The Power of Video Storytelling for Non-Profits | Video Case Study

Every year, the University of Minnesota Foundation hosts a fundraising event called FashionFest. The goal is to raise money for different programs at the Masonic Children’s Hospital, and this year they were sponsoring the Child Life Services department which provides support and education for patients and family throughout their stay at the hospital.

The Challenge | Raising Money at the Annual Fundraiser

The key to a successful fundraising event is connecting with the hearts of the participant to get them to feel and be moved by the mission of the cause. The University of Minnesota Foundation really needed a strong piece that moved the audience to action during the live call. They partnered with Blue Key Media to create an inspiring, heartfelt video story that showed the impact of Child Life Services in the lives of family and patients at the hospital.

UMN Foundation CFL Results graphics


“Our partnership with Blue Key Media has been a wonderful experience. In our landscape of pediatric healthcare, circumstances can change with a moments notice. While working with patients and families, empathy and adaptability are absolutely key to our successful storytelling strategy. Working with Dan and Mark to brainstorm goals, production, and see the story come to life through creative and succinct video has been fantastic. Our event videos have surpassed our expectations and it is clear from our audience’s reaction that the content is truly inspiring. We are so grateful for their vision and execution of beautiful videos to share the many stories of the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.”

Ashley Lawson | Development Officer | University of Minnesota Foundation

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Our Approach

To ensure the University of Minnesota Foundation’s video was successful, we followed our three-part approach for effective video marketing: Strategy, Production, and Distribution. When all three components align, we see video that results in positive outcomes and actually helps move the needle in organizations. Let’s walk through each step of the process to show how this project was done.


After talking through the vision and goals that UMN Foundation had for the project, we realized that the video needed to grab at the heartstrings of the audience and appeal to the emotions. It couldn’t just be an informational video about what Child Life Services does. The video had to feature voices from families that had been impacted personally and show how Child Life Services members interacted with children.

With the video being played just before their live appeal to the audience for donations, it had to be impactful and wow the viewer. We organized an interview with a family who had an amazing story about their experience with Child Life and set out to capture interactions between patients and specialists.

umn foundation shoot bts


We filmed the video over two days with a two-person crew, capturing testimonies from Child Life Specialists, families, and kids. We were able to capture authentic moments between staff and patients, showcasing how amazing the program was for families at the hospital.

One challenge we faced during the shoot was getting enough footage of specialists interacting with patients. Due to circumstances, it just wasn’t going to be realistic capturing as many moments as we needed, so we resorted to a unique approach. The Masonic Children’s Hospital had quite a few photos they had taken throughout the years of the program, so we printed those images out and filmed them in unique environments. This added a more organic feel to featuring images compared to digitally imposing them.


The distribution of this project was straight-forward. The primary use would be one time at the FashionFest event in November. We built an edit specifically for the event that was emotional and impactful, exactly what they needed to bring in more donations. When pairing this video with a live testimonial a family gave during the event, the results were astonishingly successful!

However, they also wanted to use the video after the event to inform patients and parents what the program was. This video was primarily meant to be educational and didn’t need to have all the emotion that the live event video needed. By knowing the distribution platforms and purpose, we were able to edit two different versions that were designed for different purposes, making them as effective as possible.


The results of the FashionFest event video was more than any of us could have asked for. It was the largest FashionFest to date, raising over $400,000 to benefit the Child Life Services program at the hospital. What’s even more amazing is that the event saw a 43% increase in giving from 2017 to 2018. Allowing guests to see first hand how the program impacted patients and families led to an extremely successful event.

The decision to invest in high-quality video for UMN Foundation’s event program paid off in dividends. It just goes to show how appealing to the hearts of an audience is a powerful decision and one of the greatest benefits of video.

Are you looking to better connect with your audience? Maybe video can help. Schedule a FREE, no-pressure consultation with one of our video experts to see how video content could accelerate your business.

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