YouTube Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations
1. Reserve a YouTube.com URL to match your Web site.
It’s important that your organization’s YouTube URL match your Web site’s URL in case you ever promote your YouTube channel in print materials or in your e-mail signatures. For example, Big Cat Rescue:
Even if you don’t plan on using YouTube immediately, sign up and grab that URL before someone else does!
PLEASE NOTE: When signing up for your YouTube account, your “username” becomes your YouTube URL! So, in this example, Big Cat Rescue has the username “bigcatrescue.”
2. Use your organization’s logo as your channel’s profile picture.
Odds are that if you are setting up a YouTube channel, your organization is probably already utilizing other social-networking Web sites where your logo is configured to be your profile image. Your logo has never been more important or more valuable than in this era of Web 2.0, and if you’ve been utilizing Web 2.0, then your logo likely already has brand recognition amongst your online supporters. Continue building that brand by making your logo — or a variation thereof (88 pixels by 88 pixels) — your YouTube channel’s profile image. To upload your logo, go to Edit Channel > Personal Profile.
3. Limit the description of your channel to your mission statement or one paragraph.
YouTube is not about reading … it is about watching videos and social networking. Don’t overwhelm your viewers with text, and keep your description limited to the sharpest, most condensed summary of your organization’s mission and programs. To add a description, go to Edit Channel > Personal Profile.
4. Use the colors of your logo to design your YouTube channel.
Under Account > My Channel > Channel Design you will see precoordinated color themes across the top that you can choose from. Since you are using your logo as your channel’s profile image, use the colors in your logo instead. Each color in your logo will have six digits. If you don’t know what they are, ask your Web or graphics designer. Learn more about the  Color Wheel. See the Harvesters YouTube channel for an example of good use of color.
5. Upload a background image.
If you have the capability to design a background image, create one [in Photoshop] that is 1,280 pixels in width and 1,024 pixels in height. Don’t put graphics in the centered 900 pixels. Again, view Harvesters YouTube channel and right-click the background and save it to your desktop to view a simple example of a background compatible with YouTube. After you have uploaded the background, make sure you select “Yes” to “Repeat Background Image.”
6. Apply to the YouTube Nonprofit Program.
If your nonprofit has 501(c)(3) status and is correctly listed in Guidestar.org, then apply for YouTube’s Nonprofit Program. After applying, approval can take up to six weeks, so it’s good to get your application in sooner than later. Make sure you meet the “Program Requirements” before applying. After approval, your channel will be listed in the nonprofit directory and you will be allowed premium design and branding options for your channel [including a Google “Donate Now” button] and an increased opportunity to be promoted on YouTube. Be realistic about that last perk — it’s not likely! YouTube can only promote so many videos per day. You don’t get on YouTube to go “viral” — you get on YouTube to expand and organize your use of video in your communications and development strategies.
Heather Mansfield is owner of Los Angeles-based Web marketing firm DIOSA Communications and keeper of the Nonprofit Organizations MySpace site. This article appears under the Web 2.0 Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations on the DIOSA Communications blog