How to Create Videos that Promote Social or Environmental Causes

Online video consumption trends continue to amaze. According to a Google study, 6 out of 10 people affirm that they prefer to watch videos online than to watch television. Hubspot data shows that 78% of people watch online videos every week, and according to Insivia mobile video consumption increases by 100% every year.

Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch are today the primary source of entertainment, information, and formation for a broad segment of the global population, especially young people. With such a large and continuously growing reach, video becomes the perfect vehicle to drive social and environmental causes.

The Rainforest Alliance’s Follow the Frog campaign is an excellent example of using video to advance a cause.

How to Create Videos to Promote a Cause

The question then becomes: what makes this video special, and how can other organizations create videos that drive their cause?

Follow the Frog, in addition to its high production values ​​and excellent storytelling execution, has the 4Rs (Realize, Reflect, Render, Related), a framework for the construction of campaigns or communication pieces that anyone can implement.

Let us take a closer look at each element of the 4R framework and how it was applied in the Follow the Frog campaign.


The communication piece should offer the viewer information that they did not know. In other words, it made the audience aware of the social or environmental problem on which the organization works.

Application in the campaign: The first 40 seconds of the video are used for this phase, establishing a context with which any viewer can identify to a greater or lesser extent and offering relevant information on the problem of rainforest destruction.


Once the problem is presented, the viewer should be invited to reflect on the problem, the importance of its being addressed, and the possible future positive and negative implications of different actions.

Application in the campaign: From 0:40 to 2:30, the video invites the viewer to reflect on the problem and the consequences of different actions that can be taken to solve it or make it worse.


The spectator is invited to carry out a concrete and simple action that allows him to be part of the solution to the problem. Spectators have a very short attention span; for this reason, the action requested from the audience should be simple and should not require a great effort.

Application in the campaign: From 2:30 to 2:55, the video tells us what action must be taken to support and be part of the solution. As we see, the action is extremely simple and does not require much effort on the part of the viewer.


Finally, elements must be generated that foster the link between the viewer and the cause in the long term. These elements should make the viewer feel emotionally attached to the cause and allow him to empower himself. These elements can be visual as logos or badges, interactive as websites, online communities, or hashtags, among others.

Application in the campaign: From 2:55 to 3:00, the video shows us the link element the logo of the Rainforest Alliance certificate. By using the logo, the organization’s branding is reinforced, and the viewer will feel identified and even proud every time they consume a product that features the logo.

On some occasions the elements of Realize and Reflect overlap and are difficult to identify but are present. As in the video A Boy Named Gavin, much of the video is dedicated to these two elements, it is until 1:40 where the Render element appears, in the form of the phrase: “Please consider my rights when you make your decision”. Finally at 1:50 we see the Related element in the form of the #TransIsBeautiful hashtag.

Most communication pieces from organizations that address social or environmental problems stay in the first 2 Rs (Realize, Reflect),This does not mean that they are bad pieces, for example, Water Walk by Water Aid is a beautiful piece with great storytelling, but that by not incorporating the elements of Render and Relate, it misuses the attention it generates in viewers and does not give a clear way in which the viewer can link with the cause and support.

Without the Render and Related elements, campaigns are merely informative, and large amounts of money and effort are wasted on ineffective campaigns. These elements make the pieces and campaign more effective because they help establish the campaign’s measurement and monitoring strategy. By requesting specific actions from the audience, it is easier to establish parameters and tools that measure whether the audience is actually performing that action. For example, hashtags are a great way to measure and track the effects of a video since it is very easy to measure the number of times it is being used across different social networks.

Where to start?

The best way to start using the 4R framework is by analyzing how other pieces of communication use it. At you can find success stories of videos that have generated a significant impact to promote social causes, this is an excellent place to find inspiration and carry out an analysis of the 4Rs before starting to generate your own campaigns. is another good source of inspiration where we can find videos on various topics on climate change, animal rights, among others. The exciting thing about this page is that young people make the videos since the objective of this organization is that they develop confidence and practice social advocacy.

