In the past, we’ve explored how nonprofits are using social media to reach and engage new supporters, long-term volunteers, and donors. And as news tools are introduced, organizations seek out ways to integrate them into their outreach strategies. Although video is far from a new tool, its newfound popularity (thanks to platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Instagram) has made it an attractive option for nonprofits looking to share their stories.

The desire to attract followers who are genuinely interested in a product or service is something that philanthropic organizations have in common with traditional businesses. However, there are still distinct differences between the two. For example, your idea of success might differ from that of a major consumer brand’s. Despite those differences, you’ll be using video in a similar way to engage and educate people — and that’s where YouTube Nonprofit Program can help.

Here’s more information on what the program offers, and examples of how nonprofits are benefiting from it.

What Is the YouTube Nonprofit Program?

YouTube for Nonprofits provides any qualified organization with free premium services, including donate buttons, call-to-action overlays, live-streaming, and goal tracking. It’s currently available in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia.

Before you can access the program, you must meet the Google for Nonprofits eligibility criteria. This includes holding current 501(c)(3) status. Organizations outside of the U.S., England, and Wales will need to review Google’s country-specific programs for nonprofits.

We should also note that governmental entities and organizations, hospitals and healthcare organizations, and schools or other educational institutions are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits. The latter group can, however, visit Google in Education for more resources.

How Nonprofits Benefit

As we mentioned above, the YouTube Nonprofits Program provides creators with a variety of premium features at no cost. This includes access to donate buttons, call-to-action overlays, production resources, and more. Here are a few examples of how these features helped philanthropic organizations find success on the platform.

Charity:water posted more than 240 personalized thank-you videos for its donors and campaigners. This made the audience the stars of the videos, creating a cycle of donors that were publicly acknowledged and highlighted. Taking time to celebrate milestones and acknowledge supporters should be an important element of a nonprofit’s social strategy. The organization also uses call-to-action overlays on videos to encourage viewers to support the cause through donations.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights used its YouTube Channel to live-stream “8,” a play about the Prop 8 trial in California on marriage equality. By utilizing the donate button on its channel, the initiative raised more than $2 million and drove a news cycle of approximately 300 articles. The donate button remains there today, subtly encouraging viewers to lend their financial support after watching one of the dozens of videos available. got really creative in delivering its message by creating an interactive “choose-your-own-adventure” style video. The organization used annotations in the video for its “Choose A Different Ending” campaign that let viewers decide what to do in a series of life or death decisions. It was intended to educate younger generations about the consequences of making the wrong decision. The series received nearly half a millions views.

These are just a few of the different ways nonprofits are utilizing the different tools available to them on YouTube. One thing that’s evident is that you don’t need expensive equipment and years of experience to tell a compelling story through video. You can learn more from nonprofits using the platform in the YouTube for Nonprofit Organizations Google+ Hangout. Additionally, we also recommend reading through the Playbook for Good, a valuable resource for nonprofits looking to benefit from and make the most out of YouTube.