Benefits of UGV

Why user-generated video just makes sense during the pandemic

What a year 2020 has been so far… Be it working from home, lockdowns and social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the way we live as well as our personal lives. Nobody and no industry has been left untouched by the virus. 

Budgets have been reduced, resources have been slashed, yet demand for digital content is higher than ever before. Faced with suddenly shrinking marketing budgets, communication professionals are now being forced to quickly shift priorities and reevaluate how they can best reach and connect with their audiences. With reduced budgets, and lessened capacity to produce visuals due to the lockdowns, they are in a tight spot. At least till now…

How the UGV trend has been accelerated by the pandemic

Due to the pandemic, commercial brands started experimenting with User-Generated Video content for TV. With all the late-night shows and celebrities working from home, society is more open to seeing real life in these formats. The previously polished, high-produced campaign has been replaced with videos celebrating front-line workers and using current event imagery that connects with audiences in a timely and meaningful way.

For Mother’s Day this year, the well-known retail brand focused its campaign on celebrating and giving thanks to the mums who are working from home, homeschooling, entertaining, and providing care all around the clock during COVID-19. It draws on UGC that is relatable and emotional, forgoing the overt sales pitch to focus on content that leaves a lasting impression.

User-generated content, or ‘authentic content’, is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc. —created by people, rather than brands and is considered the ‘new revolution in marketing’. At its heart, it provides something useful to its target audiences — its relatable, relevant, and true-to-life.

For content marketers, UGC (User Generated Content)  can have a range of benefits, from budgetary to imparting an authentic human feeling that can be difficult to convey through traditional marketing methods. 

straight from the communities you care about

During a time like COVID-19, it is more important than ever for organizations to step back from the ‘business as usual’ approach, especially with so many consumers across the globe being impacted financially, physically and emotionally by the pandemic.

Given this, impact organizations should also consider relaxing their definitions of ‘perfect content’ and instead look to embrace the ‘human’ element to better showcase authenticity, and foster connection. 

Impact organizations can embrace the content that their beneficiaries are generating, content that is being produced straight from the communities they care about. This can not only reduce content costs, but can also help to facilitate real, human connection, and dramatically increase performance on social channels.

Some key insights about user-generated content:

    • User-generated content increases brand engagement by 28%.
    • Users are twice as likely to share user-generated content than content generated by a brand.
    • 50% of consumers trust user-generated content over the content published on the brand’s own website.
    • Almost half (47%) of millennials and 36% of baby boomers trust UGC whereas only 25% of both demographics say they trust branded content.

The risks to keep in mind when working with user-generated content

However, not every user is a great storyteller, nor a good photographer. People will give you authentic content, but sometimes, this content is below your quality standard. Quality control and supervision is again the key to ensure that your brand image is protected while allowing users to generate content.

And finally, before you can collect and publish user-generated content, there are a few legal issues that you have to take care of: The makers have to give consent for the use of their image and the copyrights of the footage have to be cleared before it can be used in any kind of campaign.

TheHive: user-generated video with professional editorial support

At MAKMENDE we believe that with the right creative and technical guidance, anyone can produce great content. We have been coordinating and providing editorial guidance for over 10 years,  instructing professionals and non-professionals around the world how to tell stories for impact-driven organizations.  That’s why we designed a service for impact-driven organizations that help to gather fast and cost-effective stories straight from their projects.

So how does TheHive work?

Our Amsterdam based strategist starts by making an overall creative framework that is on-brand with your organization and that supports your communication goals. This will help focus all user-generated content that is going to be produced. Unify it creatively as well. We call this concepting and a rough concept can be presented after one or two short meetings of 30 minutes with you and your team.

Then our creatives translate your communication messaging into short and easy to follow up instructions for non-professionals. Those simple instructions are then shared with your beneficiaries through WhatsApp, who start to tell their story with their mobile phones. 

Another level of editorial guidance is provided during the collection of the footage by our local journalists. They assist your beneficiaries with content collection by providing feedback and instruction in the local language as they are based in the same country.

