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NonProfits on Video: Using YouTube to Promote Your Cause

Lori Halley 12 April 2008 7 comments

Conventional wisdom says that it is the small nonprofit organizations who stand most to benefit from Web 2.0 opportunities, where so much can be accomplished for such a small investment of time and resources. Online video, for example, puts multimedia broadcasting into the hands of organizations that could never afford to buy television air time.

There's no charge to post an unlimited number of video on YouTube, for example, and a camera and computer are all the gear you need to get started. But is online video-sharing really a useful communication tool for you?  Is it an effective way of connecting with others who share your interests, and spreading your nonprofit's message?

Consider this:

A report by eMarketer in February 2008 estimates at 85 million the number of podcast viewers in the US alone. By the end of 2008, YouTube hopes to reach 1 billion playbacks -- and with 30 million visitors per day playing 100 million videos each day, that goal seems well within grasp.

That's a huge potential audience. What if you could reach even a fraction of that number? What if you could tell your nonprofit's most compelling stories to the rest of the world, or let donors see for themselves the results of your projects in the field?

Anyone can sign up for a free account to post a video on YouTube (and American 501c registered charities can also take advantage of a special section dedicated to nonprofits: http://youtube.com/nonprofits, which includes enhanced promotion and a fundraising option via Google Checkout).

YouTube's own videa called Broadcast Your Cause gives tips for creating an effective video for your nonprofit, and making the most of sharing it online. It is a short introductory video (just over 2 minutes) so it hits the highlights quickly.

We've enlarged a bit on those video tips with a few more ideas -- but please feel free to share your own video experiences and advice in the comments section below.

Five Tips for NonProfit Videos:

1. Reach out: Think of your video as one-half of a conversation, not "a shrunken TV screen" on which you must perform. Ask questions, invite comments, and let your viewers know the address of your nonprofit's blog where they can find more information about your cause and continue the dialogue.

2. Partner up with like-minded organizations to promote each other's work -- or even to collaborate on your podcasting ventures. YouTube's channels and search function make it easy to find other nonprofitss on YouTube who are working for the same cause.

3. Keep it fresh: Frequently updated content will keep an audience coming back for more: consider a series of short videos, rather than one long.

4. Spread your message by embedding your video in your blog, on your website, and on social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Include the link in your organization's newsletter, or email it to your members with an invitation to view, comment, and share.

5. Be genuine: Slick professional video production is much less important in this new media than a sense of honest communication -- person to person -- about this cause that's close to your heart.

Explore YouTube's Non-Profit & Activism channel or Nonprofits page for a sense of what other organizations are doing. What ideas come to mind for your own organization? How might your nonprofit use video to carry your message to the world?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Saturday, 12 April 2008 at 11:54 AM


  • Youtube » NonProfits on Video: Using YouTube to Promote Your Cause said:

    Saturday, 12 April 2008 at 6:41 AM
  • Maha said:

    Saturday, 10 May 2008 at 8:48 AM

    This is such a useful article. People are immediately moved by images- moved into action, and if you can provide a space where people can hear stories and take action immediately that is GOLDEN. It is clear that there is so much to be had from non-pofits creating their own video as well as connecting with already existing docs that highlight their causes. So many audience members at films walk out looking for a way to help, and its often not as easy as it could be.

    Some computer geek types and I are fast at work on creating an online space that works towards solving that problem. You tube and google checkout are leading the way. And articles like these are encouraging us to know we are in the right space making change for good!




  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 11 May 2008 at 8:52 AM

    @Maha, do me drop a note when Call2Action.com launches: I'm interested to see where you go with this!

  • Maha said:

    Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 2:22 PM

    Rebecca, thanks for your interest I certainly will!

  • Chris said:

    Thursday, 31 July 2008 at 8:09 PM

    YouTube is absolutely the king of video locations, but I thought some of threaders might be interested in more one-to-one solutions/tools that can be used in recruiting corportate sponsors/donors, and communicating with their existing giver-base.

    Here are a few options/products you should check out- some are free, most are affordable and custom solutions are always available.

    Disclaimer:  I do business development for the company, but wanted to at least share the free versions to help you out - also, we are considering a non-profit special pricing structure - and I'd love to know what an appropriate percentage discount to shoot for would be.


    http://www.bubblecomment.com  - free public way to send any website page + your own personal video comment*

    http://www.bubblejoy.com - free and fun video Ecards service*

    http://www.bubbleguru.com - monthly subscription service that lets you add video overlay bubble messages to any website easily

    http://www.bubbletestimonial.com - monthly subscription service that lets you collect, manage, and showcase customer testimonials on your website easily

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Friday, 01 August 2008 at 4:59 AM

    Chris, thanks for sharing these links, and for explaining your relationship to the company. It would be really interesting to see more examples (like the Richmond SPCA 'case study' given on the bubbletestimonial site) of how nonprofits have been putting these tools to practical use. We like case studies!

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 1:32 PM

    Thanks to low-cost cameras, and free or inexpensive software tools, there’s a place for video production within the budget of even small nonprofits and associations. And distributing your videos on the Internet has never been cheaper or easier...

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