It’s the nonprofit comms unicorn . . .
Can you cover serious nonprofit policy . . .
While being funny . . .
And doing so in a modern format (like a reaction video) . . .
And connect to a pop culture phenomenon?
Why, yes, you can . . . when you have a dynamic leader who isn’t afraid to put their face on video and a supportive communications director to lift up that content and get it out there.
Let me introduce you to today’s example of all of the above: The Expectations Project
Zakiya Jackson is the president of The Expectation Project (TEP), which mobilizes people of faith to demand excellent public schools for children who are Black, Brown, in poverty, and otherwise marginalized.
In these reaction videos, Jackson talks about the real policy issues and situations referenced in the hit sitcom Abbott Elementary. This includes having children fundraise for school needs by selling things and the duality of teachers being superheroes who are just ordinary people.
I learned about these videos from Jim Hile, TEP’s director of digital engagement and communications, who is currently participating in our Communications Director Mentoring Program.
Why These Videos Work
The videos are perfect. They are short Reels, direct to the camera, and start by referencing the episode’s events. Then Jackson pivots a bit to the larger real-world issues that the humor in the episode illustrates.
I think it’s a lovely example of both authenticity and living in the moment — both the policy moments of the issues you work on and the larger cultural moments that frame everything we do as nonprofits. These lighter but still relevant videos blend in nicely with the other Reels with Jackson, where she speaks more seriously about topics like the anti-truth in schools legislation in Florida.
Yes, You Can Do This Too!
This is a ridiculously easy approach to copy. You don’t have to have an entire show dedicated to your issues. Even if you do, you don’t have to react to every single episode.
But find those cultural moments in movies, music, and TV and have your leaders react to them quickly — in under a minute. You, the communications staffer, get that content into the platforms, add the captions and stickers, and post.
Show these to your program directors and executives and see who’s willing to have some fun with you while getting your messaging and issues across in a relevant and meaningful way.