Mastering Negotiation Standards: Attracting Impact Investors

All entrepreneurs, at some point, ask the question: How can I attract investment to grow my business? Answering this question is not easy since attracting investment for a venture is a complex process that takes a lot of work and time.

In the case of social entrepreneurs, the process of attracting investment is twice as complex. On the one hand, traditional investors fail to understand the impact component that the organization works and, on the other, impact investors who do understand and seek to carry out Investments that generate a social or environmental impact use a language that social entrepreneurs do not dominate.

How can social entrepreneurs attract impact investors?

The answer is to dominate the negotiation standards since these will allow the social entrepreneur to:

  • Establish a common language with impact investors.
  • Show how well the organization executes its social or environmental mission.

There is a wide variety of negotiation standards; here are some of the most used in impact investment markets:

Environmental, social and governance (ESG)

ESG is not so much a standard but rather a selection criterion that some investors use to determine in which companies to invest. This criterion analyzes three dimensions of the company: the environmental, which valued how well the organization performs in its relationship with nature. The social, which examines how the organization relates and operates with its employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. And finally, the governance, which analyzes how is the organization leadership, accountability, audit processes, among others.

SDG Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable development goals are becoming increasingly relevant for impact investors as a form to select investment projects. Social entrepreneurs must determine whether their impact mission helps to achieve any of the sustainable development goals and establish mechanisms that allow them to measure the extent to which they are contributing to achieving that SDG. For more information on how to report with the SDGs visit:

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

SASB is a nonprofit organization that has set 77 industry-specific standards for environmental, social, and governance issues that allow social enterprises to measure and report their impact. For more information on how to report with SASBs visit:

Global Reporting Initiative GRI

GRI standards are most used worldwide to report the sustainability practices of organizations and governments. They have a very robust platform and a methodology that guides entrepreneurs from the measurement phase to the communication phase. For more information on how to report with the GRI visit:

International Integrated Reporting IIRC

In the words of its Chairman Professor Mervyn King, “The IIRC Framework is a tool for the better articulation of strategy, and to engage investors on a long-term journey to attract investment that will be crucial to achieving sustained, and sustainable, prosperity.” IIRC methodology measures how the organization creates value and places great emphasis on thinking about the organization in the future, that is, where it wants to go. For more information on how to report with the IIRC visit:

The Planetary Boundaries Framework

The PB framework presents a set of nine planetary boundaries such as freshwater use, ocean acidification, climate change, biodiversity integrity, among others. Within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. In recent years, this framework has begun to gain relevance among companies and investors; for example, in 2016, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development implemented it to define its 2020 strategy. For more information on how to report with the IIRC visit: https: //

Implementing any of these standards can represent a significant investment of time and money for social entrepreneurs. For this reason, social entrepreneurs should follow these recommendations to master the negotiation standards:   

Choose the right standard

Some standards are better for large organizations, others are better for organizations working on an environmental mission, and others are better for showing where the organizations want to be in the future.

Social entrepreneurs must analyze each standard and select the one that allows them to show how well they are fulfilling their mission.  Also, they should keep in mind the cost of implementation and choose something they can afford; This could be a bit tricky since the social entrepreneur must find a balance between the standard that best suit his needs and the money he can spend.

Wrap it all in a Pitch

Once the organization has implemented the standard, the reports and data it will produce must wrap it in a pitch. This pitch must demonstrate how well the organization is performing to achieve its mission and what are the projections of future results. With this pitch, social entrepreneurs will be able to approach potential investors, and they will have enough weapons to demonstrate the potential of their organization and be able to start a conversation with a common language. Also, the data and reports generated will be handy if a stage of due diligence is reached.

It is important to remember that standards are a means to an end, and social entrepreneurs should not become slaves to measure and report everything that happens in their organization.

A company that has used standards very well to attract new stakeholders and allies is Pisos Mamut, a Bolivian social enterprise that recycles rubber from tires to create cushioning floors. Manuel Laredo, CEO of the company, says that they selected some aspects of different standards that would allow them to measure what they were interested in and that they could afford it. These data have allowed them to set a pitch that not only represents how well the company performs its mission, but also allowed them to create a value proposition based on the concept of sustainable cities. They now can demonstrate the environmental and social impact that the product has in the communities where it is used. With this pitch, they have won several international competitions, participated in investment rounds, and are now preparing for the internationalization of the company in several markets in South America.

