For some universities, the idea of unique videos being sent out to each donor seems to be just that: a nice thought. But at University of Massachusetts Amherst, they put that idea into action. For their End of the Fiscal Year campaign, UMass Amherst created and sent over 900 personalized videos to donors using ThanKView.
UMass Amherst had just started using ThankView when Chelsie joined their team. Before ThankView, UMass Amherst was using more traditional channels for solicitations like phone programs, direct mail, email, and online giving days. They had never used a special, external tool like Thankview to create personalized videos for their donors and alumni.
In previous years, UMass Amherst used a cumbersome manual process to thank phone program donors with personalized videos. Once a pledge of support was received over the phone, a student would take an iPad and record a video to say thank you to the supporter. The Annual Giving team would then upload that video to a private Youtube channel and email that link to the donor.
According to Chelsie, “It was a very clunky process.” UMass sought a more user-friendly and polished way to produce and send student-made videos. It was important that each video still remained personalized to each recipient and was delivered in a way that remained fully branded.
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UMass first had to answer the question, where and how they were going to film the videos? “We work in a very small, unglamorous office so we have to make do with a tight space. We have a lot of swag from our University campus store and decorated it like a dorm room wall and got some Christmas lights for the “mood lighting”. [To record] we just use a Logitech webcam, and the software that it comes with it, and, of course, ThankView.”
Chelsie, who has a background in video, decided to provide students with a script and a few hours of training.
“If I was a student, I would make a video saying something like ‘Hi Mrs. Smith. My name is Chelsie. I wanted to thank you for your 20 years of giving as well and remind you to fulfill your pledge to support students like me. Please click the link below the video to make your gift today. Thanks again, and go UMass!’”
Students were given instructions on video best practices, like how to frame themselves in the camera, how to set up the scene, and how to change the lighting. It was also important for students to partially memorize the script so they could make direct contact with the webcam “because they're looking at the donor and as you know, it’s the recipient that’s important!”
Instead of the old multi-stepped system which included first recording the video, then uploading it to Youtube and finally emailing individual private links, ThankView streamlined the entire process. In UMass Amherst’s ThankView portal, individual videos to multiple donors are sent together in campaigns and the open rate, view count, and replies can easily be downloaded from the Metrics tab.
Besides making the recording and sending process easier for students and staff, “ThankView really sets our stewardship apart. UMass Amherst is such a large school with even a larger alumni base, and people are pleasantly surprised when they receive something so personal.”
For UMass ThankView resolved the complicated and tedious process of recording and sending videos, and because of that, UMass Amherst is able to push the limits in terms of volume and personalizing stewardship.
“It's setting us apart and it's also just one more new way that we can connect with our donors.”