The world of fundraising certainly has a strong appreciation for impactful storytelling. At Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children we rely on emotionally engaging and powerful videos to draw people into our mission. It’s how we showcase the hospitals’ impact in our community and how we communicate results to our donors. We’ve been at this for a few years and have gleaned a lot of insight from producing videos. When we started creating our strategy and processes for capturing powerful stories and sharing them through video we expected we would create online engagement and garner great reactions online from viewers. But along the way we started to realize a positive impact in areas that we weren’t expecting to see change.
Engaging families in the process
When we begin a video project we spend a good bit of time talking with the family or patient that will be the focus of the story. We ask a lot of questions about their life, their experience with the hospital and what they hope their story will mean to people who will see it. That sounds like a pretty standard way of researching an planning for a story. What we didn’t plan for was all of the other questions, ideas, suggestions and feedback we hear from families on a regular basis. The feedback ranges from how to make admissions run smoother to what messages they felt other families would like to see in our videos. The ideas and feedback from families have become foundational elements of our storytelling and approach to videos.
Two themes that emerged early on were:
- Parents want to see, in great detail, what the treatment process looks like so that they’ll be prepared when each step takes place.
- They want to see/hear/experience a story of hope of someone who went through the same their child is facing, and made it through with a positive outcome.
Another unexpected benefit of engaging families during their treatment process is that we’ve been able to connect them to grateful patient related fundraising earlier than we have before. Most Foundations have grateful patient initiatives that begin contact with patients a few months after they’ve left the hospital. We have a program like that. These programs are great and when executed the right way can produce great results. But, through our storytelling process and engaging families in fundraising events during their treatment we’re seeing a deeper level of engagement.
A recent example is our crowdfunding event called Arnie’s March Against Children’s Cancer. This event was started and is led by families whose children have received or are currently receiving treatment in our oncology program. This year we wanted to invite participants, donors and families to join the fundraising effort by showcasing our patients in a series of 15 second video vignettes. We filmed with five families and asked them each to explain why they “march” with us against childhood cancer.
You can see the compilation of these vignettes here:
The results were much better than we expected. We released each 15 second video separately for 6 weeks leading up to the event. On Facebook alone the combined views for all of the videos was more than 50,000. The response to these stories was incredible and people shared the video more than any other content we’ve ever produced for this event. Beyond the views we connected with several families that we had not engaged before. They’ve become advocates for us and now have a short video to use when they share their experience with friends and families. And by using a small group of families to invite people to participate to the event we saw an increase in the number of hospital employees involved and an increase overall with the number of people at the event.
The families that we engaged for the videos now have a deeper understanding of why the hospital needs fundraising and how that money can be raised. They’re understanding that they can easily be part of building support for the hospital and program that they benefit from. It gives them a sense of pride to go back to the unit each time knowing that they are helping provide for its future. They know when they finish treatment that the families that come after them will have a place to receive compassionate care. When you’re connecting with someone to capture their story have some ideas ahead of time for how they might be able to provide value beyond sharing their story. You’ll be surprised how eager most people are to jump in and help in various. They might jut need to be asked.
This guest post was contributed by Michael Schmidt, MBA. Michael is the Vice President of Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation, where he is responsible for driving communications, engagement, content marketing and digital philanthropy strategy.