What We Can Learn about Creativity from Non-Profit Organizations

Every day there are more companies that at the time of hire give priority to the soft skills, according to data from a global study conducted by Adobe creativity is the soft skill most demanded by companies in 2019. Companies turn to creative professionals to stay competitive and at the forefront of their sector. According to data from the same Adobe study, companies that have invested in creativity have seen an increase in their productivity by 78% and have achieved an increase in customer satisfaction by 80%.

Faced with this great demand for creativity that the world is experiencing, companies have turned their eyes to industries such as art, advertising, and entertainment where creativity is an everyday thing in search of talent and good practices. But there is a sector that no one pays much attention to and in which creativity has been present for decades and has meant the differentiating factor between success or failure. We refer to the NGO sector.

NGOs work with a different mentality than traditional companies since their focus is on the execution of projects that generate impact and live in a constant battle to secure funds that allow them to continue executing more impact projects. Because of this, NGOs have to be very creative when using the economic and human resources available to them. This has caused a powerful creative ability to develop over the years in NGOs.

The question that arises is: what we can learn from NGOs in terms of creativity?

Understand the problems from within

The NGOs from their conception focus on solving social or environmental problems that afflict a certain sector or population. In order to generate effective and efficient solutions, NGOs do a lot of work in the field to understand these problems. Large companies can apply a similar approach to that of NGOs when generating new products and services, making their employees work in the field, knowing and generating direct relationships with customers so that they can have a deeper and first-hand understanding of the problems and context of its customers.

Think of the customer first

NGOs always put their beneficiaries as their first priority and are constantly looking for new ways to help them. This approach makes the creative process of NGOs much more empathic and allows them to generate more and better ideas since the goal of the process is to really generate something that brings value to the beneficiary. Traditional companies start their creative processes with the bias of generating products and services that are profitable for the company without considering the real problems and needs of customers.

Creativity is a skill that all human beings possess, if companies really want to take full advantage of this ability, they should not only look for creative professionals but also should encourage and create an environment for that creativity to emerge in all employees and expand within the entire organization.

Leading a Social Enterprise: Focused on Impact or Focused on Business?

Managing a social enterprise is not an easy task since unlike a traditional company, the social or environmental impact component that the social enterprise tries to address adds an extra layer of complexity to the management. It is for this reason that social entrepreneurs often feel confused and do not know how to lead their organizations.

One of the main challenges facing social entrepreneurs is to determine the best leadership approach for their organization, whether one focused on impact or one focused on business. Usually, these types of leadership do not go hand in hand and usually create tensions within the organization since those members who work with a business-focused style tend to minimize the importance of the impact and prioritize income generation, while Impact-focused members give priority to impact over income generation.

Which is the right leadership approach?

The truth is that the 2 approaches are necessary for a social enterprise to scale its impact and be successful since each one has advantages for the organization:

Focus on business

The focus on business makes the organization more attractive to investors, generates more economic resources and has the potential to scale much faster.

Focus on impact

The impact approach, on the other hand, gives the organization a better understanding of the problem they are trying to solve and allows them to generate new ideas to maximize and scale the impact of the organization.

The key is then to strike a balance between the 2 approaches so that the social enterprise takes full advantage of both.

To achieve the balance between the 2 leadership styles, social enterprises must:

Be guided by a clear mission

A clear and concise mission statement will allow the social entrepreneur to better guide their teams regardless of the approach they work with. In a paper Onyx and Maclean mention how several studies on the motivation of individuals working in nonprofit organizations have shown that volunteers, paid collaborators, managers and presidents perceive themselves as means to achieve a greater collective goal. This means that when all members of the organization understand the mission of the organization and how their work contributes to it, it is easier to deal with the tensions that may arise between the 2 approaches since all the team members will be aligned by the common factor of achieving the mission of the organization.