The final round of editorial support is provided by MAKMENDE during the editing, once we receive the footage at our office. Our editors and creatives cut up the images into well-told stories that are suitable for any of your channels. Video and audio post-production provides the finishing touch.

Want to learn more about how TheHive can help you? Reach out to our team to plan in a presentation on Zoom or over the phone.

Workshop Effective storytelling for impact organizations

How to create effective storytelling for impact organizations?

Storytelling, everybody is doing it. That is precisely why it is important to stand out.You can now sign up for our workshop, and find out how to use storytelling effectively nowadays for your organization. Just for friends and partners for a friendly price of 99 euro.


– The state of storytelling in 2019: inspiring cases

– Tips for using storytelling effectively for your organization

– A storytelling strategy: working on a specific project yourself

In short, a workshop that you must join if you want to stand out with storytelling.


This workshop is €99 per person. We will send an invoice by email.

Where and when

The workshop is 3 hours and takes place in Amsterdam. You can choose from 1 of the following dates:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 2019: 10:00 – 13:00
Tuesday, November 12, 2019: 10:00 -13:00

Our previous workshops were attended by Communication managers / employees of, among others, Aidsfonds, Oxfam Novib, FMO, Plan, Habitat for Humanity, Action Aid, ect. Register quickly, full = full.

Register by filling in this form or send an email to (Workshop will be in Dutch)

Here’s 3 ways how visual storytelling can help.

Annual reports, impact reports, midterm reviews…They are important milestones, but not always easy to digest.
Here’s 3 ways how visual storytelling can help.

Photography is your best friend

Most reports today include photography but often, not much time is spent on a consistent photographic style and narrative. The photographs might be taken from a variety of different projects throughout the year with difference in style and quality. We believe that creating photography specifically for your report makes all the difference. The photos tell your story from A to Z, just like the story you’re telling with words.  

We have a network of photographers around the world, so they never have to travel far to get you the best images for your visual story.  

Photoshoot for SOMO on the garment industry in Myanmar 

Photoshoot for RVO on access to electricity in Rwanda

Photoshoot for Care on climate change in Uganda

Stories from the field 

How do you showcase or evaluate your theory of change? These are often complex processes involving different actors and long term processes. Breaking the process down into smaller bits and showing what the pathway of change looks like in real life, can be of great help. Not just to convince people of how important these processes are, but also as a starting point for further discussion. This is what we did for the Girls Advocacy Alliance. We worked with local journalists who go on a journey to find out what triggers change. How does it come about and what impact does it have on the ground?

The result: a series of mini documentaries which were used to spark discussion with professionals and partners of the Alliance. 

Literally step into a project, with 360 video

360° video is an immersive experience. When you put on the goggles you’re transported to a new reality. You can look behind you, above and below and hear the sounds around you. That’s why it’s also a very effective tool for selling or showing the impact of your projects. 

You could create hefty reports about the impact of your projects, or, you could invite your funders or partners to experience it for themselves. 

Want to know more? Mail Ivan ( with any question how MAKMENDE could help you infuse your report with strong visuals.

360 video for GAIN on nutrition in the garment industry in Bangladesh


Spotlight on our network: Cameras don’t make movies, people do.

Spotlight on our network: Cameras don’t make movies, people do.

Today we wanted to put a spotlight on one of the talented visual storytellers that we’ve worked with. Vee Salazar is a Filipino documentary filmmaker who we’ve collaborated with on multiple projects. She was the videographer for our projects with GAA/PLAN, and most recently Care. We are happy that she could squeeze some time in for us to get to know her a bit better. This is her story.

“I am what you may call a late bloomer. But it never came to my mind that it’s too late, because it never is. Yes, it took me a little while to figure things out, but I never lose hope.”

My first experience with filmmaking came about when I was in college. I took an elective course in introduction to film, but I didn’t know back then that this was the path that I wanted to pursue until I became a production intern for Rappler, an online news website in the Philippines. There I came to realize my love for making documentary films. I learned to see how important it is to tell even the simplest of stories.

With Rappler, I had this vision of being able to make the people see that there is more in the world than just the four walls of our comfort zone. I had an outlet and I made sure to use that. This opportunity gave me much more than just making a living out of it – it made me aware of the issues and struggles people are facing.

