of nonprofit videos over the years. Their primary purpose was to motivate potential donors to give. Some were received very well; others not so much. A well-known Hollywood producer I once met told me that making a hit is a hit-and-miss experience… sometimes you strike gold and sometimes tin. His words of wisdom have stuck with me.

Today, creating a hit video is really not the point. It is all about being in the moment and in front of your audience frequently and in powerful, real ways. The rules of engagement have changed. It no longer makes sense to invest heavily in one single, high production values video and hope it resonates with your potential donors sufficiently to warrant the time, money and talent put to the task. While centerpiece videos have a place in your marketing mix, they no longer can nor should consume the largest pieces of your time or budget.

Today, smart nonprofits are producing videos all the time. Quick, short, shot on the fly by staff and volunteers in the field who know how to use a handheld camera and have figured out that authenticity and immediacy are more valuable than productions that take months of effort before anyone sees them.

This video produced by the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake is a good example of what I mean.

Or, this video shot by a collaboration of faith-based organizations working in Haiti that included the efforts of the American Jewish World Service.

Or this one from the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism or this Community Serves video from JChoice.org.

All of these examples – all are posted on YouTube, by the way – make it clear that a strong video message is within your grasp and your budget.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional who currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.

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