YouTube Powers Up Nonprofits

Increasingly, a vital part of the social media revolution is sharing photos and videos. On the forefront of social video is the Google-owned big daddy of the video world, YouTube.

Originally a play space for amateurs, YouTube has moved aggressively into the commercial world, not unlike Facebook, so it can capture revenue from advertisers. Late last year, YouTube made a strategic hire, bringing on a former Procter & Gamble executive as the video channel’s VP of online video global sales.

What does this have to do with nonprofits? Well it turns out that YouTube is already an active medium for fundraising and community engagement.

One of the more unique uses of YouTube on behalf of nonprofits, “Project for Awesome,” takes place at the end of each year. The project just completed its fifth year in December 2011.

Project for Awesome started when two brothers decided to urge YouTube enthusiasts to post videos about their favorite charities over 24-hour period. They used it to raise money for good causes and then allowed participants to vote for their favorite charity. The five charities with the most votes each got 20 percent of the money raised. The 2011 campaign brought in over $71,000. This combination video-crowdfunding approach is designed to help very small nonprofits who might not otherwise be able to generate much awareness for their causes.

YouTube’s Nonprofit Program

YouTube referenced the Project for Awesome campaign when it announced “YouTube Next Cause” for nonprofits on February 17 in its blog. The company said “YouTube Next Cause is designed to help organizations that are already changing the world better use online video to drive action.”

Through YouTube Next Cause, YouTube offered selected nonprofits the opportunity to attend a one-day summit in San Francisco on April 2, where they will get trained in YouTube fundamentals and engage in one-on-one consulting sessions. The application deadline was February 27.

However, nonprofits can still participate in YouTube’s free “Nonprofit Program.” The program includes premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity, the option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button, listing on the Nonprofit videos page, and the ability to place a Call to Action overlay on videos to raise money or find volunteers. Participants in the program have access to additional resources, such as YouTube’s “Playbook for Good” guidebook to creating a YouTube channel and information about creating video campaigns.

Numerous nonprofits have used YouTube to post videos, of course, but some have gone further and created entire video campaigns to support their causes. In addition to Project for Awareness, YouTube cites the following nonprofits who have employed video campaigns:

YouTube’s Nonprofit Program also provides an entry point into “Google for Nonprofits,” which offers free Adwords advertising, a free or discounted version of Google Apps, and other benefits.

If you have not yet added YouTube to your social media arsenal, now may be a good time to consider it.


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