From the moment we started showing the film ReelAid produced for us our organization changed. It was that dramatic. Our services stayed the same in terms of what we do: run health clinics for underserved and impoverished families in rural Guatemala, but the way we disseminated our mission became a breeze. Early on ReelAid suggested the video they were providing would serve both our donor base as well as our constituency. That turned out to be the case. As well as showing the video at our fundraisers, we also show it to our clientele while they are waiting to be seen by a doctor.
Wings Foundation, Guatemala
We are unique in what we do. We know of no other nonprofit that provides the essential tool of media. Done right, a media outreach package is very expensive – there is no middle ground. And we do it right because it's what we do in our professional lives.
This is an example of what a recent project was able to do. The parents of Jorge Luis Del Valle, 6 years old and hearing impaired, lived in the rural town of Mitla, Oaxaca. Friends told them about The Tehuacan School for the Deaf and encouraged the Del Valles to take Jorge there. They refused, fearful of the unknown. They were presented with the bilingual video and realized the school would be a great asset to their son. So in this case the video wasn't just for the nonprofit to raise money, it was also to educate their constituents.
The Human Touch
These days so much of communication is handled electronically. Yet face-to-face interaction remains highly effective, and treasured, as does being handed information in a tangible form. A video provides a concrete way to remember an event or organization, and to share that information with others. It creates a dynamic impact that shows effort and professionalism. Our videos educate, recruit, strategize, and motivate. Inertia dissipates; we awaken possibilities, spur interest and action.
Having two world-famous celebrities connected with our relatively small foundation brought in a tremendous amount of curiosity and interest. People wanted to know how Brad Pitt and Adrien Brody found out about us. It was just as much a novelty about them as it was a sincere interest in our work. And that led to people getting involved with our organization.
The Tehuacan Project
We are able to verify a direct correlation between our films and an increase in the donations streams funding those organizations.
Requests for Reel Aid assistance has risen to over 200% since our beginning in 2007, so far exclusively by word of mouth and web searches. Foundations providing support to our partners have contacted us directly, thanking us for making their job easier and referring us to others.
Because our documentaries are professionally produced, national and local television news programs such as, Tabloid TV - Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight and TV News, have used our footage as part of their stories on the efforts of celebrities on behalf of an organization. Our films exponentially increase public awareness, contact with potential donors, and the ability of the organization to accomplish its mission.
Measuring Our Program’s Results
The barometer we use to gauge our success is based on a multi-faceted and comprehensive inquiry based analysis - enhancing our ability to monitor the effectiveness of the video on the fundraising and growth of our partner organizations. Non-profits who receive a granted documentary from Reel Aid submit an annual evaluation report, which captures service data, narratives and financial data. We have been able to verify an increase of ten to fifteen percent in donations, resulting in greater and expanded service.
Requests for information about our potential charity partnerships have shown strong and study growth. Our own web statistics show an increase by 130 percent in the last eighteen months.
We saw an immediate change in the way people viewed our stature. The film was so well done and we realized very early on that we had to give our marketing materials a face lift to match the film. That was a challenge but its paid off very well. We knew our stuff was out-dated – but it wasn’t until we looked at the film that we took the steps we needed to take.
Because we also collaborate with Hollywood’s elite talent, we receive feedback and communication from talent managers and agents as to our effect and reputation in the industry. Their feedback has been exceptionally positive, allowing us to establish an open-door policy to A-list talent. To date, we have not had a single request for participation in one of our projects turned down by a celebrity. We understand how rare and valuable our reputation is in a town as small as Hollywood, so we make sure not to abuse our good fortune.
Another measure of our success is our ability to develop partnerships within the industry to meet our goals. Currently, we are in successful negotiations with accredited film schools (New York Film Academy, UCLA Extended Studies Entertainment Studies) and in communication with the University of Southern California and the American Film Institute to incorporate a "Film-Anthropy" project whereby a winning submission team will be awarded one of our films – overseen by us but written, filmed and edited by students.