Published: 23rd September 2023

How to Use Video to Boost Your University Fundraising

In the competitive arena of university fundraising, capturing the attention and hearts of potential donors is paramount. Video, with its dynamic and emotionally engaging format, has emerged as one of the most effective tools for achieving these goals. From storytelling to showcasing impact, this blog explores innovative video techniques that can significantly enhance fundraising efforts for universities.

  1. Storytelling That Resonates

At the core of every successful fundraising video is a compelling story. Stories that highlight personal experiences, transformations, and real-world impacts of donations can resonate deeply with alumni and potential donors, motivating them to contribute to the cause.

Technique: Use a narrative arc that features students or faculty who have directly benefited from fundraising efforts. Show the journey of a scholarship recipient from financial uncertainty to academic achievement and future career success.

Example: The University of Chicago uses mini-documentaries to tell the stories of scholarship recipients, detailing how financial aid enabled them to pursue their dreams. These videos have been instrumental in increasing alumni contributions to scholarship funds.

  1. Demonstrating Impact with Before-and-After Scenarios

Donors want to see where their money is going and how it is making a difference. Videos that visually demonstrate the impact of donations can be incredibly persuasive.

Technique: Create before-and-after scenarios in your videos. For instance, show the transformation of an outdated library into a state-of-the-art learning center with funds raised from previous campaigns.

Example: Cornell University showcased the renovation of its engineering facilities through a time-lapse video in its fundraising campaign, effectively demonstrating how past donations have modernized the campus.

  1. Featuring Testimonials from Beneficiaries and Donors

Testimonials are a powerful way to build credibility and emotional appeal. Featuring voices from both beneficiaries of the funds and the donors themselves can create a persuasive narrative that encourages others to contribute.

Technique: Include interviews with students and faculty who have benefited from funded projects, alongside donors who express satisfaction and pride in seeing the tangible results of their contributions.

Example: Stanford University regularly features donor testimonials in its fundraising videos, which not only highlight the satisfaction of giving back but also help prospective donors see the community they’re joining.

  1. Using Virtual Reality and 360° Videos

Virtual reality (VR) and 360° videos can immerse viewers in environments and situations they wouldn’t otherwise experience, making them powerful tools for empathy and engagement.

Technique: Use VR to transport potential donors to parts of the campus or specific projects that need funding. Let them “experience” the outcomes their donations could achieve.

Example: MIT uses 360° videos to give donors a virtual tour of laboratories and research facilities in need of funding, allowing them to see up close the cutting-edge research their donations would support.

  1. Creating Urgency with Real-Time Fundraising Thermometers

Incorporating real-time elements into fundraising videos can create a sense of urgency and excitement that encourages immediate action.

Technique: Embed a live fundraising thermometer in your video streams during fundraising events to track progress towards the goal. This can motivate donors to contribute on the spot to help reach the target.

Example: During the University of Florida’s annual giving day, live-streamed videos updated viewers with real-time donation totals, spurring a wave of contributions as donors saw how close they were to achieving the fundraising goal.

  1. Offering a Call to Action

Every fundraising video should end with a clear, compelling call to action. This is the step where you convert viewers’ emotional engagement into concrete contributions.

Technique: Be specific about what you want viewers to do next. Offer easy, direct links to donation pages, and suggest specific amounts to give, making the process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Example: The University of Pennsylvania ends its fundraising videos with a direct appeal from the university president, followed by an on-screen link to its donation page, which simplifies the donation process for viewers.

Video is a versatile and powerful medium that can significantly boost university fundraising efforts. By leveraging storytelling, demonstrating impact, utilizing innovative technologies like VR, and effectively guiding potential donors towards making a contribution, universities can not only meet but exceed their fundraising targets. As video technology evolves, so too will the opportunities for creative and impactful fundraising strategies, helping institutions secure the necessary resources to advance their missions and serve their students.


Hatty Wilmoth

Hatty is the Marketing Manager for Maia Films. Passionate about all things video related, Hatty loves creating content, delving into the challenges of SEO and brainstorming with the team. When not orchestrating marketing campaigns, Hatty can be found exploring London markets, firing up the pizza oven or trying her hand at pottery.