We look at how charities can use YouTube as more than just a place to store videos
The most active user demographic in the UK is 25–44-year-olds, with the split between male and female users standing at roughly 50/50. In an average month, eight out of ten 18–49-year-olds will use YouTube.
Google quickly saw YouTube’s potential as a rival search engine and purchased it in 2006. In fact, Google itself markets YouTube as the world’s second-largest search engine. Users search the channel for instructional ‘how-to’ videos and answers to their questions.
YouTube is also home to a community of creators, often with massive followings, who produce regular shows and live content for their followers. The channel understands that it is the creator’s content that audiences come back for again and again.
Seven in ten viewers watch on their phone which helps to create an intimate connection between a creator and their audience. YouTube now pays creators 55% of the ad revenue generated by their content.
Charities can use YouTube to reach new audiences, educate and share expertise, and collaborate with creators to raise awareness and funds.
How you present the content on your YouTube channel is so important and will help to grow your subscribers.
Use your YouTube real estate wisely! You have one 2,560 x 1,440 banner to play with. The charities really making this count are using their banner to encourage viewers to subscribe – RSPCA’s channel banner, for example, announces that there will be “new videos every Friday”.
You can also choose to have a ‘featured video’ that appears at the top of your channel homepage. Amnesty International UK have used their ‘featured’ spot to share a video with moments of hope from the dark days of 2020.
The rest of your content can be organised into playlists which are shown in vertical rows across your homepage. Using a template thumbnail for the cover of each video in a playlist will help with the visual appeal of your channel and encourage curious visitors to get clicking.
You should be able to reach most of your target audiences via YouTube as the user base is huge. So the trick is to create content that works well with how they use the channel.
Educational content is extremely important across all types of social media. As experts in your field, you can help educate your audience about your area of work by creating content to answer their questions.
You could ask your Supporter Care Team to tell you the questions they are asked a lot and create videos to answer them, featuring your experts. Or perhaps you feel your audience would benefit from content to help them understand an issue that is in the headlines – the history of a conflict or the story of your impact on a particular issue.
Do you have an aspiring creator in your team? An expert who could present a regular live show to answer questions or someone who could host a weekly ‘behind the scenes’ feature? ‘Funny animals’ is one of the most popular topics for content on YouTube – animal charities we’re looking at you!
If you want to invest in YouTube as a channel, it’s important to try and create some content specifically for it.
According to Think with Google: “Of the 100 most popular YouTube live streams, in terms of greatest number of peak concurrent viewers, over 60 happened in the past two years.” Live content has been increasingly important while live entertainment has been all but cancelled.
YouTube is actively focussed on getting more views via TVs for both live and pre-recorded content, which could give charities a more affordable path to reach TV audiences.
In 2020, London-based creator jacksepticeye (Seán McLoughlin) raised almost $659,000 (£475,000 approx) for a collection of global health and international development non-profits during a 12-hour livestream on World Health Day as part of the #HopeFromHome appeal.
YouTube Giving is currently only available to creators with 10,000 or more subscribers, based in the UK, US, and Canada and part of the YouTube partner programme.
They can only choose to fundraise for non-profits registered in the US at present, but this may be expanded to include other regions.
If you are a UK-based charity, collaborating with creators can also support the growth of your subscriber base.
Building a great partnership means thinking about whether the creator’s audience is likely to be interested in your work, developing a relationship with the creator and designing a mutually beneficial collaboration.