Can charities afford to not invest in filming?

On Tuesday night I volunteered at City Rocks, a fundraising concert held in aid of the Lord Mayor’s appeal which this year is raising money for children’s charity Coram and disaster relief agency RedR. During the interval a short film about the work of the two charities was shown. 

A smokescreen for a set change or a unique opportunity to capture the imaginations of a room full of wealthy and influential people? Clearly that is a leading question! But a few minutes later as the auctioneer got the bidding on a Caribbean holiday edging towards the £12,000 mark with the words “think about the film people, think about the film”, I was reminded of the power film has to inspire and engage people in a cause. 

For many supporters seeing the work of their charity brought to life on film is the closest they will ever get to the work they help fund and it can make for inspiring and moving viewing. It is tempting to think that film is a luxury in these straitened times but cost effectiveness isn’t about not spending, it’s about considering how your budget can have the greatest impact. 

While at VSO I was involved in making a film about Memory Phiri, an amazing girl from Zambia who survived a brutal rape at the age of nine that left her HIV+. VSO showed the film at a fundraising dinner and the incredible honesty with which Memory recounted her experience resulted in more than £75,000 being pledged in ten minutes. That is getting on for 15 times what it cost to make. Not a bad return on investment.

Film is also one of the simplest ways of keeping your audiences briefed about what you want them to do. I have just produced a film for CLIC Sargent to support the roll out of Kick!, the annual football fundraiser.

The film will be used to brief participants and support PR activity and in less than four minutes it captures the experiences of teachers and children who’ve taken part before, a skills training session from a freestyle football champion and includes information on how to sign up. All the information a teacher who is planning this summer’s activities needs to make up their mind to support this campaign and it’s easy to share on social networks.

So the real question is can you afford not to invest in film?