[Guest blog] What every nonprofit should know about transcribing video and audio content

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Sara BaumWhite arrow icon

[Guest blog] What every nonprofit should know about transcribing video and audio content

Finding ways to compellingly share the story of your nonprofit, the people you serve, and the stakeholders in your work is so important. Transcription of audio and video content can be a very powerful tool for telling your stories. In this blog post, I'll explain how you can leverage transcription services for your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts.

I’ve been a transcriptionist for over 20 years and am currently the owner of Sharp Copy Transcription. I started Sharp Copy because I believe in the powerful insights and value that can be gained from careful, professional transcription. I wanted to make exceptional transcripts available to organizations who can leverage them to do great work in the world. 

Transcription is the process of transforming voices to text and creating a written record of a spoken conversation.

There are many ways you can transcribe content, including: 1. Hiring a professional transcription company, 2. Transcribing content yourself (this can be time-consuming and tedious), and 3. Using automated transcription services (often affordable, but currently pretty inept at capturing dialect, accents, and the nuanced cadence of a conversation...and if you need exact quotes, this is not a great option).

You may have some of the following content in video or audio form: 

💛 Stories of people who have benefited from your programs or services

💵 Stories of donors/volunteers about what has motivated them to give

🥗 Footage of fundraising events

🎤 Presentations/speeches/testimony by leaders and stakeholders

👍 Social media or news media videos

🎙 Podcasts

📆 Recordings of meetings

In this blog post, I'll give you a little more information about how you can leverage transcription to gather important insights, communicate stories effectively, increase your audience, easily pull quotes, drive traffic, document meetings, and improve programs.

Reach a broader audience 📣

Providing transcripts expands your audience, demonstrates your commitment to equity and access, and ensures compliance with ADA regulations. Posting or linking to a transcript alongside a video/audio recording or podcast can allow the following audiences to engage who otherwise may not have:

🤟People with disabilities (for example people who may be Deaf, blind, or have auditory processing disorder and can use a screen reader or other device to access content if it is in text format)

🧐 People of different language backgrounds who may benefit from a transcript because they can take their time reading it and/or use translation software to access the content

💤 People who have Zoom/video/audio fatigue

🤷🏻 People who may not have access to the technology required to watch/hear a recording

🎧 People who cannot listen or watch because they are at work, in a public area, don’t have headphones, or for another reason

👀 People who want to skim through the content, search for certain terms, or cut and paste something

Easily pull quotes or clips for use in fundraising or other efforts 😌

Quotes are a powerful way to tell compelling stories and inspire people to donate. Reading how people have been impacted by your non-profit in a person's own voice helps contextualize your work and can leave a meaningful impression that will motivate donors.

Nonprofits often want to include quotes from service recipients or donors/volunteers in their materials. Having transcripts is really useful for quickly searching for and pulling relevant quotes for research and white papers, press releases, marketing materials, annual reports and other impact reports, and grant proposals.  

Finding a pull quote from a transcript takes a lot less time than reviewing hours of audio or video. One of our clients has said,

“We know we have to communicate through video in order to reach our audience, but our board and staff doesn't have enough time to review all of the video edits for content and impact. Having a transcript allows us to review material in a fraction of the time."

Drive more traffic to your website & improve SEO 📈

Nonprofit podcasters often hire our company to create transcripts of their podcasts which are posted online alongside the audio. This not only improves access and gives listeners/readers more choice in how to access the information, but is indexable and searchable by search engines, which can improve your SEO and the traffic to your website.

One nonprofit reported “After about three months of adding a couple of podcast transcripts, we saw some pretty good value for them. We saw a 15% increase in organic traffic to the website and a 50% increase to some keyword lift around the keywords that we were tracking." 

Document your meetings and ensure that action items are carried out ✅

Customers hire us to transcribe recordings of their board meetings, strategic planning meetings, consumer advisory meetings, and other meetings. This frees meeting participants from taking notes during the meetings and creates a valuable, searchable, and objective record of the meeting. Action items, next steps, assignments, main themes, and concerns can be documented and followed up on much more easily. A historical record is also created of the organization’s decisions and decision-making process.

For situations where exact transcription is not required but where instead the identification of themes or action items is a priority, many transcription companies (including my own) offer meeting synthesis and summarization services. We work with customers to find out what takeaways they want to document from their meetings, and we take notes and summarize/synthesize the meeting so that organizations can move forward right away on whatever needs to be done, rather than having to first review or make sense of the meeting notes or recordings.

Maintain a lasting record ✍️ 

Audio and video files can become corrupted, lost, degraded, or unable to be played due to software changes. A text version of your audio/video content can provide a great, lasting, and searchable record of your audio and video content, your fundraising efforts, and your organizational history.

Improve your programs and services 🚀

The insights gained from transcripts can help you to better understand the experiences of those you are serving, to evaluate and improve your programs, and to document your organizational outcomes. Transcribing interviews or listening sessions with those you serve can allow you to really get to know your consumer/clients by being able to turn back, time and time again, to “listen/interact” with them, without placing the burden on them to retell their stories. Having information in written form can help make your process of program development, evaluation, and improvement more efficient and robust.

Some final thoughts. . . 

Captions on videos are useful and are great for accessibility, but they still require someone to play audio or video. A transcript allows people to access the content without having to watch or listen.  

Not all transcription companies or transcripts are created equal. Transcription is a surprisingly subjective process, and for nonprofits who want to authentically represent people’s voices and ensure accurate quotes, it’s worth asking any potential transcribing service the following questions:

🧐 How do you match transcribers with recordings? What factors are considered when making this match?

⏯ What kind of quality control measures are in place to ensure that the final transcript matches up with the audio/video content provided?

🤨 How are dialects and accents handled?

❌ What, if anything, is left out of the transcripts or changed?

📜 What training and experience do the transcribers have?  

If you decide you want to try transcribing content on your own, I recommend ExpressScribe software and an Infinity or AltoEdge USB foot pedal. For a novice transcriber, it can take 6-8 hours to transcribe an hour of video or audio. For a professional, it is typically 2-3 hours. For many organizations, paying a professional company around $100 to accurately transcribe an hour of audio makes more sense than paying a staff member much more than that to do this task when they could be using their skills in other ways. 

Transcripts are useful tools for gathering important insights, communicating stories effectively, increasing your audience, efficiently creating content to be used in fundraising efforts, getting traffic to your website, documenting your meetings, and making your programs better.

I'm happy to chat further with anyone who is interested in leveraging the benefits of transcription for their fundraising efforts.

Givebutter made a $100 donation to Sara's campaign of choice, Our Stories Matter, for this guest blog.

Written By

Written by
Sara Baum
Owner of Sharp Copy Transcription.