Many universities give scholarships to their students, and this is a tremendous undertaking on behalf of the administration, the marketing, and the fundraising committees. Often the fundraising efforts happen in one-on-one environments with big donors.
In this post I want to walk you through the $400 mil. capital campaign for Yeshiva University that I made videos for. I want to discuss why we created those videos and what purpose they serve. We don’t want to make just “nice” films; our utmost goal here at Hoffman Productions is to achieve incredible results for our clients.
Man, I fell from my chair when Moshe Isaacson, Director of Interactive Marketing at YU, contacted me and asked me for a proposal to help them start a film campaign. They needed to raise $400 mil. Crazy. Have you ever seen $400 mil.? Or can you even just imagine how much this is? This is the amount YU has to raise in order to get students who need the extra financial help to school.
I felt extremely honored to even be asked to do such a project, but I have to tell you, I had sleepless nights. Especially since I knew that they would consider a few production companies for the job, as this is their standard procedure. Can I do this? Isn’t this too big of a responsibility? I wasn’t even sure if it was worth it to work on an RFP (request for proposal) because I wasn’t confident enough that I could pull it off.
When I woke up the next morning my amazing wife said to me: “You can do it. Of course we will make it.” That gave me a nice push and I was up to the challenge.
I tell you, a proposal is a lot of work, and I knew I had to find an idea that would outpace the other video production companies. So, I constructed a proposal that I hoped would blow their minds.
Margelit and I sat together and worked for 5 days straight to come up with a really cool video campaign, that not only would work to help raise the money but that would have a personal feel, a personal touch to it. Videos that would make people who donate proud to be a part of it.
The Second Call
So, we sent the proposal in, and after a few weeks I got an email from Moshe who invited me to an interview.
Oh man, I didn’t believe it. Really?
I tried to prepare really well, gathering some samples of my video work on my laptop so that I could show it off.
At the interview I met Kimberly Melton, an unbelievably kind and patient woman. I had prepared 5 questions that I would ask them. And I listened. In such high-pressure situations, we want to show off, talk, and impress a lot. But I had a feeling that listening is better. I made notes. Then when we finished my fifth question we were pretty much done. No showing off my films I brought on my laptop?
Kimberly went on to her next meeting and I thought it was all over.
The Third Call
A few weeks later I get a call from Moshe telling me that I made it. Yeahhh. I was so amazed. I couldn’t believe it.
I thanked Hashem and I was ready to get to work.
Kimberly, Moshe and I really had talks over 2 months to work out the concept. What did potential donors want to see and experience that will open their hearts (and wallets)?
We came up with the first set of films. Two of them featured two of their top students who have interesting backgrounds, are articulate, and share with us what it is like to be a student at Yeshiva University and what vision drives them in their lives. We wanted to make it as personal as it could be, given the framework. Thank Gd we found two amazing protagonists, Deena Gilboa form Tenafly, NJ, and Alex Wascher from Vienna, Austria.
The third film of our campaign would be a 1-minute piece with Ira Mitzner, Chairman of the Capital Campaign.
He is a household name within the community who has helped facilitate many campaigns to raise money. He is an amazing person that I got to know when we were filming. I felt an immediate bond with him, and he was very easy to work with.
Now here is the psychology of why we chose those concepts:
1. We wanted to show donors and potential donors where their money is going. What kind of “investment” they would be signing up for. Therefore we decided to make two features about two bright, successful students to whom everyone can relate.
2. We wanted to give the campaign a strong personality, and featuring Ira as the campaign’s leader was really important in creating a good connection with the audience because he is very well-known in the YU community.
3. We decided that we wanted the videos stylistically to stand out. Have you seen other universities’ films? We did. We put lots of work into these videos to make them look and feel outstanding and special. Because “investing” in these students and being part of this capital campaign is important.
We shot for a bunch of days following Deena and Alex in their student lives. I owe them a tremendous “thank you” for being so patient and willing to make this a really great and successful campaign.
Big thanks to Moshe Isaacson who planned the production so enormously well on Yeshiva University’s side. Everything was flawless and professional. He and Kimberly made me really feel like a part of their team. It was an incredible experience.