We recently had the good fortune of working with the talented team at Independent Sector on an explainer video for the Giving100 project. The project is promoting a tax policy change that would allow all Americans to deduct their charitable giving. We always love doing what we can to help worthy charities, so when we heard about this initiative, we were excited to help. With your support of the initiative, we hope to see more money going into the charitable sector where more good can be done to help the world. Here's the video we produced for Giving100.
After the explainer video was completed, we had the opportunity to ask Independent Sector's Robert Jones, Vice President of Engagement & Communications, some questions about the Giving100 initiative and what advice he would give to others considering an explainer video. This is our exchange:
Q. How did you get involved with this charitable giving initiative? What drew you to this cause over others that you could work on?
RJ: Independent Sector has spent almost four decades trying to ensure the greatest possible impact for the charitable community. Of course charities can’t have any impact if people stop giving, so protecting the charitable deduction has always been paramount for us in terms of advocacy.
This year the issue is more important than ever, because current tax reform proposals would drastically reduce the number of itemizers – and only itemizers can take the deduction. The solution is simply to remove the itemizer requirement and let everyone deduct their charitable gifts. Studies show it would unlock billions of dollars in new giving and reward middle-class taxpayers for something they do anyway. That seems like a win-win. Q. It's no small feat to try to change U.S. tax policy, how do you stay motivated every day? What is the biggest challenge and what excites you most about your job?
RJ: Well fortunately I don’t spend all my time on tax policy. That would get old real fast for someone who likes words much more than numbers. What really excites me is the chance to tell stories about the charitable sector, which is where millions of Americans make an impact and create meaning in their lives.
I love that we have this long tradition in America of taking matters into our hands, helping our neighbors, and contributing to our communities. It’s very much a part of the fabric of this country, and we very often take it for granted. So my job is to say, “Hey, pay attention to this area between the public sector and the private sector — this purpose sector where every one of us can make a difference.” That’s a very cool job, and it’s not hard to stay motivated.
Q. What made you decide to produce an explainer video? What was your favorite part of the process? Now that you've created it, what advice would you give to others thinking about commissioning a video?
RJ: I think we debated the explainer video for about 30 seconds. It just seemed like a must, because tax policy is so dry and dense. If we were ever going to get people to care about the topic, we had to make it sticky and entertaining, and a whiteboard video seemed like the perfect medium.
My favorite part of the process was seeing the words come to life. We wrote the script in-house, but they were just words on a page until we got the initial storyboard from you folks. I think that was an “Aha!” moment for everyone.
My advice to others would be to spend some time talking to your artist before you sign a contract. In both emails and phone conversations, I was struck by the enthusiasm that Wienot Films displayed for this project. You guys asked great questions, you shared your ideas, you took the time to make sure our visions were aligned. I was comfortable right from the start, and that made the whole process easy and productive.