St. Theresa Catholic School participates in the Catholic Education Arizona (CEA) fund, through which Arizona residents can make donations for students in need and receive in-kind tax credits. In late 2018, the organization was struggling to get adequate donations. They contacted KB Woods PR in early January, 2019, and asked if they could help create an explainer video for its Ask Campaign at St. Theresa Catholic Church Masses in early March. But, the KB Woods team started researching and determined that a video telling a cohesive story would be a superior way to connect with potential supporters of their school. Their research confirmed that storytelling is a very effective tactic in charitable fundraising (https://getfullyfunded.com/nonprofit-storytelling/). According to expert Sandy Rees, “Storytelling is a way to convey facts, information, history and experience from one person, the teller, to another, the listener.”
It connects with emotions, shows donors that their actions are making a difference and gives dignity and context to the beneficiaries. This became the foundation of KB Woods’ work with St. Theresa.
The team also conducted research into the CEA fund and Arizona tax credits. They learned the following from the CEA website: “Since 1998, Catholic Education Arizona has awarded more tuition scholarships than any other School Tuition Organization in the state of Arizona. We’ve granted over 122,000 scholarships totaling in excess of $230 million dollars to students in need of tuition assistance to attend one of 37 schools in the Diocese of Phoenix. The funding our schools receive is from Arizona’s Private Education Tax Credit legislation that was passed in 1997. This law allows individuals the option to direct their tax liability to tuition scholarships, and in 2006, the Low Income Corporate Tax Credit legislation was passed offering the tax credit to Arizona corporations as well. Arizona was the first state in the nation to adopt this legislation and to date, 18 states have followed their lead by passing some form of tax credit legislation.”
During initial planning meetings, the school administration mentioned its original vision of creating a five-minute “how to contribute” video they could play at Sunday masses. KB Woods advised that a better, more productive approach to a video would be to explain “why it’s important” to fund the CEA, and to see the impact it’s had on a student, and what he or she has come to be as a result. The school agreed, and added they wanted the video to reflect the spirit of the Catholic faith, and carry that symbolism throughout.
KB Woods identified the story of a young alumnus, Max, who was presently a college student. His family had gone through hard times in the last great recession, and the CEA fund had helped Max’s family pay his way through school. Fast-forward to 2019 and Max was experiencing a tremendous positive impact on his life to date. KB Woods also located faculty members who had taught Max during his time at St. Theresa, who could speak to the needs the school had currently. They could additionally share how donations help students like Max achieve greatness at St. Theresa Catholic School. So the team planned to interview Max and the faculty, too.
They began planning the roadmap for a short, documentary style video that connected a human face and story (Max’s) to the scholarship program. The story would cover a look back on Max’s life, and show how his time at the school made him better throughout the subsequent years. It would end with a request for donations to keep more students like him, through giving to the CEA fund.
KB Woods coordinated with St. Theresa’s leadership to prepare for the pledge program event in January. The primary audience for the effort was everyone who attended the masses in which the video would be shown, and the main goal of the video was to increase donations through the CEA fund. KB Woods PR donated its time for this project and planned a two day video shoot, with a photographer and producer on hand.
Following is the shot list KB Woods followed, in order to get key interview responses to use in the video:
- Interview with faculty member who had taught Max
- The importance of a Catholic school education
- About Max as a student when he attended the school
- Comparable students now
- The importance of supporting great students
- Why it’s important to give
- Interview with Max, the prior student who was now in college
- Max as a St. Theresa Catholic School Student
- What the school meant to Max, looking back
- What kind of person is Max now
- Call to give
Max also provided KB Woods with a video of himself when he was 13 years old with other students, at his Eagle Scout project. This video provided our editor with an introduction to the video. KB Woods received media clearances from faculty and students’ families for all photography captured. The team also gathered facts from the CEA fund on how to contribute, to use in the video, from the website https://catholiceducationarizona.org/.
The video closed with a call to action, followed by Max saying: “The elevator goes both ways when we count our blessings. It’s important to give to St. Theresa’s CEA Fund, to help the next generation up.”
The “Elevator Goes Both Ways” video was presented to thousands of Catholic parishioners at all masses, in lieu of the homily, on the weekend of March 2nd, 2019. It was a major victory for the students of St. Theresa. By using this tool during its pledge program event and masses, St. Theresa Catholic School raised more than $100,000 in contributions from the parishioners in one single day (from a total of four masses). This was a record giving day!