Video is a powerful medium and YouTube is a source of all things search. Humanity plus technology is a win for any nonprofit organization. We know this. But what about hosting video?

Creating the videos themselves might be a series in and of itself. The equipment used to produce your video can range from your cell phone to contracting with a director / producer. For the purpose of this article, let’s presume your videos are produced and ready for a YouTube Channel.

YouTube is more than just a host for your videos. Your YouTube Channel should be treated as landing point, brand funnel and strategic part of your overall marketing strategy.

YouTube as a Landing Point for Brand Discovery

Hosting videos on YouTube helps take the burden off of your website’s server. Of course, you want people to watch videos on your web property with an embed, but don’t forget to be discoverable. YouTube is widely known to be the second largest search engine, right behind Google.

“In 2014, YouTube officially became the second-largest search engine, with over 300 hours of content uploaded every minute, and those billion unique visitors watch more than six billion hours of video every month.” Dave Rosner, Entrepreneur

Once your videos are found, your channel should keep their attention. As a nonprofit, optimizing your YouTube Channel is important and should be treated as a key landing point (or landing page) for your nonprofit.

A landing point is a place where people gather to learn about your organization. You can optimize your YouTube channel so that once you are found, you keep your viewer’s attention then provide them a call to action.

The following steps will help make your YouTube Channel Page into a key landing point online by setting up your channel, utilizing playlists, and even promoting donation cards.

Setting Up Your Channel

Be sure to have channel art and logo that is consistent with the look and feel of your other social channels and web property.

You can add both channel art and links. Both options are changed from hovering over the edit pencil on the top right of your channel art. You can add up to five links to appear on your channel art plus your Google Plus profile.

Channel art should be 2560 x 1440 pixels. More information on this from YouTube is in their YouTube Help Answers. You can create your Channel Art on Canva; they have more information about Channel Art here.

Your profile image, however, is automatically imported from your Google account. So if you want to change that at all you’ll need to do that in your Google profile settings.

“Your channel icon comes from your Google account. Changes may take a few minutes to show on your channel.”

Channel Playlists Keep Donors’ Attention

Of all the things your nonprofit can take advantage of on YouTube, the most important is playlists. This allows you to intentionally curate content for your audience.

A YouTube playlist is a way to both organize your uploaded videos as well as videos you didn’t upload. Meaning, if you have a series on the Adopt A Pet Summer campaign, those can be in their own playlist. But if Channel 7 news is talking about your program, you can add that to a playlist called “Mentioned in the News.”

The key is that you don’t have to own a video in order to put it in a playlist that appears on your channel. This is a good way to let people see videos that are about your organization, through other channels and content producers.

Playlist Screenshot of's YouTube Channel
Playlist Screenshot of’s YouTube Channel’s channel (does a great job optimizing their playlists. After the featured videos they include playlists in order of importance: Stories from the Field, About, Matt Damon Goes on Strike, etc.

The balance of their videos are organized in a playlists further down the page. The beauty of the playlist is once a visitor watches one video, YouTube will autoplay the next one. You’ll want to intentionally order your videos for this reason.

Playlists are not static by any means. You can continually add content or change the content to any playlist. You can also change the position of the playlist on your Channel Page. Using your Channel Page in this way shows that you’ve curated great content for your nonprofit.

Other nonprofits using playlists well are Nature Conservancy, No Kid Hungry, and Rotary International. The good news is that you don’t have to have their budgets to take advantage of playlists.

Feature a Video to Arouse Attention

YouTube allows you to feature a video on your channel. This video will be displayed prominently. This can be done for both new to your channel visitors and returning subscribers.

Most nonprofits I ran into on YouTube are doing this well like United Way.

United Way YouTube Channel Screenshot
United Way YouTube Channel Screenshot

Choose your featured video for new and returning subscribers by hovering over the pencil icon in the top right of that section. Just make sure you’ve turned on customization. More about that is here.

Add a Subscribe Button

YouTube allows for many branding options, including a subscribe button. You can learn more about these options here. A subscribe button is a perfect call to action for your nonprofit. This way folks visiting will be notified when you upload a new video.

Suggested Video

Suggested videos are great ways to keep people on your channel. Set this up by going here. Strategically, you will want this to be a video that has a mass appeal.

Use Annotations to Link To Your Site

Remember how we talked about a call to action? Annotations allow you to link to external sources. Placing these annotations at the end of your video allow you to use the content of the video to illicit a response. What should they do now that they saw this pet needs to be adopted? What is the action you want from your audience?

“Annotations can be used to add interactive commentary to videos, and for partners in the Nonprofit Program, they can be used to link to external sites. Video communicators can select when and where annotations appear as embedded content.” Geoff, Livingston, Mashable

You can learn more about annotations here. The bottom line is that annotations can be used to link to external sites, like your web property — specifically, your donation landing page.

Subscribe to Other Channels

Don’t forget to subscribe to other nonprofit channels, especially ones that relate to you. You can even feature these channels in the “Featured Channels” section of your channel.

“When you subscribe to other organizations’ channels or favorite other organizations’ videos, you can actually end up driving more traffic to your own YouTube channel.” Leah Readings, Capterra

YouTube’s Donation Cards

YouTube for Nonprofits has great info on how to optimize your channel and include donation cards. First you have to create a channel, then apply for Google for Nonprofits. Now you’re ready to follow their instructions to add a donation card to your video.

They also have a great video, of course, here. If you, as a nonprofit, are a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, you can select yourself. Google covers all of the processing fees so that 100% of the donation goes to you.


As part of YouTube for Good, Google created an outreach toolkit in this handy pdf document. This way your supporters who have their own channels can ask their viewers to support your 501(c)3 registered nonprofit organization.



Leveraging YouTube

Human connection, storytelling, and causes are part of the human experience. YouTube is the ideal place for your nonprofit to tell its story, increase support, and even receive online donations.

What’s stopping you?

Bridget Willard

Bridget is co-host of WPblab, co-organizer of Women Who WP Meetup, and Team Rep for the Marketing Team for

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