My husband and I were fortunate to be a part of an outstanding awards dinner event recently for The Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee. Many scholarships were handed out to truly deserving young men and women who have overcame great obstacles. My favorite portion of the evening was a video of kids answering questions like: “Why should people help other people?,” “What advice has been given to you?,” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What I heard in response was inspirational.

One boy said you should help because it’s the right thing to do. Another said if you help someone, they will turn around and help someone else and it will keep going (a.k.a., “Pay It Forward”). I couldn’t agree more. There are so many genuine, essential organizations to choose from – food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans organizations, youth support groups, etc. They need volunteers and donations to stay viable.

Seeing and hearing the words directly from the mouths of these young people reminded me that for non-profits, video can be one of the most powerful fundraising tools. Yet it is often among the most cost prohibitive and difficult to produce. Speaking from experience, it really takes a lot of proactive planning to create an influential video presentation that earns a return on investment. For example, for Rosalie Manor, Responsory (formerly Johnson Direct) produced this rather startling and thought-provoking video which debuted during its Centennial celebration. This level of quality and creativity was necessary to get attendees to take note and write checks.

For the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Responsory created this PSA-inspired video that highlights real women veterans and calls attention to a truly unique membership community.

This week, I listened to the Miracle Marathon, an annual fundraiser and radio broadcast for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Each year my family and I listen to it. I believe what makes it so successful is that all day long, we hear stories directly from the patients and families that benefit from the hospital’s good work. Doctors and staff tell their stories, too. Anyone who listens is bound to be moved to tears by all the heart-wrenching stories. They make it hard not to donate.

So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I’d love to know if I’ve inspired you to give back in some way —whether it is by volunteering or writing a check — to an organization that you feel passionate about. In fact, leave a comment to this post about the non-profit organization that is closest to your heart. I’d love to hear about it.