YouTube for Nonprofits

YouTube is a social site used to upload, watch, and comment on video content. It is also considered the 2nd largest search engine after Google.

Pros and Cons

100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. From 2014 to 2015, the average person spent 40 minutes on YouTube. With a large, incredibly engaged audience, this platform can be key in one’s marketing efforts. Organizations can utilize the search function to strategically name videos based on common key phrases, increasing the likelihood of a viewer stumbling upon their page.

Videos add a compelling component to your nonprofit’s storytelling strategy. It can be more engaging to see the work your nonprofit is doing rather than simply reading about it.

YouTube also makes it easy to share your videos across other platforms or embed them directly into your website.

In order to present a professional image and capture viewers’ attention, you must produce high quality video. Your nonprofit may need to invest in filming equipment and editing software which are typically quite expensive.

It’s important to keep in mind legal considerations when filming people. To avoid possible misunderstandings, it’s a good idea to get signed consent forms from individuals who will be appearing on film. If you plan on filming an event, you don’t need written consent from everyone attending, but you might want to post notices that filming will be taking place.

YouTube also has a dedicated program for nonprofits. Accounts are given access to additional technical support, a few special editorial features, and the use of their LA or New York production studios. Once you have set-up your YouTube account, you can apply to Google for Nonprofits. Find out more here.


If you have a Gmail account, you automatically have a YouTube account. This is the easiest way to get started creating your own channel.

1. Go to YouTube, and select ‘My Channel’ on the left-hand side of the screen.


2. New YouTube users can’t customize their URL until the channel has at least 500 subscribers, so until you reach that point, it’s important to brand your page with high quality logo images.


3. In the ‘About’ section of your channel, add a description of your nonprofit.

4. Add links to your main web page and other social media sites in the section below the description.


5. Start adding videos. Click the ‘Upload’ button in the top right corner of the screen.


6. Once you’ve uploaded your video, add a description – this will help to improve your search rankings.



The most-watched videos on YouTube are between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Posting some longer videos is ok, but shorter films are will truly keep viewers engaged.

You can also attract new viewers if you optimize your videos for search-ability by adding a description and keywords to all of your content.

Make sure that your videos are related to your nonprofit’s message and clearly add to the story-line you’re trying to promote. You could film testimonials from volunteers or staff members. Tutorials or public service announcements also work well in video format.

Once you have a number of videos uploaded onto YouTube, you should consider organizing them into playlists. Grouping them by topic or series will make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for.


You’ll want to make sure that all new content that you add to your channel is sorted into a corresponding playlist.


How to Measure Success

The number of views that your videos receive are a good starting point to measure your success. But that number alone can’t tell you how many of those views were unique or from a few dedicated followers watching your content over and over again.

When engagement is your goal, take a look at how many likes, comments, and channel subscriptions you’re getting. Those give you a sense of the people who feel strongly enough about your nonprofit’s videos to publicly interact with you. Comparing these numbers against each other can also give you deeper insights into how well your channel is doing. Distilled also has a list of metrics to help you get the most information out of all of your YouTube content.

Once you’ve uploaded videos to your account, YouTube has built-in reports that can give you details on your visitors and trends. If you’re looking to dig deeper still into your data, track your referral traffic  — are most people finding your videos through keyword searches, or are they being directed to your content from an external link?


Audience retention rates are another good indicator of how successful your content is. If your videos are too long or don’t grab the viewers’ attention right from the start, you’ll see people click away from your content.


Looking through these reports can help you understand what content works best, and what you can tweak to make your YouTube channel as successful as possible.