Brand Building: Video for a Nonprofit’s Narrative


Many arts and culture organizations are not-for-profit, and since fundraising is the lifeblood of these crucial organizations, fundraising tactics should be as innovative and original as the core mission. There is no better way to connect with donors and build your nonprofit’s brand than with video. Brella had the opportunity to craft a custom video for a nationally-recognized, Chicago-based dance theatre’s fundraising efforts, and we’d like to share what strategic tactics you can use to showcase your nonprofit’s narrative.

Tell Your Organization’s Story

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater is a center for Spanish dance, located in the Northeastern Illinois University campus. Ensemble tours nationally and internationally, maintains a pre-professional training academy, and offers courses for college credit and to the public at large—all in honor of the history and culture of Spain. They specialize in three types of Spanish dance: Classical, Folkloric, and Flamenco.

That’s all well and good on paper, but what if you could show that instead of just telling? Video marketing was perfect for Ensemble, because they have a powerful and visually stunning story to show. They were looking for a documentary-based style, but with an artistic flair to match Ensemble’s personality and tell their story the way stories unfold on their stage. This show vs. tell technique demonstrates the impact of an organization without needing a brochure to back it up.

Be Authentic: Feature Those You Serve

A video that shows how your organization connects and contributes to the greater community through the lives it changes is an authentic, compelling strategy to stir interest and promote fundraising.

Bearing this in mind, we knew it would be important to feature the members of the community who have received the benefits gained from joining Ensemble. The video for Ensemble highlighted how their community of student and professional dancers give back to Chicago and support the next generation of dance enthusiasts.

“We wanted to hear the dancers’ real stories, in their own words, and to connect with them on a more personal level,” stated Brella’s Director of Video, Dave Less. “So after each interview, we filmed them dancing alone on stage, in slow motion with a floating camera. This footage created a very intimate, backstage feel—quite different from the splendor and power of the formal performance footage—that blended wonderfully with their personal stories in the edit.”

After a handful of live screenings of the finished fundraiser video, including at the Auditorium Theater in downtown Chicago, Ensemble publicly released the long form version we produced for them. This spotlight on the company’s dancers is part of Ensemble Español’s Raised in Chicago, Ready for the World campaign, which will increase their educational programming, build a permanent performance troupe, and support The American Spanish Dance and Music Festival. Check it out!

Connect with Your Target Audience

A compelling video that concentrates on the value your organization provides helps your target audience understand and empathize with your mission. The care, detail, and time put into the creation of a custom video will show in the end product, and let your donors know that their support will be met with the same care and attention.

Video is also a highly shareable piece of content that will allow your target audience to become ambassadors of your organization. The more your video is shared on social media, the wider the reach. Ensemble, for instance, now has a lovely showcase for their company that visually tells the story of their artform, the lives they touch with it, and the lasting impact they want to make on the world.

All with the flair of flamenco!