Cost-Saving Magic: Stock Footage for Nonprofit Storytelling

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Imagine it's near the closing of your fiscal year, and for whatever reason, you need to create a video. However, your budget isn't as flexible like the 90's Richard Simmons. Do you not tell your story through video? No way! Your storytelling partners say, "Hey, we can trim costs using stock footage. There are some drawbacks, but it will still reach your goal with your budget."

Are your ears perking?

Nowadays, dozens of high-quality stock sites offer music, footage, photos, graphics, and more. In this article, we'll explore how your nonprofit can use stock footage to offset the costs of your video storytelling and share examples.

Benefits & Disadvantages of Stock Footage

Using stock footage offers many benefits, such as cost savings, time efficiency, and accelerated production timelines. However, it's crucial to consider its limitations, such as clip variety, continuity issues, and the need to tailor the stock footage to your brand's identity.


  • Save money: You can reduce production (filming) costs. Stock footage libraries offer a wide range of affordable options. These options allow you to access high-quality footage when your budget constrains you from filming additional scenes or b roll.
  • Save time: You can skip the hassle of organizing and shooting specific scenes. Instead, you can quickly find ready-to-use footage that matches your needs. This saves time during the production process.
  • Speeds up the process: Incorporating stock footage can expedite the video production timeline. When you have specific shots in mind, finding the proper stock footage can provide immediate visual content.

Cons or the trade-offs

  • Limitation to footage: While stock libraries offer a vast selection, diversity limitations exist. There's often a lack of ethnic (tons of white people on Stock sites) and situational diversity.
  • Continuity Issues: Since stock footage comes from various creators, there are challenges in maintaining visual consistency throughout your video. Careful editing and storytelling techniques can help ease the pain, but the problem persists. When stock footage is the primary source of the footage, your story edit will only sometimes be seamless, flowing between the various styles of clips.
  • Not tailored to your brand: Stock footage caters to many projects. Stock footage will not always capture the unique essence of your nonprofit's brand. If you find some clips that align with your visual style, the chances of finding more are slim due to the limitation of stock footage.

Stock Footage Sites Recommendation

Our favorite sites are FilmPac and Film Supply. The main reason is that they both offer scenes and one-off clips.

These scenes are a collection of clips with various angles featuring the same actor doing something in one location. This type of footage is helpful when building a sequence of 2-3 clips together to tell a visual story from beginning, middle, and ending.

Our go-to is FilmPac, which is more affordable with simple licensing than Film Supply. However, FilmSupply has the most stunning clips on the internet.

Best Premium Sites for Scenes

Best Budget Friendly for One-Off Clips (Some scenes)

Free and extremely limited

Budget Breakdown Using Sourced Footage

The mock budgets below focus on partial production costs. These numbers don't reflect the cost of equipment, pre-production, post-production, or profit for video businesses. Nonetheless, you can still see the cost savings of $6,650 between the two budget examples.

Filming DaysCrew SizeToal Crew RateStock Costs Total
Non-Stock Footage Budget Mini Documentary2.5 days
(1 interview, b-roll, and scenes)
3$3,600 per day$0$9,000
Stock Footage Budget Mini Documentary1/2 day (interview only)3$3,600 per day$550$2,350

Now let's look at some examples

Environmental Initiative Awards

We typically craft 5-7 stories annually for the Environmental Initiative Awards. We produce these stories between March and the start of May. That's roughly 1.5 months to develop the stories, film them, and edit 5-7 stories. 🤯 To put this in perspective, one of our typical brand films takes 60-90 days. This includes pre-interviews, filming the interview, filming scenes and b roll footage, and editing and polishing the story.

Part of the reason we're able to meet the deadline and deliver quality stories is our use of stock footage for b roll and scene development.

Each of the 5-7 award recipients lives across Minnesota. The travel and filming costs of capturing the necessary scenes and b roll would blow up the budget. Stock Footage allows us to work within our client's means (budget and scheduling) and deliver a quality story.

Did you notice more face time of the person talking on camera in the Apartment Recycling Story than in Jamez's story? This wasn't a creative choice but a limitation, as mentioned above.

While there are various recycling stock clips, they don't all work together. The clips look good but don't look or feel cohesive when you string them together. This relates to one of the cons mentioned above.


For our own evergreen stories, we used stock footage. We filmed all the readouts of scrips at one location. Then we sourced clips to enhance our stories visually. Due to our story type, the mismatch of stock footage worked in our favor as a montage.

Let's wrap up talking about stock footage

With this knowledge, you can confidently explore stock sites and make informed decisions that align with your nonprofit's goals and budget.

In conclusion, incorporating stock footage into your video projects can be a game-changer. It allows you to tell compelling stories while saving money and time. Finding the right balance between stock footage and original content is vital to maintaining a cohesive and impactful video.

Check out our article on creating videos with limited budgets for more cost-saving tips.

Tagged: Stock Footage

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an assumed name of Danami LLC