email marketing, engagement, fundraising, video sharing

Adding Cheer to the Holidays with Video eCards

2 Comments 24 December 2009

Image by Kiera Duggan

In a former office workplace, we used to look forward to the holiday cards folks would send us. The administrative assistant would hang each holiday card in the front entrance, and we’d look at the new cards daily. In the age of social media, I’m pleased to see that holiday cards are beginning to morph into virtual cards and engagement strategies. Goodbye standard pre-printed card with scenic snowscape on the front. Hello creativity and innovation! You’ve got my attention when you send me a video card. (Now, how do you hang those up?)

There are two types of holiday video cards: the humorous video (that often parodies something known) and the end of year annual appeal. Each has its advantages.

Humorous Holiday Video Cards

In a humorous holiday video, I want to see another side of the company’s personality and the staff in the video. I love feeling like I know the company a bit better, which makes me feel as if I have a stronger relationship with them. Humorous videos can be forgiven for a lot: they don’t have to be professionally produced or scripted well. However, they have to have heart, soul…and humor.

The best video card that I received this holiday season was from See3. I loved it because it is incredibly innovative and it’s humorous. At the outset of the video, the view is asked to enter his/her name and mobile phone number (See3 promises not to keep this information). During the video, Santa’s elf calls to find out if you have been naughty or nice this year. Get this: your phone actually rings and a recording asks you to answer the question. Depending on your answer, the ending changes. (Hint: being naughty is more fun.) See3 left me wanting to know more about using this technology integration.

Runner up was a hilarious holiday card video animation from Eckerd College. The college created a custom animation mocking the university President’s lack of social media skills. I’m not familiar with this university (the link was passed to me by @Ashli_Cooper), but I can only assume that the President is quite tech savvy. According to the material on its website, Eckerd College was named #7 of the Top 20 Wired Colleges of 2008 from PC Magazine. It’s also worth checking out their website page of previous Eckerd College holiday cards.

I also really enjoyed a holiday e-card sent to me by Donor Tools and created by jibjab. Unfortunately, the video was embedded in an email so that I could not link to it. However, check out some of the jibjab video e-card options here. They all ask you to put faces to animated videos, and the videos are quite funny.

Image by PAUL

Serious End-of-Year Video Cards

If your organization wants to produce a serious, “we have accomplished so many things video,” it must be produced beautifully, visually stunning, and tell a compelling story. If it isn’t, I’ll click away instantly.

I was moved by the New Israel Fund’s end of year video. “If Israel Were A Village of 100 People, What Would It Look Like?” is as powerful a video as I’ve ever seen, and it is just words and images. It is is the story of the demographics of Israeli residents, but also compels you to think about inequality.

Honorable mentions:

The Rhode Island School of Design‘s annual giving campaign video. Though not a holiday video card per se, it’s humorous and sentimental, gentle and compelling. It is a mix of claymation and a live actor.  In the video, a RISD grad recieves an annual appeal letter and remembers an old college friend.  As reviewed by @Elisa_Hebert, it was “really cute and made me want to give.” Who doesn’t love a cute, sentimental, animated monster?

Hubspot‘s holiday video card “We Wish You a High Conversion” features the Hubspot staff singing by the fire. It shows off some of the company personality, with creativity.

The Toronto Community Foundation‘s holiday video has a lot of heart. It features a gift being passed from employee to employee, filmed in several locations around Toronto. Though not humorous, it has heart and soul, and connects you with the staff.

Lastly, I also want to reference an audio holiday recording that is not a video card. I’m including it because it is genuine, warm, and inventive. It is a window into how much Karen Zapp cares about her clients. She was kind enough to allow me to link to her audio recording of A Carol for Associations (to the tune of Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!) and A Carol for Charitable Nonprofits (to the tune of Angels We Have Heard On High!)

Happy Holidays to all of my wonderful, giving readers. I wish you a very happy new year, and look forward to many more conversations in 2010!



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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