A ‘self-production approach for charities’: Supporting And Developing In-House Video Production In Small UK Charities

Foster, Charlotte Rachel (2021). A ‘self-production approach for charities’: Supporting And Developing In-House Video Production In Small UK Charities. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000130d5


This study entails the development and exploration of an approach to in-house video production for small UK charities. Contextual literature indicates that it is becoming increasingly important for charities to digitally communicate their core work and demonstrate impact, and video offers significant benefits in terms of engaging a variety of audiences and telling powerful and persuasive stories of lives transformed. Charities that develop the capacity to produce their own video could therefore harness the power of video to their advantage.

The study is methodologically divided into three stages. Firstly, the study explores the current landscape of video production in small charities by examining the content and quality of videos posted on YouTube. It also explores barriers to video production through interviews with charity managers. Findings from these explorations indicate that video is little used by small charities, it is perceived within the sector as difficult, expensive and time-consuming to produce, and when it is produced often fails to reach a satisfactory standard.

Secondly the study develops ‘A Self-Production Approach for Charities’, or ‘ASPAC’, that consists of a series of eight simple rules, materials or procedures, each summarised in one or two sentences. ASPAC can be used by charities wanting to self-produce video content; to guide their production process with the aim of minimising resource use and maximising the utility of their video output. The development of ASPAC responds to the core challenges identified in the first stage of this study, from the literature review, and through the tacit knowledge of the researcher. It takes as a key premise that video production can be approached as a design process that involves flexibility, collaboration, iteration and creative exploration.

Finally, ASPAC is explored through a number of video production case studies facilitated by the researcher, thereby indicating strengths and weaknesses. ASPAC is shown to be effective in empowering most organisations to produce their own useful content, but cannot be implemented effectively under certain conditions, for example, when there is little support from higher management. It is also shown that a video champion: a staff member, service user or volunteer, adds to the likelihood of success. In conclusion, any future iteration of the approach needs to focus on improving ease of use whilst maintaining ASPAC’s effectiveness.

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