Nonprofits Tell Their Stories on YouTube

Nonprofits Tell Their Stories on YouTube

Social media has sure had a hand in moving us forwarding in making connections.  Individuals and businesses alike have been able to reach out across the world and be heard in ways that would have seemed impossible only a decade ago.  But there’s one media outlet that is giving special benefits to the nonprofit world giving them a little bit of an extra edge….. YouTube!  

Some of us may not want to admit just how many hours we’ve spent perusing YouTube videos for information, resources, education, or just plain entertainment.  Well now nonprofits have some specific benefits offered to them through the YouTube Nonprofit Program to aid in raising money and establishing a very large audience of followers on a more steady and long term basis.

The YouTube Nonprofit Program provides creators with a variety of premium features at no cost and is currently available in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia.  These features include donate buttons, call-to-action overlays, production resources, live streaming, and much more.  These are features only offered to nonprofits through this program and the only thing needed to qualify to use the program is the recognition of a 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.  However you will also need to establish a YouTube channel for your organization.

The donate button goes on your channel and links directly to Google Wallet allowing visitors to donate without leaving YouTube.  If someone finds a video that moves them to donate they can make that donation without being directed to other sites or following links to additional pages.  (This feature is currently only available in the U.S. and UK.)  

The call-to-action overlays feature is text that will show up on your video that urges people to donate or click to go straight to your website and learn how to help.  You can even set the link to direct to specific landing pages if the video is targeting a certain campaign.

YouTube offers an option to apply for production resources with access to shoot or edit your videos at YouTube’s creator studio in Los Angeles.  This is a great opportunity to create something professional on a small budget.

For nonprofits that do a lot of events or conferences the live streaming feature is helpful in showing your audience how you are involved and what you have to offer.  You can stream live video footage right onto your channel allowing your audience to follow the most up-to-date information on any events or information you want to put out there.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights used its YouTube Channel to live-stream a play about the Prop 8 trial in California regarding marriage equality.  The donate button on its channel generated more than $2 million and drove a new cycle of approximately 300 articles.  The donate button remains today encouraging viewers to support after watching one of the dozens of videos now posted. delivered its message through an interactive style video.  The organization used video annotations for its “Choose A Different Ending” campaign that allowed viewers to make decisions in a series of life or death scenarios.  The campaign was intended to educate younger generations about the consequences of decisions and received nearly half a million views.  

These are just a couple of examples of how nonprofits are utilizing this program.  You don’t need any expensive equipment or years of media experience to tell a moving story through video, you just need some creativity and a platform to show it.
Although eligibility only requires holding a 501(c)(3) status government, hospital or healthcare, school, childcare, academic or university organizations may not participate in the YouTube Nonprofit Program.  You can view a video demonstration of how the program works and apply for eligibility by visiting  The site also has helpful resources you can download to get the most out of YouTube for your organization’s benefit: Playbook for Good and Top 10 Fundamentals for Nonprofits.

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