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The Ultimate Guide to Live Video Streaming on Social Media for Nonprofits

Tatiana Morand Avatar
Tatiana Morand
Published on April 30, 2020

Given the current state of the world, it’s understandable if you’ve taken a bit of a step back to reassess your nonprofit’s fundraising and engagement strategy. But it’s more important than ever that you still continue to communicate with your audience, no matter where you’re at, instead of just falling silent.

And despite the fact that all in-person programming and events are suspended indefinitely, this may be one of the best times in recent history to reach your followers online.

Social media usage has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic and people are hungry for authentic, inspiring, and engaging content. This could be a huge opportunity for your nonprofit to connect with your audience, as long as you approach it in the right way.

The first thing you want to do is to adjust your messaging to make sure you’re sensitive to the current moment and what your supporters might be feeling. If your audience consists of essential frontline workers or healthcare professionals, they’ll be in a very different position than individuals who might have recently been laid off and are struggling to pay the bills, or parents who are suddenly trying to balance homeschooling with working from home.

Understanding your ideal donor or beneficiary is crucial right now, so you know who exactly you’re speaking to and what they might be dealing with. For example, depending on your audience, your content could include information on how your organization is pivoting to respond to current needs, helpful links and resources, entertainment or inspiration, or something in between.

But you also need to think about how you’re going to communicate with them.

Obviously, people are scrolling through social media like never before, but if you just throw together a static post, it might get lost amongst the noise.

Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be posting regular photos and videos on your pages, because you absolutely should — but it’s important to note that only a small percentage of your followers actually see your posts, and it’s not the most effective way to reach a large group of people.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd Using Live Video

However, there’s another way that you can mimic in-person engagement: live streamed video.

If you’re not familiar with live streaming, it means that you’re recording and broadcasting video content at the same time, and often directly to the social media platform itself.

In an era when most outings and public gatherings are cancelled and loneliness and isolation are higher than ever, live video can be a welcome source of human interaction and connection, especially for those who are stuck at home.

You can invite your followers to the livestream in advance, by letting them know the time and date you’re going live or even by sending out an event invitation.

And even if they don’t catch the invite, your followers will usually get a notification when you go live video so they have a chance to tune in.

As the host, you can also see people’s comments and reactions and respond to them in real time, so it feels like more of an interactive experience, and on some platforms, you can even invite others to join in on your live video so it streams both your screens at once.

But with so many social media platforms to choose from, how do you know which one to use?

Well, first of all, you don’t have to show up everywhere — it’s better to do a few platforms well than several platforms poorly. So, which social media platforms are you already using? Which have proven successful for your nonprofit in the past? Which platforms are your ideal supporters hanging out on? These are all valuable questions to ask yourself before deciding where to stream from.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can learn about the pros and cons of live video streaming on each platform in order to choose the one that’s right for your organization.

Below, we’ll go through overviews and examples of livestreaming on:

(And for more live-streaming best practices and examples, check out our full guide.)

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started.

Facebook Live

If your organization has any social media accounts, there’s a good chance you’re on Facebook. It’s one of the biggest platforms out there, with billions of active users all over the world, and Facebook Lives are common for both businesses and nonprofits alike.

When setting up your Facebook Live, you can opt to livestream from your page, in a group, or to an event, and do extras like add a description, check into a location, or tag friends. Your followers will get a notification when you start, and if you’re a registered charity or nonprofit, you can raise money for a cause during your live video, which can be a really powerful way to fundraise.

Some of the highlights of Facebook Lives are that they can be saved as videos so your followers can watch them later, as well as repurposed into ads.

One of the downsides, though, is that you can’t bring guests into your broadcast directly from the Facebook app — if you want to host a livestream with more than one video, you’ll need to use a third-party tool like Zoom Pro or Be.Live.

Looking for a great example? The organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation used Facebook Live to conduct a live interview between its policy manager and an expert on plastics pollution, a topic that’s very relevant to the mission and important to their audience.

Instagram Live

Instagram has become a hugely popular platform in the past couple of years, especially for Gen Z and millennials. It’s owned by Facebook, so Instagram Live has many similarities to Facebook Live, but there are a few key differences.

First, unlike Facebook, you have to go live on Instagram from the mobile app, not your desktop. When you go live, any of your followers who are online receive a notification, and your live video will then be pushed to the front of their Instagram Stories’ feed.

Another point to note is that Instagram Lives allow you to invite a guest into your broadcast, and the live will be broadcast to the followers of both audiences. This is especially great for organizations that might be working together or partnering on a project. Viewers can also request to join the live, and will be allowed on at the discretion of the host.

If your Instagram account is a business account that’s linked to your business Facebook page, and your Facebook page is approved for charitable giving, you’ll also be able to add donate buttons and donation stickers to your profile, helping you raise money.

