Youtube and NonProfits

September 16, 2008 at 5:39 pm 8 comments

In spite of its many teenage confessionals and frat videos, make no mistake: YouTube is more than just a vestibule for teen angst, crotch-kick footage – or just a place to watch illegally posted prime-time television shows (something, I, of course, would not consider doing).

Youtube footage has a large audience – and far reaching consequences. Earlier this year a Baltimore police officer was suspended after footage of him physically and verbally abusing a teenage boy surfaced on Youtube. And “police are increasingly relying on YouTube as a crime fighting weapon”.

Citizens capture footage of an event before reporters (and sometimes police) even know there is a story. Disasters (like Hurricane Katrina) are being covered by regular people, people who are involved in the story or are witnesses. They are becoming the reporters and they are often more compelling ones as they have background knowledge of, and an attachment to, the story. “If you look at what individuals are showing and posting on YouTube, it’s just astounding. You get a much better sense, I think, of the scale of the disaster and of the personal nature of it. You really get a strong sense of how individuals have been impacted”

In the case of Nonprofits – the stories can be told by people affected by an issue or supporters of a cause – often with amazing results.

The Youtube platform enables Nonprofits to use video to:

  • Educate People about an issue. (This can involve personal testimony/experience and more. e.g. “24 Hours for Darfur is a global video advocacy and education campaign to help end the genocide in Darfur.”)
  • Encourage people to take action
  • Serve as messages to government
  • Unite people with similar views and empower them Youtube can become a Hub to show solidarity for a cause. (WITNESS uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. We empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.”)
  • Show people they are not alone (for instance – depression or sexual abuse)
  • Grab the attention of people who might be interested, but have not yet been compelled to act
  • Get more people involved and engaged with your cause (the Human Society’s Youtube “competition drew 2,000 new members to their email list, provided HSUS a whole batch of new online videos to use, and garnered over 95,000 views of the winning clip.”

Videos can involve:

Video Tips

  • Consider starting a contest. As in the Humane Society’s experience, contests can be a great way of getting new people involved and invested. Worksafe ran a “Serious Injuries Stop With You” contest asking for students to create videos about work safety. And Greenpeace encouraged artists to record themselves playing Beethoven’s 5th.
  • Invite people to be a part of it – the larger “it”. Ask them to send in videos (or even pictures) that will be part of a compilation. Stand Up to Cancer is a perfect example – they asked people to submit pictures stating why they “Stand Up to Cancer” (e.g. “Because of my Dad” etc. which were then edited into a compelling video).
  • Names make a difference. Make sure to tag the video so it can be found by people interested in your cause or nonprofits. And consider how you title it: “Often, an effective title (e.g. “This Is Why I’m Hot” instead of “Global Warming is Serious”) or interesting tags can increase the number of people who click on your video.”
  • Encourage people to participate. Ask them to post related video comments etc. The Vlog Brothers Project for Awesome for the Humane Society – Encourages Donations – and asks others to post video to continue spreading their message
  • Sincerity counts. So [b]e genuine — interview people who are affected by the work your organization does, record actions you are taking to solve problems in your community, ask YouTube users to sound off on why your issues are important. These tactics will resonate much more with the YouTube audience than a piece you think is hip or one that features a celebrity.”
  • Humour can work too. Consider “Sing A Long” which reminds men to check for testicular cancer with a hilarious ditty.
  • Use the Bonus Features. Youtube recently introduced annotations, a feature “that allows you not only to annotate your uploaded video with captions, but also to create links within the video to other video clips or to your YouTube channel”. Consider how you could might integrate this feature to link other videos.

Other Tips

  • Create a Channel. You need one to create an organized place people can go and find all the videos (e.g. Campus Progress Action).
  • Create a Playlist. A Playlist can highlight some specific videos (e.g. the ones made by Youth for Beatbullying).
  • Create a NewsRoom. With regards to Photos, Videos etc. – make it easy for people to share and show your content. Having a central hub (website etc.) to aggregate efforts (as Be the Full Stop does) is excellent (read: do it!) but also consider combining all your efforts into a type of “social media newsroom” – a place where you amalgamate items people can easily use and repost (the most effective videos/pics in your arsenal, news items/releases and more), so people (and tradional media) don’t have to search, space (take this tip from big business –e.g. Ford).
  • Create Buzz. Think about how you are going to get the buzz going – a video has no effect if people don’t watch it. Figure out how to promote it – e.g. Be the Full Stop’s site asks people to take action by “emailing everyone in their address book with a link to the Click TV ad” ”. Or consider Presentense which “had a “Viral Video Party” when a new video release was due, where they got a group of about 70 people in a room with computers, and they send the video to their friends, friends’ friends, etc.”
  • Note that Youtube has a nonprofit program (Nonprofit must be U.S. based, however)

Great Resources

More Resources

  • can be found bookmarked on Delicious [my delicious Powertoyou and YouTube ]

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

My Related Posts

Nonprofits and Social Media – Getting Your Fans to Help You

Flickr and Nonprofits

Facebook, MySpace and Nonprofits

Twitter and Nonprofits

More NonProfit Social Media Ideas


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