The Case for Video in Grant Applications

Lever for Change CEO Cecilia Conrad and VP of Knowledge Management Jeff Ubois make the case that using video helps organizations tell their story in memorable, informative, and persuasive ways.

More than 50 years ago, media scholar Marshall McLuhan noted that “it is clear that the power of film to store information in accessible form is unrivaled.” He also remarked on a root cause of resistance to new media: “Electric technology seems to favor the inclusive and participational spoken word over the specialist written word. Our Western values, built on the written word have already been considerably affected by the electric media of telephone, radio, and TV. Perhaps that is the reason why many highly literate people in our time find it difficult to examine this question without getting into a moral panic.”

We have sometimes been asked, with a hint of moral panic, why we require a 90-second video as part of every 100&Change application.

Typically, the question seems motivated by one of three reasonable concerns: avoiding undue burdens on applicants; not giving unfair advantage to organizations that can support professional quality productions; and not triggering racial, gender, and other biases among judges.

We have some evidence that these concerns may be exaggerated. Based on our experience over the last three years, we believe that Common Pool, our partner in competition management, was correct to insist that video would be a powerful addition to the process.

Some stories are best told with text, others with data or pictures, and still others with the human voice. Lever for Change competitions, including 100&Change which Lever for Change is managing, give applicants multiple ways to tell their stories, and it is our intent to provide applicants with a range of ways to make their case. Simply put, video helps organizations tell their story in a crisp, compelling way. It is practice for crafting an elevator pitch about complex proposals and, done well, makes for something that is memorable and easy to share.

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Jill Geiger