On the flipside, Instagram Lives are only available on a user’s profile for 24 hours after they’ve been recorded, so if you want to repurpose or save the content, you have to download the video to your phone immediately after it ends. You can also save it as a highlight to your profile.

Want to get inspired? The nonprofit Fashion Revolution recently hosted a series of Instagram Lives on their page as part of this year’s Fashion Revolution Week from April 20th-26th. They promote the livestreams via the event calendar on their website so that their followers know what to expect and when to tune in.

Read More: How Nonprofits Can Use Instagram Stories to Raise Awareness For Their Cause

Youtube Live

YouTube is a platform that’s all about video, so it’s natural that it would be a place for live video to thrive. YouTube Live is a great way to reach your YouTube subscribers in real time, and can be done via mobile, desktop, or third-party tools.

In order to go live on YouTube, you need to verify your account with a phone number and ensure you have no restrictions. In order to livestream from a mobile device, you also need to have at least 1000 subscribers to your channel. Then, you can enable your account to livestream (which may take up to 24 hours to take effect) and you’re ready to go! After the live ends, the video will be saved to your channel, and you can go back and edit the description or title as needed.

YouTube is also rolling out a new suite of YouTube Giving Tools, to help nonprofits raise money directly on the platform either by partnering with existing content creators or fundraising themselves. There are lots of restrictions on this program at the moment, and it’s mostly geared toward larger organizations, so check your eligibility requirements first.

One example of this in action is the recent YouTube Live of music group The Midnight, who held an online concert to raise money for Plus1’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

LinkedIn Live

LinkedIn describes itself as an employment-oriented platform for professional networking and job seeking, so it may or may not be the right place for you to reach your audience.

If it is, and you have an active presence on LinkedIn already, you can look into LinkedIn Live, their version of live video streaming. Unfortunately, live capabilities on LinkedIn aren’t available to every user or page, and you have to apply and be accepted as a broadcaster in order to do it.

LinkedIn only accepts a limited number of broadcasters, and they’re looking for individuals or organizations who will commit to producing “compelling and interactive content on a consistent basis”. If you do get approved, LinkedIn Lives have to be conducted using third-party streaming tools, which may or may not have a cost depending on which one you pick.

Cisco and the Cisco Foundation held an educational LinkedIn Live talking all about women in tech from the 2019 Grace Hopper Conference. This was a good way to further their message while giving viewers a peek behind the scenes at one of their events.


In case you haven’t heard of Twitch, it’s the world’s leading video streaming platform for gamers. It’s a bit more of a niche platform, and might not make sense for every nonprofit.

However, you can set up your Twitch livestream to raise money for a cause (or work with a popular streamer to do so), making it a platform that’s worth looking into for anyone trying to fundraise.

According to sgENGAGE, there are four main ways for creators to raise money on Twitch:

  1. Single Creator live streams
  2. Multi Creator efforts on a single live stream (virtually or in-person organized events)
  3. Multiple Creators on multiple channels raising as a team
  4. Selling merchandise with proceeds going to charity (this is handled on the merchant side).

This means that even if your nonprofit doesn’t have a Twitch account, you can partner with an existing creator to fundraise or just get the word out about your work, thus expanding your network and reaching new audiences.

The Florida-based gaming conference Guardiancon is an example of Twitch fundraising with their live charity blitzes. At Guardiancon 2018, gamers raised $2.7 million for St. Jude Children’s Hospital via Twitch livestreams, showing the amazing potential this platform has.


TikTok Live

TikTok is one of the newest apps on the market but has quickly blown up, especially with Gen Z, and increasingly, older generations. If your target audience is hanging out on TikTok, it’s an incredible way to expand your reach, as the TikTok algorithm functions differently than some of the other social media platforms out there, and it seems to be just that much easier to have a piece of content go viral.

In order to livestream on TikTok, you just have to have at least 1000 followers. If your organization does, you can add a title to your video and start livestreaming to your followers right away!

Unfortunately, TikTok Lives are not recorded or saved — they’re simply a live broadcast that disappears when the livestream ends. So, while this option might help you reach a broader audience, it’s not the best for longevity.

Additionally, due to the young age of most TikTokers, a Forbes piece in late 2019 questioned whether TikTok might be more useful for raising awareness for nonprofit causes than raising funds, but that remains to be seen. For now, it’s an interesting platform to explore if you want to target Gen Z with general advocacy or awareness campaigns!


Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your choices for live video streaming on your nonprofit social media pages.

If you’re still having trouble deciding, you could also look into third party broadcasting tools that allow you to stream live video to multiple social media platforms at the same time by sharing the link.

And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. Happy streaming!



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