Being a newcomer in the industry can be pretty intimidating and belittling. I’m surrounded by people that have much more experience than I have and I think that is one of the factors why I always feel pressured to create. It felt like I was living a cliché. At first, I was dragged down by my mentors who constantly told me I couldn’t do it and that I’m not good enough. These experiences made me shy to share my own thoughts and I was scared not to meet other peoples’ expectations of me.  

“There are much more important issues that we have to pay attention to other than our own insecurities.”

You have to remember why you do this and who you do this for: it is to tell a story, not to prove yourself. I’ve chosen this path not because I want to be relevant but because it’s the best I can do for the people – to tell their story. In my own little way, I’ve become one of the voices that has helped them say what’s needed to be said.  

Each story, may it be of a person, a thing, or a place is unique. I don’t limit myself to one topic because each one has its own importance. The reason for telling stories should not be limited to that of a national concern. Your goal can be as simple as making someone smile or inspiring them today. 

The stories that inspire me the most are the stories of courage and ingenuity, of how some people manage to overcome the impossibilities of life. I want my work to reflect the courage I see in the people that I create stories with. That those who did not dare to look will somehow finally pay attention.

We live in the digital age and probably three out of five videos we see on the internet have the same plot lines but just because you’ve seen this before, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth telling. If your main goal is to get the story viral then you are missing the whole point of storytelling. Yes, the views, likes, and shares mean you’re able to make the people be aware of this particular story, but were you able to get your message across?

“I’d like to think of myself as a tool for them to get their stories across. I’d like to help them raise their voices.”

So remember, this is not about you. These stories you’re telling are about the people you’re echoing. Don’t focus on how your passion can pay you, the nice portfolio, the awards or the fancy festivals, tell the story because you believe in its integrity and it’s something you really care about. What good will it do to your subject if you’re only thinking of your own benefit? These stories we tell are not ours, we’re only serving as a platform for them to get their message across. And if you fail to give them their voice, then you fail as a storyteller. 

So, aspiring storytellers: listen – don’t isolate, and dig deeper. 

“Our experience is what makes us as a person and if you haven’t found your fire, it’s okay. Keep on telling stories. And one day, in the montage of your life there will be spark, then you’ll ignite.”

communication partner of wwf

New partnership with IUCN and WWF

Makmende is proud to announce our new and shiny partnership with IUCN and WWF.

The prospect of this collaboration is very exciting! We aim to open up a dialogue about best practices to protect ecosystems around the world. Not a minor topic, we would say…
The bottleneck seems to be collaboration between business, government and civil society organizations.
Meanwhile, the scale of the problem desperately calls for joint solutions.
So, what works?
What strategies are most successful to forge collaborations and how can we learn from each other’s experiences?

Makmende is going on a trip around the world to find out. And don’t worry, we won’t be burning airmiles. No need, we have our people on the ground. Together with local journalists and filmcrews we’ll gather experiences from Benin, Philippines, Paraguay and the Netherlands.

No polished one-liners or incredible success stories, but perspectives from real people, dealing with the messiness of reality on the ground. Asking them, what works, really? We’ll then publish these perspectives through blogs, interviews, statements and videos and ask an audience of specialists what they think. Again, asking: “what works for you?”

Instead of using our content to dish up simple solutions, we hope to create a discussion between peers.
Because when it comes to the challenges facing our ecosystems today, we’re on uncharted territory. There’s no easy answers. We believe that an organization striving to protect nature can best position itself at the center of a constructive discussion, to then find the best way forward. We congratulate IUCN and WWF on taking the lead and opening up this dialogue and are thankful for the opportunity to contribute.

Spotlight on our network: from political activist to creator of stories

Spotlight on our Network: from political activist to creator of stories

Batoul is our local producer in Jordan. During one of our recent projects for Care, we had the opportunity to meet with her and talk about her experiences as a woman in the industry.
This is her story.

