How Video Helped a Nonprofit Raise Over $500,000 In One Night | Case Study

The Client University of Minnesota Foundation

The University of Minnesota Foundation raises funds to support the facilities, care and research that make University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

u of m foundation logo

The Challenge | Raise $200,000 During A Live Appeal

Every year, the University of Minnesota Foundation puts on an event called Winefest – A Toast To Children’s Health.

Since 1995, the event has raised more than $17 million in support of groundbreaking research, top-notch education, and innovative care at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Throughout the evening there are silent and live auctions, award presentations, and a live appeal where those in attendance are asked to make donations in support of the Children’s Health Discovery Fund.

The U of M Foundation set out to raise $200,000 in donations during the live appeal portion of this year’s event, Winefest No. 24. And that’s what they asked us to help them accomplish.

We were tasked with creating a few videos that would inspire people to donate money in support of the hospital’s research. 


“I do think it was the combination of all the videos that made a big difference!

Ashley Lawson | Development Officer | University of Minnesota Foundation

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Our Approach

We set out to create 4 videos in total:

• 1 feature video that would inspire people to rally behind the physician-researchers at the U of M who work day and night towards discovering medical breakthroughs and providing exceptional care to children. The video also needed to embody the theme of this year’s Winefest event- “Elite.” 


University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

3 award videos that would honor each of the three award recipients being recognized during the event for their outstanding service and philanthropic efforts in relation to the children’s hospital. These videos needed to tell their stories and capture the heart behind what they do.

Imagine Award
Presented to Jason and Carly Zucker
Corporate Citizen Award
Presented to Northwestern Mutual
Ambassador Award
Presented to Katie Severt and Angelique Dove Hatch

In order to ensure the videos would help reach their goal, we followed our three-part process for creating effective video.


Before we started filming the videos, we consulted with their organization to develop a strategy that would lead them to success.

The main objective? Inspire people to donate money.

To do that, we knew the videos would have to touch the hearts of everyone in the room. It couldn’t just inform people, it had to engage them on an emotional level.

Once the creative direction was established, the was script written, interviews coordinated, and all the shots planned out, it was time to shoot our videos.


For the feature video, we had to remain incredibly nimble as we filmed each of the physician-researchers within tight corridors with very limited time.

To keep a small footprint, we stripped our production down to include only the gear and equipment that Dan and I could each carry with our own two hands. Once on location, we had to set up in a flash and get creative in producing a compelling image despite the restrictions of space and time.

We captured the supplementary footage as we bounced from one location to the next, filming 3D-printed organs and cancer-fighting research, which kept us feeling humbled and amazed at the incredible work being done right here in our city.

And to top things off, we were privileged enough to have none other than Cory Hepola of WCCO visit our studio and lay down the voiceover track for our video. He had the perfect voice to match the strength and boldness of our script, and was one of the nicest people we’ve ever met.

For the award videos, we weren’t working with such tight restrictions for the interviews. And most of the supplementary footage was of photos that we had printed and then filmed at our studio. It took six total days to capture everything we needed during production.

Lastly, we chose and licensed music tracks that helped give our videos the right tone, and then we pieced all the footage and audio together in the editing process. The end result was four videos that we’re really proud of.



Online platforms normally play the primary role in our distribution plans but for this video they were secondary.

We planned to premiere the videos on Saturday night at Winefest No. 24. The award videos would be played right before each recipient was given their award. And the feature video was scheduled to play just prior to the live appeal, a point in the evening where attendees are asked to make donations right on the spot. 

So once Saturday night arrived, the award videos were played first. Then once the time came for the live appeal, a captive audience of wine aficionados and people devoted to children’s health paused their conversations and the room became silent as our feature video began to play. 

And what happened next was incredible. 

The Results | Record-Setting Generosity

Case Study Stats transparent

The goal was to raise $200,000 during the live appeal. And they crushed it, raising nearly triple that amount. Not only was a new record set for money raised during the live appeal, but also for money raised overall from the entire event!

We feel honored to have been a part of this whole effort and to have met so many inspiring people along the way. We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in this project!

Here’s a statement from Masonic Children’s Hospital to its participants shortly after the conclusion of Winefest:

“Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel after the 24th annual WineFest​. Thanks to your astounding support we were able to raise $1.2 million this year to support the life-saving research and medicine delivered at our hospital.”

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 help you accomplish your goals.

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