Creative Video for Fundraising Success


  • Strengthened the school’s brand identity by creating an emotional connection with current families and alumni
  • Increased donations to the Severn Annual Fund 20% over previous years halfway into the campaign
  • Increased traffic to giving pages by 50%

Campaign Kick Off Video

The Severn School development office approached me about creating a video to kick off the Annual Fund campaign with three weeks to complete — I had to think and act quickly. The first segment of the campaign was targeted toward current parents so with the start of the school year underway and a full schedule of other communications projects in the queue, my challenge was to create a unique product in a short amount of time that would resonate with each of Severn’s families.

Workflow and Tools

Without time to script, storyboard, shoot and edit a narrative video, I used existing footage that I had gathered throughout the previous year — bits and pieces from other projects — and relied on powerful voice-over to shape the story. I created a script that answers the following questions while making a strong emotional connection to Severn’s parent audience:
  • What is the Severn Annual Fund
  • Why is it important for the school community
  • What are the core tenets of the Severn community?
  • How does a Severn education benefit its students?

I enlisted a current student and teacher for the voice-over to further connect Severn’s audience with the content.

I created this video using footage shot with a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera, edited with Adobe Premiere Pro and finished with graphics using Adobe After Effects. Each shot connects with a different portion of our parent audience while showcasing the core values of Severn School. The video visually represents Severn’s mission of character, conduct, and scholarship while highlighting the camaraderie and mentorship that makes a Severn education so special.

Your team continues to do a wonderful job with video messaging. There’s so much heart in them. It truly makes me teary-eyed to be a part of someplace so special.

— Severn School parent

Moving With Momentum

To capitalize on the buzz of the kick-off video, the next stage in the strategic plan was to follow up with weekly e-newsletters including photography and video featuring student-led initiatives. These follow-up videos are meant to “show” families the Severn story and bolster their confidence in supporting the Annual Fund. I created this video using footage shot entirely with my iPhone and a Zhiyun-Tech Smooth-Q Smartphone Gimbal. I edited it with Premiere Pro and finished with the same branded After Effects graphics that I used in the kick-off video.

Engaging All Constituencies

To kick off the second segment of the campaign targeting alumni, I created this call-to-action video using one of the school’s most beloved former faculty members. We had recently received a large alumni donation and wanted to use that energy to spur other alumni to join the campaign. Señor Domenech was on campus to speak at the school’s Founders Day Assembly so I quickly pulled him aside afterward and shot this impromptu interview using my iPhone and gimbal. I worked with the school archivist to find photos of Sr. Domenech during his tenure at Severn, edited them together with the interview, and incorporated dynamic captions to emphasize the purpose of the video. While other videos in the campaign focus on Severn as it is today, this video has a more nostalgic feel to capture the attention of former students.

As the end of the campaign approached, I created short, reminder videos using humor to keep our campaign top of mind, while providing entertaining content. This video shows Severn’s Upper School Dean of Students giving students the evil-eye for not wearing their school uniform shoes, dirty bucks. This video serves as somewhat of an inside joke for more recent members of the Severn community, simultaneously targeting alums who have graduated in the last ten years and current families.