Establish impact and business indicators

Another key element to achieving the balance between the 2 approaches is to establish impact and business indicators that not only allow to measure performance but also help to communicate the accomplishment within the organization and demonstrate the contribution of each approach to the achievement of the major goal.

A good example of a social enterprise that has achieved a balance between the 2 leadership styles is SolarInti, an Argentine organization that provides energy and economic autonomy to rural and low-income families through ovens and high-performance solar devices. To scale the impact of the organization, its founder Pierre-Yves Herrouet understood that it was necessary to leverage the mission with a focus on business, so he incorporated a team of professionals with commercial experience who joined the organization. Today, the organization has a mixed team of collaborators, some focused on impact and others focused on business, but all the members of the organization, regardless of their approach, are committed to the mission and understand the scope of their work through the complete set of indicators with which SolarInti measures the performance of its projects which include environmental, health, product, participation, and service indicators, among others.

Finding the perfect balance between the 2 approaches is not something that happens overnight, social enterprises must allow themselves to experiment with different iterations of leadership approaches, starting with small projects that allow them to analyze how the internal teams of the organization react and can determine the challenges and opportunities of the approach.

How Social Entrepreneurs Can Take Advantage of Social Enterprise Ecosystems

For a company to be successful, it must integrate and interact with a wide variety of actors, including other companies, international organizations, governments, banks, investors, and others. The term ecosystem is often used to refer to these relationships and interactions. As Jager, Symmes, and Cardoza state in their book Scaling Strategies for Social Entrepreneurs, the term ecosystems is widely used by scholars to describe the complex relationships and diversity of actors with whom a social entrepreneur must relate in order to achieve his goals.

Navigating in an ecosystem is a complex task, especially if the entrepreneur doesn’t have a strategy for establishing a relationship with each actor. In addition, entrepreneurs have to keep in mind that ecosystems are not the idyllic place they often think, where all the actors will be open and willing to lend a hand to the entrepreneur. In fact, in most countries, ecosystems do not work well, and there is little articulation between some key actors.

How should social entrepreneurs then navigate and take advantage of social enterprise ecosystems?

Jager, Symmes, and Cardoza state that a social entrepreneur must use a market approach to explore and take advantage of opportunities that allow negotiating impact with diverse actors. Given this concept and in addition to the fact that ecosystems in many cases do not work quite well, we understand that the social entrepreneur must not only look to be part of an existing ecosystem but rather must build his own ecosystem based on his needs.

The steps that a social entrepreneur can follow to build their own ecosystem are:

1. Identify regulatory frameworks and negotiation standards

Both social entrepreneurs and the actors with whom the entrepreneur wants to establish relationships are framed by regulations, laws, and norms that determine how these relationships are negotiated. Social entrepreneurs should know these regulatory frameworks thoroughly and identify how they can use them in their favor. In addition to the laws, there are standards of each sector that allow establishing a common language between the negotiating parties. Some examples of these standards are ISO standards, SDGs, and impact indicators such as IRIS, among others. The social entrepreneur must identify which negotiation standard works best for a particular actor.

2. Identify needs and the actors that can supply them

Before venturing to build an ecosystem, social entrepreneurs must identify their needs for economic and non-economic resources. Once this diagnosis is made, entrepreneurs will be able to identify – more quickly – possible actors that can meet those needs. This saves the social entrepreneur time since his search will be more focused and efficient.

3. Establish the negotiation

Once the actors have been identified and what is wanted of them, as well as the regulatory frameworks and standards that will determine the way of relating, the social entrepreneur is ready to be able to enter into negotiations with these actors. During the negotiation phase, it is possible for the entrepreneur to discover new opportunities or resources that he had not previously considered. This is why the entrepreneur must keep an open mind, with a clear objective of what he wants to obtain, but being flexible in how he is going to obtain it.

Social entrepreneurship ecosystems are constantly changing and, for this reason, social entrepreneurs must remain alert to these changes and by always asking the question: With which actors can the organization’s impact be negotiated to continue scaling?

