Getting Groovy with GIFs for Your NPO

If your nonprofit organization has examined the world of meme marketing, then you’ve probably encountered the meme’s crazy cousin: the animated GIF. GIFs have dominated the world of online memes for some time, and marketers—and nonprofits—have started picking up on it.

A GIF (pronounced either hard G or soft G) shows a series of still image frames which have been coded into a single file. The argument over GIF (hard G) or JIF (soft G) has gone on for awhile, but for our purposes we’re going to do things the right way, and say GIF with a hard G.

So how can your nonprofit organization use this medium to promote your cause? Today we’re going to take a look at how your NGO can get groovy with GIFs.

Where did the GIF come from?

The animated GIF has actually been around for some time. It was first introduced by Steve Wilhite of CompuServe in 1987 as a way to present a moving image. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. During the 2000s, the animated GIF lost some popularity, but then made a comeback as people realized how they could feature them in unique and interesting ways. Twenty-nine years later, the GIF remains relevant and growing.

Why should my NGO consider using GIFs?

There’s lots of ways your NGO can implement GIFs, from personal blogs, to social networking platforms, to even (some) presentations and productions. If you’re not sure if your nonprofit organization should implement a GIFs marketing strategy, check out some of these benefits animated GIFs can offer:

  • They’re easy to consume. In today’s technological age, it’s tough to capture constituents’ attention and retain interest. According to Twitter, in 2015 people shared more than 100 million GIFs through tweets and direct messages, proving GIFs extremely easy for viewers to consume. Video tells a powerful story which a still image cannot, but can sometimes be too long to keep viewers’ attention; still images keep attention but can’t tell the same type of story. The GIF, on the other hand, offers a hybrid between a still image and video. Volunteers and donors can engage with the format quickly (like a picture), but still extract a lesson from the highlighted movement (like a video).
  • They serve as a call to action. Because of the integrated movement of a GIF, they can easily serve as a call to action for your organization, guiding the viewer’s eye along a specific path without being obtrusive. 
  • They’re effective. According to Visually, without visuals, people only remember 20% of what they read. Even moreso, according to Reuters, 84% of online communication expects to be visual by 2018. Visuals are vital to your marketing cause, now more than ever. GIFs help enhance your charity’s brand with visual content which proves engaging, interactive and interesting, for less than the cost of video production with greater ROI than images. They offer the perfect amount of encouragement for a viewer to listen to your message and support your cause.
  • They drive emotion. As Giphy’s CEO, Alex Chung, said, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and the average GIF contains sixty frames, then they’re capable of conveying 60,000 words in seconds—the same as the average novel. While images show nouns, GIFs add the verb to the sentence, making them the perfect medium for nonprofit storytelling. This storytelling mode offers a huge potential for your NGO to connect with viewers emotionally. Through a few simple frames, you can bring constituents inspiration, laughter and even harmony.
  • They speak the Internet’s language. Finally, GIFs demonstrate a way to bring your nonprofit marketing efforts into the 21st century, because they speak the Internet’s language. The short, looping, silent moving images have pervaded the Internet to become a universally understood visual language of their own. They’ve become part of Internet culture, mobile-friendly and have huge integration on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Even Instagram has their own version of GIFs called Boomerang. If your NGO wants to market online, GIFs will get you started.




How can I get started?

Fortunately, GIFs are pretty easy to make on your own. All you need is a series of still images (frames) which can be compiled together. These can be photographs your NGO takes, clipart or files created in Photoshop. Make sure you know what set of images you will be using and how, together, they will convey your message. Once you’re ready to go, there are a couple of online tools that can compile it all for you: MakeAGif, Giphy, Imgflip and EZ Gif to name a few. Before you know it, you’ll have something like this:

If your nonprofit wants to boost your marketing efforts and demonstrate your cause, GIFs are a great step to take. Whether you say GIF or JIF, these eye-catching, quick-moving images will show your brand’s fun side, and boost your volunteer hours and donation dollars.

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