Do You YouTube?
When you think of YouTube, perhaps it’s the do-it-yourself entertainment of lonelygirl15 or the mysteriously faceless Pachelbel’s “Canon” guitar whiz that comes to mind.
But nonprofit organizations have been leveraging YouTube to trumpet their causes for some time now. And recently the company launched the YouTube Nonprofit Program, which makes it even easier to watch nonprofit video content on the Web.
Nonprofits that register with YouTube get access to a free nonprofit-specific YouTube channel, where they can post everything from footage of their work in the field to public-service announcements to interviews with celebrity activists. The channel allows viewers to engage with a nonprofit by exchanging messages, subscribing to its videos and posting comments about what they’ve viewed. There also is a viral-marketing element to the program, since viewers can electronically share content with friends.
YouTube, owned by the search giant Google, has a unique status as a video-based, social-media site — a fact immensely appealing to the nonprofits already using it. Those organizations say video’s immediacy — its extraordinary potential to engage people in a direct, sensory way — will make the partnership between YouTube and nonprofits effective.
“YouTube is providing a way for nonprofits to get their message out over video, which can be very powerful,” says Jove Oliver, director of marketing and communications for the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the first organizations to participate in the YouTube Nonprofit Program.
Nonprofits that partner with YouTube can embed a Google checkout donation button on their individual channel — the page that displays their video content — allowing donors to make contributions directly from YouTube instead of being routed to the organization’s homepage. Google has offered to process all donations coming from YouTube for free until at least the end of 2008.
In addition, YouTube will promote nonprofits participating in the program by rotating their video postings in the “Promoted Videos” areas across the site.
Shannon Murphy, the press secretary at Strong American Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for education-policy reform in the U.S., says the YouTube Nonprofit Program is helping her organization expand in ways that other methods of constituency building and donor engagement cannot.
“It is enabling us to really build an online community of supporters,” Murphy says, adding that the program “allows us to connect with folks in a way no leaflet or piece of literature ever could.”
Murphy says SAS’s “ED in ‘08” campaign recently made it to YouTube’s “most watched” list with a public-service announcement featuring rap mogul Kanye West dissertating on problems afflicting the American school system.
The YouTube Nonprofit Program might be most beneficial when it comes to motivating young people to engage with issues and take action. That is exactly what YouthNoise, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to empower young activists, is betting.
“For our purposes, direct mail isn’t going to be that effective,” says Kerri Fjeld, the business and development manager at YouthNoise. “Our market is young people, and they feel more comfortable checking us out on YouTube.”
Fjeld points to the popularity (based on the number of hits it received) of a video interview with Chi Cheng of the rock band Deftones about the importance of political involvement as evidence that the YouTube Nonprofit Program is an effective way to propagate her organization’s message.
“We’ll be a lot more successful with our demographic with this [program],” Fjeld says. “YouTube is unlike other mediums: It gives us the ability to touch people and get our message out in a more direct way.”
For more information, go to http://youtube.com/nonprofits