Stop Selling and Start Helping Your Customers

The paradigms of the sales process have changed a lot since, in the 60s, David Ogilvy proposed the Find Me – Sale Me model. In those years, the post-war recovery economy caused consumers to have money to spend, but a limited supply of products. That is to say that at that time, it was very easy to make a sale since the demand exceeded the offer. Based on this scenario, Ogilvy states that in order to be a successful seller, it was only enough to go out and knock on some doors.

The model proved to be successful and continued to be applied for years, creating generations of aggressive sellers who did not consider the needs of their customers and whose sense of success was to sell anything to anyone. It is because of this that the seller’s role becomes stigmatized by society and, in some cases, they are seen as unscrupulous and liars who are only interested in making a sale at any cost.

In the information age in which we currently live, the Ogilvy model has been forced to change to a scheme known as Know Me-Help Me, where sellers must give priority to knowing their customers and their needs in-depth in order to offer them products and services that really help them and add value. The new sales process is based on the generation and accumulation of knowledge by the seller in order to build trust with their potential customers.

Below, we present a scheme that exemplifies the new sales process.

As the scheme shows, the generation of knowledge is from the inside of the company (the products and services offered) to the outside (the customer and its environment). By applying this model, the seller has to become an expert on the products and services offered by his company and an expert on the environment and problems that afflict his customer, in order to help them to make the best purchase decision. In this case, the price variable becomes secondary and should not influence this sales process since the offer from the seller is based on real solutions to real problems.

This kind of sales process tends to take longer since the seller must do a lot of research to get to know the client in-depth, its industry, suppliers, customers, and competitors in order to find solutions and proposals relevant to the customer. Another difference is that in this type of sales process, there is no end since the variables inherent to the client’s problems can change at any time, which implies that new opportunities will arise for the seller to design and create new products and services to solve those changes.

Applying this sales scheme aimed at helping the customer turns the sales process into something enriching and enjoyable for the seller, as he becomes a relevant actor in solving the customer problems, which generates great satisfaction.

We must begin to see sales as a process in which we provide and support the customer, the days of the aggressive salesman are behind. And today, sales should be seen as a process by which we build long-term relationships with the clients.

How Social Entrepreneurs Must Communicate for Maximum Impact

How social entrepreneurs must communicate the purpose of their organization to generate greater impact.

Greg Deeds, a prominent university professor and recognized for developing the topic of social entrepreneurship as an academic field, argues in an article for the Harvard Business Review that social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to change the direction of their field. They are visionaries, but also realists, and they are ultimately concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else. This description of a social entrepreneur seems very accurate because what it reflects is that a well-defined purpose moves social entrepreneurs and this motivates them to fight against any obstacle in order to see that purpose accomplished.

Social entrepreneurs create organizations, companies, and projects around their purpose. The problem is that in many occasions, the purpose is not transmitted correctly to employees, partners, customers, and any other actor that could contribute to the achievement of that purpose, so the potential impact that the organization could be generated is limited.

Communicating the purpose correctly to all the stakeholders of the organization generates:

  • Greater commitment on the part of employees, who feel more motivated to achieve the organization’s purpose.
  • Improve the processes of income generation, such as fundraising, sales, and even makes the organization more attractive to potential investors.
  • The attraction of potential allies, such as other organizations, governments, international cooperation agencies, among other actors that can contribute to scale and enhance the impact of the organization.

How can social entrepreneurs then correctly communicate their purpose?

Unlike the traditional business world, the trend of social entrepreneurship is relatively recent, so there is not much literature that provides social entrepreneurs with tools and knowledge that are actionable mainly in the fields of marketing and communication. Faced with this gap in knowledge, I took on the task of collecting concepts and theories from different sources, such as the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University, the blog of Hollister Creative, and the experiences of social entrepreneurs of the VIVA Idea network, in order to establish a logical framework that helps social entrepreneurs to better communicate their purpose.

The result of this investigation is the following scheme:

Purpose / Driver of the organization: In this section, the organization’s reason should be detailed as simply and clearly as possible. The declaration of purpose should not occupy more than 300 characters.

