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How To Start A YouTube Channel For A Nonprofit

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Setting up a YouTube channel for your nonprofit can be an effective strategy for giving your nonprofit a face and literally showing people what you do and its impact.

It can also create a lot of awareness for your cause and even generate revenue for your nonprofit by participating in the YouTube Partner Program as well as collecting donations through your channel.

Contents

Select A Niche

The first point to make here is that you should focus on one niche.

You know that the YouTube algorithm is focused on encouraging people to continue consuming more content on YouTube.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to suggest content that is similar to the content that a user just consumed.

If a user just watched one of your videos and enjoyed it then there’s a high likelihood that they will want to watch more videos from you.

If your content is all about one topic the algorithm is more likely to suggest more of your content to the user and the user is more likely to consume that content.

If your content is not about one topic then the algorithm is less likely to suggest more of your content to the user and, even if it did, the user is less likely to consume that content. 

So the best way to deal with this is to make sure that all of your content relates to one topic.

This is especially important when you start because the people that consume your content have no personal interest in you or your brand.

They just want the information (or entertainment).

You can expand into other niches after growing a larger audience that likes to consume your content because they’re interested in what you personally have to say and not just getting information.

Channel Name

If you have already worked through the branding sections of this course you should already have your name, domain name, and social media user names so you just need to use the same name for your YouTube in order to keep everything consistent.

If you don’t have a name for your nonprofit, read my article about Branding.

It would be helpful if you included an important keyword in your channel name because it helps the algorithm understand what your channel is about but don’t spend much time on this because the algorithm can figure out what your channel is about from your about section and the content of your videos.

Channel Art

The most important messages to communicate with your channel art are:

  • This channel is about [whatever it is]
  • This is why you should subscribe to my channel.

About Section

People that watch your videos and want to find out more about you will often not want to leave the platform they’re using. This is why the about section can be important.

If someone has gone to the trouble of reading your About section they must be very in interested you or your business so make sure you include a clear paragraph that says something like:

  • This channel is about…
  • This is what you will learn/enjoy
  • We focus on [your cause].
  • We provide the following products/services (if applicable). Check our website to learn more.

Include any important keywords for your niche or industry.

Verify

There are some features that are only available to YouTube accounts that have been verified. The most important one of these features is the ability to add custom thumbnails.

So, go ahead and follow the steps in the dashboard and get verified as soon as possible.

Content That Has A Purpose

If you’re creating a YouTube channel to use as part of a broader marketing strategy to collect donations, create awareness or sell your products or services it’s important to focus on making content that naturally leads to this result.

The typical structure of this type of content is to outline a problem and a solution and use your product or service as an example of the solution. For example, Gender inequality is a problem, and our courses for middle management about how to fix it are the solution. 

Video Content Production

Length: The important point to make about the length of the video is that it should be as long or as short as it needs to be to give the user what they want.

For example, if somebody searches for a video about how to set up a complete eCommerce website from scratch, the user is expecting a video that could be one hour long.

If the user is searching for how to copy and paste on a Mac they’re expecting a video that will be only one minute long.  

Frequency: YouTube has confirmed that they do not favor channels that post videos more frequently but there is still a major advantage to posting more frequently.

When you’re building a new channel you will not be generating many views from existing subscribers or suggested videos. Most of your views will come from appearing in the search results.

The more videos you create and publish the more videos will appear in the search results and the more views you will get.

But that doesn’t mean you should create a large number of low-quality videos. You should always be looking for the optimal combination of quality and quantity.

Video quality: Not surprisingly, high quality is better than low-quality video.

However, people that are searching for information can be tolerant of low-quality video (as long as the audio is good) because they’re focused on getting the information.

This means that you can get away with using your phone as a camera for your YouTube videos. Using an advanced camera with lighting involves a steep learning curve.

If you’re passionate about making videos then go ahead and start learning.

You can start with your phone and transition into more advanced production when you can afford the equipment and have learned how to use it.

Audio Quality:  Even though YouTube is a video medium, users are not very tolerant of bad audio.

Most successful YouTubers will tell you that audio is more important than video.

The simple summary is that you can get away with using your phone as a camera for your YouTube videos but you cannot get away with using the mic in your phone.

You should search YouTube or Google for the “best mic for YouTube videos”  and select the one that is the best fit for your needs and budget.

Editing Quality: You can just upload videos without editing or you can spend an infinite amount of time on fancy editing.

Think about your audience and what they really want. If they just want information, focus on providing the best, most helpful information possible with minimal editing.

If they’re looking for entertainment, then use editing as a way to ramp up the entertainment factor but avoid falling into the trap of making everything perfect.

Always remember that YouTube requires a combination of quality and quantity.

Video Optimization

Title: YouTube has confirmed that the title is the most important factor that determines when and where your videos will be displayed.

Make sure your title includes the most important keyword and try to add something that distinguishes it from other videos about the same topic.

Thumbnail: The thumbnail is as important as the title. You know from your own searching on YouTube or scrolling through a feed on social media that images capture your attention.

Do a search on YouTube for videos about your topic and create a thumbnail that will stand out among those videos.

You can get templates from design tools like Canva and Picmonkey.

Description: The description provides information about what the video is about.

Most people just start watching a video to see whether they like it rather than reading the description first so the content in the description is mostly for helping the algorithm understand what your video is about.

The algorithm can also figure out what your video is about by converting the audio in the video into words so don’t spend too much time on the description.

The description can also be used to include links to your website, affiliate links, social channels, or whatever you want people to do after watching your video. 

Tags: Tags are not as important as they used to be.

They exist to help the algorithm understand what your video is about but the algorithm can get that information from your title, description, and the content in the video so go ahead and include the major keywords and spend more time on your content, title, and thumbnail.

Watch-time: The reason that watch-time matters is that it is the best indicator of whether people are enjoying your content.

The more you enjoy the content, the more you will watch and the more likely it is that you will click on an ad. So how do you increase watch-time?

It starts with creating high-quality content but you can also structure your content in a way that optimizes watch time:

Tell viewers why they should watch the video at the start of the video.

  • Why is this information so important?
  • Why is it so compelling?
  • Why will this be so entertaining?

Tell viewers what you will be covering in the video.

If you provide a list of compelling sub-topics then people will be more likely to want to continue watching even they lose interest in one of the sub-topics for a minute because they know that the video will eventually cover more interesting
subtopics.

YouTube Shorts

In order to compete with TikTok YouTube has released a new short-form video format that it calls YouTube shorts.

These videos must be between 15 and 60 seconds long, must be shot with a vertical aspect ratio, and include #Shorts in the title or description.

I don’t want to spend too much time talking about YouTube shorts but the reason I want to you know about them is that they are new and all of the algorithms of all of the major platforms favor people that use new features because they obviously want to promote them. 

If you’re starting a new channel, you should consider creating some short videos as a way to promote your channel.

A simple way to do this is to create a preview video – create videos that include one tip about how to do something then direct people to the long-form video to get more information.

The Algorithm

YouTube is part of Google so you know the algorithm is complex but there are two factors that effectively summarize the algorithm.

They  are ‘click through rate’ (“CTR”) and ‘watch time’ (“WT”).

The CTR is the percentage of people that see your video appearing in the search results (or in the suggested videos column) and decide to click on it.

The CTR is heavily influenced by your title and thumbnail.

The WT is the number of minutes a user spends watching your video (and the percentage of the video).

The higher the CTR and WT, the more the algorithm will display your video in front of more people.

A CTR higher than 2% and a WT higher than 50% are considered to be excellent.

Analytics. YouTube provides some very helpful analytics including your CTR and WT. Of course, the data will not be very useful until after you’ve generated a certain amount of views and engagement. 

Monetization

Adsense: You can monetize YouTube videos with the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) which runs ads over your videos but you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours (in the last 12 months) in order to qualify.

Other revenue: You don’t have to wait until you qualify for the YPP to monetize your videos.

You have complete control of the video content and the links in the description so you can mention any of your own products or services or any affiliate product or service in the video content and provide links to them in the description.

In most cases, this is also a better way to monetize your channel because you control everything.

Of course, if your objective is to create a big YouTube channel where you focus on creating videos rather than creating products or services…

And want to use a passive monetization method – then you need to focus on creating as many high-quality videos as can as soon as you can and start building subscribers and watch time in order to qualify for the YPP.  

Editor

Editor

This article was created by the team an IIMAGINE. Create a free account to get alerts about new articles and get access to multiple tools and strategies for growing your nonprofit and maximizing your impact.

About IIMAGINE

IIMAGINE is a platform for people that want to maximize their impact.

Create awareness, crowdsource ideas to solve problems, sign petitions, provide funding or donations to projects and causes that matter to you. Support direct democracy. Connect with like-minded people – without cold contacting anyone.

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