You, too, can be a YouTube star!

First, the disclaimer: at my house, YouTube is primarily known as “show me some trains/trucks on the computer!” (You would be amazed at how many people seem to videotape trains going by, especially in China, for some reason…but I digress.)

What I’m really excited about right now is YouTube’s new nonprofit program. They have set up a dedicated nonprofit channel to which organizations can post their video–I’m not convinced that part, in itself, is that helpful, since most nonprofit organizations are using YouTube primarily as a hosting service and then embedding their videos in their websites, sending email blasts to direct people to YouTube, or in other ways directing traffic (there’s some ‘driveby’ effect, but, from the organizations I’ve talked to about this, it’s not their primary source of views, although the Nonprofit Program does list organizations in a sort of directory, which could increase visibility a bit).

But here are some of the functions that I like about this new initiative:

  • There’s a ‘Donate’ button that can be used for fundraising
  • You can add a call-to-action to your video with this really neat overlay they have
  • There’s help–they have tips and examples for how nonprofit organizations can (and do!) use YouTube to enhance their fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and advocacy (the link to those tips is at the bottom of this page).
  • While it’s still in a kind of pilot phase (and only available in the U.S. and U.K. right now), there is tremendous diversity among the participating organizations–from the Clinton Foundation to Rotary International to EarthJustice to the Anaheim Ballet!

    There are some restrictions–organizations have to register, they have to be 501(c)3s, and (which is redundant) advocacy/lobbying can’t be their primary purpose, but it’s free and really easy for organizations to get started. Think about it–YouTube is the 4th largest Internet destination in the world, with more than 300 million unique video viewers in 2008. If even a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of those people are interested in what you’re doing, and even if only a fraction of them look at your video and take action, that’s still potentially A LOT of people.

    Visit the link, check out some of the success stories, and give it a try. Three cheers to YouTube for creating content specifically directed at the needs of nonprofit organizations and, especially, for recognizing video’s potential as an advocacy tool and including the Call-to-Action overlay (which even I could figure out, so it must be super easy!).

    **Updated September 2009: Now the Call-to-Action overlay is even better–it can be timed to fit seamlessly with your video, you can embed active external links (like ‘sign the petition’, ‘donate’), and it’s all very user-friendly. Check it out!

    Links to get started:
    YouTube Nonprofit Campaign

    Success Story from YouTube blog


  • 2 responses to “You, too, can be a YouTube star!

    1. This is something that my practicum site could definitely use. We are always having problems with our website and especially the donate button. And we find encourage interest in our agency thru our clients’ stories. But with only one paid staff and no computer tech people, we struggle using new technology. I can’t wait to share this!

    2. melindaklewis

      Please let me know if I can help you guys put this together. Seriously–I have trouble even editing videos of my kids (!), but I found this pretty easy. You still need to be able to shoot your own video, of course, but then they have tutorials to walk you through layering on the donate and take action tools. I’d love to see what you put together!

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