Interview with Harry McAlister, Client Services Director at Ample Earth

This week Charity Digital News met with the Client Services Director at Ample Earth, Harry McAlister. Ample Earth creates innovative animated videos for charities and social enterprises to change the world for the better.

| 16th May 13
Ample Earth - creating animated videos for charities
Ample Earth - creating animated videos for charities
Ample Earth – creating animated videos for charities

This week Charity Digital News met with the Client Services Director at Ample Earth, Harry McAlister. Ample Earth creates innovative animated videos for charities and social enterprises to change the world for the better.

Could you provide some background information about Ample Earth and how it all began?

It’s been going for just over sixth months. Before, my business partner Matt and I were making videos for corporate organisations, such as cleaning companies and recruitment firms. There was a lack of motivation, as no one truly believed in the product.

What made you choose to work specifically with charities?

We made video for Restless Beings, a homeless charity in Bangladesh. All of a sudden we saw first-hand how much good a video could really do. The team became enthusiastic, motivated, passionate, and really started to believe in the final product. The outcome was immeasurably better.

That’s when we decided to only work with charities, social enterprises and ethical businesses. However, we won’t just work with any charity. We have got to connect with the central philosophy of the organisation to choose to work with them and so carry out thorough background checks.

Your website describes Ample Earth as the ‘first creative of its kind’. What sets you apart from others?

The obvious USP is that we work with organisations that we believe in, which helps massively with motivation and the end product. Another USP is that our videos are interactive. At the end of the videos there are four buttons to choose from: join our campaign, donate, share, or do nothing. Our other USP is that we can include live updates inside the video. This might include a progress thermometer of how close you are to completing a project; live photograph updates of a school you’re building; or the names and amount donated by your latest supporters. This means your video doesn’t go out of date, and your ROI ends up being pretty, darned, fancy!

Do the buttons feature on all of the videos?

It depends on what the charity’s overall aims are. Some are looking to raise awareness, some are looking to increase donations, and some want volunteers.

Why do you think the use of video is so effective?

People remember five times more information from a video than they do text and images. You can see how the results of that will help with fundraising and raising awareness. The most powerful statistic is that a video is twelve times more likely to be shared online that text and image based websites. This can help massively with raising awareness and fundraising. Our own video demonstrating the service we provide increased time spent on our site from 2 to 7 minutes.

Why did you choose animation in particular?

Charities we have worked with in the past would spend 30-40,000 pounds making long film footage videos. These were three hour feature films which, to them, were massively entertaining, but to the rest of the world were dull. The videos would end up on YouTube with a few views and hardly any likes.

There were two things which made us realise how animated videos could be beneficial to charities. The first was ‘The Story of Stuff’ which was whiteboard animation in the same style as our Alice in publisher land animation. The second was Kony 2012 from Invisible Children, which reached over 80 million views in just two weeks.

We questioned why charities were spending so much money on making films when a short powerful, beautiful and persuasive animation has the potential to transform an organisation.

Having a great animated video is like having your best fundraiser or marketer working for you 365 days a year, all over the world, for years to come. It has the potential to transform your organisation and could be a total game changer.

Your videos are very factual and to the point. They outline the situation and demonstrate what people can do to get involved. What made you decide on this style, which is very different from most charity videos out there?

We’ve studied donor psychology and scientific advertising techniques so it’s not just a question of making a video; we understand the mind-set and how best to connect with viewers. One of the most important elements is to develop a sense of optimism and cultivate a sense of conviction.

Could you explain the process involved after a charity gets it touch?

We contact them, have a conversation, and work out whether we can help each other. Then we do a consultation, to work out exactly who they are targeting. We figure out the demographic, right down to age, name and occupation. We go on to discuss style and vibe, to match the video to that of the charity.

How long is the entire process?

We can turn around really quickly; usually a month or two months.

How much of an input do charities have in the process?

Charities understand their donors better than anyone so we want to harness this knowledge and information as best as possible. But we also understand charities are strapped for time so we take on a lot of the hard work whilst valuing their input.

When the videos are finished, how do you help to make them go viral?

We use a number of techniques. Once the video is made, it’s about the distribution. For example, we are in the process of making a video ‘A World with no Bees’ documenting the catastrophic effect neonicotinoid pesticides are having on our bees, bugs and birds. To promote it, we have been targeting forums. We find the ‘waterhole’ – where the potential donors are hanging out online and then engage them in conversation about the issues. We then gradually direct them to the video, website, or donor page. We also do Google advertising and know lots of tricks to maximise Google grants advertising.  The third aspect is targeting celebrities and asking them to watch the video and share the content.

Follow Ample Earth on Twitter to hear about their upcoming projects, including a competition for charities to win a free animated video.