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Audiences and their contribution: Here, we must describe the audiences that the organization wants to address, what the organization expects to obtain from them, and what the audiences are willing to give to support the purpose of the organization, be it time, money, or influence (recommend the organization to others, sign petitions or perform digital actions). This section will clarify the organization to determine if the statement of purpose is convincing enough to motivate the public to take the expected action.

The value offered by the product or service: Being clear about the value proposition of the organization using the theory of the 2-way value proposition will help reinforce the purpose statement, giving a broader view of its contribution and impact to the public of interest and the world.

Social ventures must place the purpose at the center of the organization and use it as a northern star to guide each of their decisions on how employees are hired, how they collaborate with other organizations and, above all, how they communicate to all stakeholders. An organization where the purpose is internalized by all its internal and external stakeholders transcends the figure of its founder, which allows it to continue generating a positive impact and scaling up its work even when the founder has to leave the organization for some reason.

Simon Sinek in his book Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team states that: If we want to feel an undying passion for our work or if we want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY. So if social entrepreneurs want to have an organization formed by a committed and passionate team, the purpose must be communicated correctly.

Check out our ultimate Storytelling Guide: How to Tell a Brand Story!

How to Use Video Marketing for Social Impact Communications

Video for Social Impact Communication: What Really Works?

The consumption of video content has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to social networks and other platforms dedicated to the distribution of this type of content. According to the Global Internet Phenomena report, it is estimated that 56% of the internet flow corresponds only to video. Business Insider data show that more than 500 million hours of video are seen on YouTube per day and approximately 4.3 million videos are viewed every minute. These data give us enough context to understand that video is the most important trend in digital media nowadays.

Some non-profit organizations think they can’t afford video production and they ruled out his asset from their communication products. But as demonstrated by the Digital Persuasion study: How social media motivates action and drives support for causes, watching an online video is one of the main drivers that has motivated people to take action to investigate more about an organization or cause. Meaning that these organizations are losing a great opportunity to communicate their mission, projects, and impact through video.

So, the question is: How can non-profit organizations effectively incorporate video into their communication strategy?

THE OIA Framework

Create good videos that deliver results. It’s not a matter of budget; instead, all depends on the type of video, the structure, the goals the organization wants to achieve and, of course, creativity. We recommend the OIA framework: Objective, Impact Story, and Action to outline the structure of the video.

Objective: It establishes what the main goal of the video will be. The three most common types of objectives are: educate clients or beneficiaries, motivate the public, or position the organization or its leaders.

Impact story: The key to any video is that it has powerful and well-executed storytelling.

Depending on the objective of the video, define the main character that is the protagonist of the impact story. The audience must be able to identify the character with their problems, aspirations, or motivations.

The type of video plays a key role in the effectiveness of the video. In order to determine what kind of videos work best for different uses, VIVA Idea – a Latin American think-action-tank based in Costa Rica in collaboration with Worcester Polytechnic Institute students – conducted a survey and a series of a focus group of 132 people from all Latin America. The sample was composed of people of different educational levels with the common denominator that all work or have worked on a social project.

The researchers tested 3 types of videos:

  1. A narrator with people performing actions in the background
  2. A person speaking without visual aids
  3. A fully-animated video

The results obtained were the following:

According to the level of experience and education of the audience, the type of video that is most attractive to them varies. For example, business professionals or experienced entrepreneurs may prefer lecture-style videos, while the general audience without expertise and lower education levels tends to prefer more easily-digestible animation videos.

Animated videos can be a good starting point for organizations that want to incorporate video in their communication strategies. Since this type of video appeals to a wider audience, producing animated videos is within reach of all budgets since the production cost of the videos ranges from $700 to $72,000 for a 60-second video.

How to start using video?

Users of digital platforms are exposed to an incredible amount of content every day, therefore non-profit companies have to fight to break through all that noise to stand out and deliver their message effectively, videos can be an excellent vehicle to achieve this.

The best way to start is to take a cell phone or a camera and start recording the work of the volunteers, testimonies of the beneficiaries or the experiences of the members of the organization. It does not matter if at the beginning these videos do not look good with time and practice you will master the technique and each time will produce better pieces of content. The important thing is to go out, record and experiment until finding the formula that works best for the organization to spread its impact message.

Further reading: