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Online videos offer endless opportunities to non-profits

Mission in Motion

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1It was years into my role as Executive Director at a youth serving agency that it became crystal clear to me that helping people see could help them believe. Hands down, I encouraged board members to bring people in for tours, which often ended in an ask for an investment in our mission.

There is no argument that a story rich in description — sharing colors, smells, and sights — is gripping and engaging. There are countless opportunities for our beloved elevator speeches, and organization overviews, but there is no doubt, when you can provide someone the first hand look at the mission in motion, your sales pitch gets much easier.

This is the concept of Chapter 10 — “Got Video? (Video Sharing)” — in Lon Safko’s book, The Social Media Bible.

It is very easy nowadays to capture your “Mission in Motion” through various strategies. Consider utilizing some of these:

  • Client Testimonials
  • Board Member Orientation & Engagement
  • Donor Highlights
  • Organization Overview

It is sometimes difficult to get prospects for a tour or even to an event. So, why not utilize a short video via e-mail to share your mission and introduce them to your services? One of my favorite stories is a video that was made especially for a donor that highlighted a youth of the program thanking them for their investments.

How impactful!

Another great one was another youth agency that featured youth inviting guests to attend a benefit event through a short video invite.

Another great way to stand out to supporters!

Of course, the most simple online video is the simple case for support message like the one you see in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) video about stopping the ivory trade and supporting their efforts to save the elephant population. Click here or on the video below to check-out this example.

In addition to reading Lon Safko’s book, here are a few additional links you might find helpful in developing your agency’s “picture” to share with prospects and donors:

So how can you capture your mission to share your story best? How have you used video to engage donors or volunteers?
rose draft sig

How to start a successful non-profit YouTube channel

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. YouTube is for more than just cute cat videos. In fact, YouTube is home to web networks, political commentary, educational videos and . . . OK, maybe some of the most adorable cats you’ve ever seen. If your organization is not on YouTube you’re missing a great opportunity to reach a new audience. In today’s post, let’s look at how YouTube can be a great resource for a nonprofit in today’s social media savvy society.

Why YouTube?

Well, think about it. Have you looked at a YouTube video yet today? If not, I’m sure you’ll see one posted in your news feed on Facebook that will catch your eye. The point is that YouTube is a place people go to find videos that are about topics important to them. YouTube is a familiar site for people. When people think of videos on the internet, they think of YouTube.

YouTube has a built-in audience. Many people don’t just go to YouTube for one video, they will often find a video that was linked to their video that they find interesting and watch that one too.Why not use this familiarity, and automatic audience to your advantage and make sure your organization has a YouTube Channel?

YouTube Basics

Once you’ve decided that YouTube is a network for your organization, it’s really simple to get started. All you have to do is sign up. Every YouTube user is given a channel where she can upload videos. This channel’s name is customizable. You will want to make sure that your organization’s channel name is easy to remember and recognizable to your organization.

The background of your channel is also customizable. You can upload banner graphics and change the color scheme to match your agency’s logo.

Beyond the cosmetic changes, make sure you take the time to fully fill-out your YouTube profile. This not only lets people know what your channel is all about, but it also gives them other places on the web to go (e.g. your website, Facebook page, etc). Additionally, filling out the profile helps with the SEO of your channel, which will help Google point people in your direction when they search for you.

Subscribing to other channels also helps you build your YouTube community and can help your organization gain new subscribers. The channels to which you subscribe cannot be seen by others; however, when you like a video or add it to your favorites list this action will show up in your activity feed and users will be able to see that.

YouTube users also have the option of choosing a video that is shown on their channel’s page first. Make sure you choose this video wisely. While some channels make this their most recent video, others choose to make it a welcome video. You can changed this at any time, but make sure that the video that is displayed prominently on your channel is one you think is a good representation of your organization.

As is true with any social media site, remember that sharing is caring. So, share your content on all of your other social media networks.

Nonprofit YouTube Extras

Like many other Google products, YouTube has made resources available for nonprofits to help them achieve their goals. This includes YouTube’s Nonprofit Program.

Benefits of being accepted into this program include:

  • a donate now button on your channel’s page,
  • the ability to livestream on your channel, and
  • call to action overlays that pop-up on related videos for users to participate in.

These tools will help your organization succeed on the YouTube platform. Applying is easy. Your agency just needs a YouTube channel.

I hope this post has given you some insight on how to get started on YouTube. As for what type of content to include on your organization’s channel, that’s a post for another Monday.

Has your organization had success with YouTube? What did you find most helpful when setting up your channel? What did you find least helpful? Leave your tips in comments!

What non-profits can learn from a man skydiving at 128,000 feet

This week’s “Mondays with Marissa” post is going to be a little different. Something happened yesterday. Did you see it? Follow it? Of course, I am referring to a man by the named of Felix Baumgartner who jumped out of a capsule attached to a balloon 128,000 feet above Earth. Take a moment to think about that.

Beyond the pure awesomeness of this feat, what I want to draw your attention to today is:

  1. the social media that supported the mission, and
  2. some ways that non-profits learn from the coverage of this event.

For those of you unfamiliar with what Felix did yesterday, here’s a brief overview:

  • Sponsored by Red Bull, this mission had a goal of studying the effects of acceleration on the human body in order to produce better spacesuits for space professionals and eventually space tourists.
  • Beyond that, Felix Baumgartner became the first human who wasn’t attached to an aircraft to break the sound barrier .

NASA’s evolving mission has led to  private companies such as Red Bull stepping in to provide financing to make these types of missions possible. When the day came millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the live stream of the Red Bull Stratos leaving the Earth and eventually see Baumgartner jump out of it. You can read more about the story here.

Looking beyond the scientific significance of this event, let’s look at it through the eyes of a non-profit special events planner. When it comes down to it, that’s what it was, right? This was an event run at a specific time and for a specific cause.


This space mission was funded by Red Bull and everyone knew it. Finding a corporate sponsor, especially a title sponsor, to cover the costs of your agency’s special event means profitability and ensures that donations from attendees will likely go directly to support programming. Similarly, finding a corporate partner that will match donations helps in the same way.

Word of Mouth

People knew about this event for months. If you have a once in a lifetime special event in your organization’s future (e.g. celebrating a milestone anniversary, etc), letting people know about it early and often only helps your cause. You can and should use social media to do this. How?

  • Create an event on Facebook.
  • Create an event on Google Plus.
  • Post about the progress being made during the preparation of the event.

Give the Event Its Own Website

Depending on the size of the event, it might warrant its own website. Doing so will make it easy for people seeking details about your event to find those facts easily online.

Take a look at the website for the Red Bull Stratos. Everything you need to know about that event is there. Make sure that you include the social media sharing buttons on the website to allow people to share what they find with others.


One of the great things that Red Bull did during the preparation for this event was to post videos about the progress leading up to yesterday. If it makes sense to do so for your event, videos are a great way to update people. Make them short and sweet, little clips and people will share them with others. If you can’t post videos as often, photos can work in the same capacity as well.

In addition to posting video to promote your event, you can also post clips of the actual event if you were lucky enough to secure a celebrity to speak or the event was particularly noteworthy. Click here to view a YouTube video of Felix Baumgartner’s historic jump.

Live Stream It

Again, this depends on your event and the legality surrounding it, but if it makes sense then you may want to consider live streaming it.

For example, if you are holding a competition such as a race, live streaming can help spread the word about what is happening and allow people to donate on the web during the event.

Sites such as YouTube and UStream allow users to set up their own channels to share with others. The videos from these channels can be embedded on your own site so you don’t have to send viewers somewhere else. Also, all of the live streams can be saved for future viewing as well.


While we were watching Felix jump out of his capsule at 128,000 feet above the Earth, many of us were participating in a social conversation on Twitter about what we are seeing as it happened. Creating a hashtag for your event can allow people to share news from your event in real-time. What’s great is that you can also use it to go back and easily see what people were saying after the event is over. For example, take a look at #livejump from yesterday.

Events like yesterday’s only come around once in a while. It is important to step back and see what we can learn from them when they do. I hope today’s post might have highlighted some new techniques for you when it comes to running special events.

Have you used any of the tools mentioned in today’s post? I’d love to hear about it in comments!

How Podcasts Can Spice Up a Nonprofit’s Social Media Plan

Named after the mp3 player that changed the world – the iPod – podcasts have become a big business when it comes to social media. In fact, there are entire networks dedicated to producing audio and video content for people to enjoy.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this media format, a podcast defined as: A multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting

How can podcasts fit into your agencies social media plan? Let’s take a look.

Why Podcasts
What makes podcasting attractive to a person visiting your site is that it is a different type of media to consume. Blogs and photos are good, but sometimes more can be said through and audio interview or short video. People like variety and providing podcasts, gives a website visitor an opportunity to choose how they will receive their information. Furthermore, by consistently publishing podcasts, you can build an audience that follows your organization on a regular basis as opposed to just checking in from time to time.

What to Podcast
Really the topics for podcasts are pretty endless; but choosing the right ones will allow you to use the features of the format in the best way possible. Here are a few ideas of what you can podcast about:

  • Interviewing Board Members – let people know who they are and why they are involved in your organization
  • Special Event Planning – in the weeks before an event, showing people the progress that is being made can help hype up the event
  • Discuss Issues Surrounding Your Mission – remind people why your mission is so important. Discuss things that are happening in the news that impact your progress in fulfilling it.
  • Volunteer Spotlight – interview a select volunteer, highlight their work and show people why volunteering for your organization is worthwhile.

The nice thing about producing podcasts is that there is no standard length requirement. Your podcast can be anywhere from five minutes to more than two hours in length. This can allow you to have a focused podcasts on just one subject or include a variety of topics.

How to Podcast
Well the good news is, you don’t really need much to get started. As your content grows, you may need more sophisticated equipment, but to get things going you really just need a computer and a microphone. There is free software called audacity that

English: This icon, known as the

will record and edit audio recordings. If you are looking to get into video podcasting, you will need a video camera that shoots in high definition and video editing software. Most computers come with a program already included such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.

For a more detailed look at how to get started, check out this Digital Trends article.

Sharing Your Podcast
One of the easiest ways to get your podcast seen or heard by the masses is to publish it on iTunes. Lots of people use iTunes as their media manager and it makes finding podcasts easy. Also, by publishing to iTunes, you can use their RSS feed and post it on your website so that people can see the latest episodes there as well. If you decide to make video podcasts, I suggest publishing episodes to your YouTube channel as well.

Podcasts are a different form of media and will take time to develop. However, if you have the resources to create one, it is a great way to offer different content to your organization’s audience. By providing yet another way for people to be informed about what is going on in your agency, you can gain exposure to a whole new group of people.

Has your organization tried podcasting before? Have any tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Non-profit lessons from the Middle East

On Tuesday, I joined the Fox West Philanthropic Network and attended my first meeting in Geneva, Illinois. The program that day focused on social media and the value it brings to non-profit organizations as a marketing tool. While no one openly expressed doubts about the premise of the presentation, I could almost hear some of the more “old school fundraising professionals”  questioning the effectiveness of “this social media thing“.

On Wednesday morning, I learned (via Twitter) that the United States’ embassies in Egypt and Libya were under siege and American foreign service employees had been killed. This morning protests and violence seem to be spreading. After a quick Google search, I learned from a Washington Post article that the embassy in Yemen had been breached, and protests are now occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Where is this all coming from? Why are so many people angry? According to the Washington Post:

The spreading violence comes as outrage grows over a movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that mocked Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The amateurish video was produced in the U.S. and excerpted on YouTube.”

You read that right . . . a crappy little YouTube video produced in California provoked action (aka mass violence and death) half way around the world.

For those of you who still think that this “social media thing” is a passing fad and holds little to no value for non-profit organization, I direct your attention to the Middle East and ask that you please re-think your position on these very powerful communication tools.

I believe there are a number of lessons to be learned and conclusions to be drawn about social media from recent events emanating from the other side of the planet. The following are just a few revelations I’ve recently had:

  1. Facebook and Twitter were used as powerful tools of revolution that fueled the “Arab Spring”. If these tools can fuel a revolution and overthrow powerful dictators, then these tools can be useful to non-profit organizations who wish to communicate with clients, supporters, volunteers, staff and donors.
  2. YouTube is especially powerful because it visual in nature. If one YouTube video can cause this much action half way around the world, then your agency can figure out how to introduce people to your mission and engage them in doing good.
  3. These new communication technologies are powerful and shouldn’t be misused because the consequences can be huge and unforeseeable. If you don’t know about The Butterfly Effect, then I suggest you read up on it before developing any social media strategy.
  4. Oh yeah . . . you probably should steer clear of anything to do with the Prophet Muhammad when it comes to your social media strategy.

Developing your organization’s social media strategy will not be easy. What works for the agency down the street from you, won’t necessarily work for you. I encourage you be brave and commit to experimenting. Those things that don’t feel right or don’t work . . . don’t do them again. Don’t be reckless (please see observation #4 above), but commit yourself to learning and be prepared to celebrate failure.

The following YouTube video washed into my email inbox just a few weeks ago from a small non-profit agency in Wheaton, Illinois called Senior Home Sharing:

There are a lot of things I would’ve done differently, but you have to applaud this organization for what they are trying to accomplish and message to potential clients, supporters, and donors.

The following are a few resources you may want to investigate if recent Middle East events have changed your mind about your non-profit organization’s approach to social media:

Good luck, and you may want to go back an re-read my list of observations and keep in the back of your mind my fourth observation as you proceed.

How does your agency use YouTube? Has it been effective? How do you know? Do you have a written social media plan? Policies? Are you willing to share those things with other non-profit professionals? Please scroll down to the comment box and take a moment to share your thoughts, experiences, and answers to one or more of these questions. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Answers to the two most popular social media questions asked by non-profits

At the end of yesterday’s post titled “Are non-profits yelling at their donors using social media?” I promised that I’d share a few revelations from a social media conference that Marissa and I attended last week hosted by SkillPath Seminars. Today, we’re talking about two of the most popular social media questions that I’ve been asked by non-profit organizations:

  1. Which social media platforms should your non-profit organization use to speak to donors and supporters?
  2. How can your agency do a better job at engaging its supporters using social media and gain more traction?

Let me first say that I highly recommend this SkillPath training conference to all non-profit professionals who are responsible for managing their agency’s social media communities. You can find more information at the other end of the link that provided above. (No, I was not paid to say this)

When looking through the conference materials on this subject, they list more than 20 different platforms that companies are using to market their efforts. However, it came as no surprise that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were the top three “networking platforms;” YouTube was the most popular “promotional platform;” and various blogging platforms (e.g. WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr) were the most popular “sharing platforms”.

Our trainers suggested that a company should give serious consideration to developing a presence on all three platforms and five sites. While that might sound easy enough, it becomes more complicated when you consider that you’ll be saying different things in each of these places. You need to figure out who your target audiences are and which social media platforms are best at communicating with them.

As I sat through many of the sessions, I found myself trying to translate the training curricula into non-profit speak. Assuming that my universal translator is working well, I concluded the following:

  • Facebook looks like a great stewardship tool where you can engage donors and show your “friends” how their contribution is being put to good use.
  • Twitter and its 140 character limitations could be an awesome cultivation tool where you catch the attention of prospects and drive them to a place where they learn more about your mission.
  • LinkedIn is more than a human resource tool. It is a place to build relationships with potential corporate supporters and identify special event sponsors.
  • YouTube can be a multi-purpose resource development tool and used in many different ways. However, it might be best used for raising brand awareness and developing a pool of interested prospects who you are positioning for cultivation activities.
  • Your blog is a friendly online place to engage in conversations with supporters and potential supporters. You can establish yourself as a “thought leader,” advocate and engaged listener.
  • All of these social media tools should be used to drive traffic to your website where there is more information, volunteer forms, donation pages, etc.

Yes, this is a lot of work and at some point you’ll need to frame your agency’s strategy in a written social media plan. While it is easy to think that it might end up on the fundraising department’s plate, I think there is an opportunity for thoughtful organizations to transform their agency into a “social company” and share the workload and transform your workplace culture.

Enough on platforms.

What about building momentum? Gaining traction? Engaging more deeply?

The following are just a few of the suggestions offered by our SkillPath trainers:

  • Write content that is interesting to your reader. (If you don’t know what that is, then go ask them)
  • Host contests
  • Offer coupons
  • Make your content interactive
  • Include links to things that your audience will find interesting and useful

Perhaps, one of the best ideas I heard was that a picture is worth a thousand words. Write less and post more pictures of your mission, your programs, your volunteers, and your donors. This one simple idea that will probably result in increased traffic, more content sharing, and deeper engagement.

Is your agency using social media? How’s it going? Do you feel like it is working? Why or why not? Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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