I was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, but my parents have Palestinian and Lebanese origins, so I’m never considered 100% Jordanian, rather Palestinian/Jordanian. My parents are very liberal compared to their family and friends. I was privileged enough to study abroad for quite some years even though the community questioned my parents for it. My international upbringing is not very typical for Jordanian women, but things are changing. A growing number of women, especially the younger generations, are studying abroad and then returning to Jordan. Just like me.
I graduated in 2013 and came back to Jordan during the Arab Spring. I really wanted to be part of the changes that were happening in the region.

I never thought that I would actually begin a career in film. I was very involved in the political scene. I have always been an activist. My desire to be part of the international conversation of politics was very intense. So I majored in political science but I was also fascinated by film and storytelling. I ended up doing both and luckily my parents were very supportive.

After graduating in Chicago I applied for jobs in the Middle East, specifically in Jordan and I got a job in communications at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). I would write stories and produce documentary pieces about Syrian refugees in Jordan, as well as other related items.

For me this was an incredible experience, because I got to be involved with human rights worldwide, and tell stories at the same time. It was an opportunity to learn about the people on the ground, while also learning the craft of storytelling.

“For me this was an incredible experience, because I got to be involved with human rights worldwide but also tell stories at the same time.”

I found that the refugee camps are a space where men feel emasculated. In this new country the refugee men are not allowed to work. They stay inside these small trailers where they rely on humanitarian support from organizations. The only people who could provide for their families were women who would volunteer for international organizations and make some money. Now the women were the breadwinners, they were taking care of the whole family!

When I walked into these households to create stories, women were the ones with powerful voices. They would accept me and so I was able to create very personal stories. I think my male colleagues found it more difficult to be welcomed intimately into these households.

“Still, I often find myself in a situation where I’m working with men and they underestimated me. They didn’t expect me to be so professional and fierce.”

As I started working in the field more independently I realised there is no big infrastructure for filmmakers here on Jordan. We’re a very small group, the’re maybe five or six major production companies in the country. While there are many female  employees in the industry, I still often find myself in a situation where I’m working with men who underestimated me. They don’t expect me to be so professional and fierce. Equal pay is another issue, because even if we enter a project as equal collaborators, men will negotiate unfair shares like 70-30.

On the other hand I think after the Arab springs there has been a tremendous growth in female voices and many platforms that support and empower women. Nowadays it’s easier to get support from other women around us, because this community is growing!

I see our field as a field of creation. For me it’s creating life! I see a producer as someone that creates. He/she is the womb for life.

For the development of my career I have a lot of questions which I am exploring right now. About love, spiritually, life, the human condition. I want to make mindful content, content that allows people to experience life through another perspective and explore the questions we may all have.

3 tips: how to distinguish your communication about gender

How to make your communication about gender stand out?

Gender equality and diversity are hot topics. So how can you distinguish yourself when communicating about your work on the issue? We share with you three tips we at MAKMENDE find helpful when communicating about this topic. And of course we give examples of how we translate these tips into concrete communication assets.

TIP 1: Don’t talk about women, talk to women

It may be an open door, but this is a classic mistake many NGOs and brands still make. They show their involvement with a theme, but forget to give a voice to the people they talk about. Dare to start a direct conversation with the women participating in your program, and challenge the viewer by addressing him or her directly.

 Let’s have a conversation with Uwe, The Hard Headed Business Woman (created for BoP innovation Center)

TIP 2: Use humor (even if the subject is serious)

For charities, humor is not the most obvious tactic, with the majority using emotional and sometimes unsettling advertisements to convey urgency.

However, when it comes to serious or difficult issues such as gender equality, a little humor can also be very effective, attracting public attention and encouraging online engagement

With this campaign for Microbanker, we generated 40,000 euros and a million views in no time.

TIP 3: “Knock women off the pedestal!” 😉

Many impact organizations portray women as heroes in their communication campaigns. They are often depicted as super entrepreneurs, leaders or fearless warriors. While women often rightfully deserve such titles 🙂 , it is no longer original to use this in your communication. We believe it is much more effective to see the real women and get to know them. That is powerful enough in itself!

For a campaign for Mamacash we let young women speak about sexuality. 

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