The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

5 Essential YouTube Tips for Nonprofits

So you have a video. How do you make sure people actually watch it, share it and get moved to action?

Here are some great tips from Heather Mansfield, author of the new book, Social Media for Social Good. She agreed to me printing her 11 YouTube Best Practices for Nonprofits here. Where are the other six, you ask? Since this is a long list, I’m featuring five today and six tomorrow. Enjoy. And check out Heather’s very useful book here.

For the simple reason that YouTube dwarfs all other video sites in terms of users and traffic, it should be the starting point for your nonprofit’s online video campaigns. If you want to expand to other online video communities later (such as Vimeo, yfrog, Viddy, Veoh, and Viddler), then by all means do so. That said, the vast majority of nonprofits aren’t aware of all that you can do with a YouTube Channel in terms of design, branding, and community building. The best practices given here highlight the most important functions of a YouTube Channel and, if implemented, can transform your YouTube return on investment (ROI).

1. Use Your Nonprofit’s Avatar as Your Profile Picture
Your nonprofit’s avatar is very important for branding on YouTube. Your avatar will be displayed on all the channels you subscribe to and become friends with, as well as on the walls of any comments you post. It should be square and include your logo, and it should be the same avatar that you use on your other communities. YouTube is a visual community where avatars trump text or titles, so to maximize brand recognition, never use a photo as your profile picture.

2. Use the Colors of Your Avatar to Design Your Channel
YouTube offers one-click automatic branding for your channel. As with Twitter, you should log in, go to “My Channel > Themes and Colors > Show Advanced Options,” and enter the numeric values of the colors of your avatar. Again, these numbers can be provided to you by your graphic designer or guesstimated by using the 4096 Color Wheel.

3. Limit the Description of Your Channel to Your Mission Statement or One Paragraph
People are not on YouTube to read. They are there to watch videos and be entertained and inspired. Don’t overwhelm your viewers with unnecessary text. Simply go to “My Channel > Profile > Edit” and enter a brief “Channel Description” and link to your website. Disable most categories that you see there, such as age, movies, schools, and music. Keep your profile section simple.

4. Maximize Your YouTube Search Engine Optimization Using Channel Tags and Video Titles
YouTube is now considered the second largest search engine in the world, behind only Google. To maximize the possibility that your videos turn up in YouTube search results, first go to “My Channel >Settings > Channel Tags” and enter a wide variety of tags that you think potential supporters of your work will search for in YouTube. Obvious tags are nonprofit, organization, your city, your state, and your program areas (environment, homelessness, international development, and so on). Next, when you are uploading videos to your channel, again add as many tags as possible to each video, give a strong but brief description, and, most important, title the video to optimize your YouTube search engine optimization (SEO). Titles have the strongest impact on YouTube search results after your channel’s name, so be clever and creative when titling your videos. For example, an excellent video by the Community Housing Partnership with the title “Inside Looking Out” would probably get much more traffic if it were renamed “Inside Looking Out: Homelessness in San Francisco, California.”

5. Enable Channel and Video Comments
YouTube is much more than simply a place to host your nonprofit’s videos. It’s a thriving online community. If you don’t allow comments on your channel or your videos, then you have cut yourself off from the YouTube community. Unless your nonprofit works on controversial issues like religion, politics, immigration, or abortion and you don’t want to have to monitor your comments on a daily basis, enable channel and video comments. The vast majority of the time, the comments will be positive and supportive. For the few that aren’t, if they are exceptionally mean-spirited, then simply delete them, block the user, and move on. That said, there are seemingly more mean and grumpy people on YouTube than on any other community. Try not to be too shocked when you experience your first.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Raise More This Year with Smarter Fundraising Software

Learn More

Share your thoughts!

Join the conversation to offer your insight and experience. Have a question? We’d love to hear it!

About This Blog

Connie Poulos
Senior Associate, Copywriter

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

Read More

Want to raise more money and learn how to market your cause with bigger impact? You’re in the right place! The Nonprofit Marketing Blog is managed by our team of experts here at Network for Good. We’re here to bring you the best in nonprofit marketing trends, fundraising techniques, technology developments, and amazing nonprofit examples.

Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Want to be a better nonprofit marketer and fundraiser? Get alerts for free tips, key content, and other training opportunities.

Subscribe