Getting Started with YouTube for Nonprofits in 3 Steps

Getting Started with YouTube for Nonprofits in 3 Steps

As of 2023, a record 91% of businesses use video as one of their marketing tools. Of the marketing professionals who don’t use video as part of their strategy, 18% shared that they weren’t sure how to get started. If your nonprofit is part of that 18%, then a good place to start is gaining a better understanding of the most ubiquitous video hosting platform on the internet: YouTube.

Founded in 2005, YouTube is one of the most visited sites on the internet, second only to Google, YouTube’s parent company. While there are other options for hosting and promoting video, most nonprofits rely on YouTube thanks to its large audience, intuitive interface, and nonprofit-friendly program, YouTube for Nonprofits. 

To get your organization started with YouTube for Nonprofits, this guide will explore the basics of this marketing opportunity and how to make successful videos:

As you learn about YouTube for Nonprofits, talk with your marketing team, especially those who already have experience with video and YouTube. Work with them to brainstorm video ideas and determine what production scale would be possible based on your nonprofit’s resources. Then, when your nonprofit is approved and ready to start posting on YouTube, your marketing team can get straight to work supporting your digital fundraising campaigns with videos

Discover how YouTube for Nonprofits and the Google Ad Grant can boost your online presence. Get a free consultation!

What is YouTube for Nonprofits?

YouTube for Nonprofits is Google’s program for nonprofits looking to fundraise on YouTube. While almost anyone can use YouTube to generate revenue after earning a certain number of subscribers, YouTube for Nonprofits gives 501(c)(3) organizations a headstart with the following features: 

  • Link directly to your site from videos. Use YouTube’s Link Anywhere cards to add a small pop-up at the top of your video that links to any external page, including your nonprofit’s website and donation page. 
  • Optimize your content. YouTube offers nonprofits guidance for how to make videos that will succeed on their platform with their social impact fundamentals, which we will discuss later, and tutorials on the YouTube Creator Academy.
  • Access dedicated technical support. As a YouTube Nonprofit Program partner, you can get faster access to YouTube technical support if you encounter any challenges setting up your channel.

Essentially, YouTube for Nonprofits will allow your organization to more effectively create videos and fundraise through the YouTube platform. But first, your organization must sign up for a Google for Nonprofits account. 

How to Set Up Your YouTube for Nonprofits Account

Joining YouTube for Nonprofits is relatively easy, especially if your nonprofit already has a Google for Nonprofits account and a YouTube channel. If you don’t, just follow these steps:

Sign up for Google for Nonprofits.

Google for Nonprofits is a program that provides eligible charitable organizations with access to premium Google products and services, including Workspace, Ad Grants, and YouTube for Nonprofits.

Here is a complete list of all products and features organizations using Google for Nonprofits can access:

Gain access to these products and the Google Ad Grants application through Google for Nonprofits.

To join Google for Nonprofits, first check if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be registered as a nonprofit in a country where Google for Nonprofits is available.
  • Agree to Google for Nonprofit’s terms of service.
  • Not be a government organization, hospital or healthcare organization, or school or educational institution 

From there, request a Google for Nonprofits account. Just click “Get started,” and the system will walk you through the necessary steps. After that, their validation partners, TechSoup and Percent, may reach out to you if they have any questions or need additional documentation. Then, in 2-14 business days, you should receive verification.

Google Ad Grants

In addition to YouTube for Nonprofits, signing up for Google for Nonprofits is the first step toward applying for the Google Ad Grant. Google Ad Grants are monthly allocations of $10,000 that Google gives to nonprofits to run keyword ad campaigns. 

Google Ads appear at the top of the search results page for related keywords, improving the chances that page visitors will see and click on the link. Nonprofits can use Google Ad Grants to promote almost any marketing campaign they have, including:

  • Attracting donors
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Advertising services to constituents 
  • Spreading awareness of their cause
  • Promoting an ongoing campaign

Applying for the Google Ad Grant does require an additional step of ensuring that your website is considered high-quality and ready for promotion. Ensure your website is optimized by implementing security measures, creating a user-friendly experience, and populating your site with valuable content.

Create a YouTube channel.

To activate your account, you’ll need your YouTube channel ID. Here’s how to find your channel ID or create a channel for your nonprofit if it doesn’t already have one:

  • To find your channel ID, sign into your nonprofit’s YouTube account, and click on your profile picture. Select “settings,” then “advanced settings.” Your channel ID will be displayed there. 
  • To create a channel, log in to your nonprofit’s Google Account, and determine if your nonprofit uses a personal or Brand Account. If you are using a personal channel, you can simply sign in to YouTube, click your profile picture, and choose to create a channel. For a Brand Account, go to your account settings and select the Brand Account from the list. Fill out the necessary details, and click “Create.”

If you ever need to change the YouTube channel associated with YouTube for Nonprofits, log into Google for Nonprofits, navigate to YouTube for Nonprofits, and select “Change channel ID.”

Sign in to Google for Nonprofits and click “Get Started.”

The last step is to sign into Google for Nonprofits. Under “YouTube for Nonprofits,” will be a “Get Started” button you can click to activate your account. You will need to complete a few steps, such as providing your YouTube channel ID.

From there, Google will review your application in approximately three business days before sending an email confirming your account has been activated. You can then start using all of YouTube for Nonprofit’s features. 

YouTube for Nonprofit’s Social Impact Fundamentals 

YouTube shares the following philosophy toward social impact on their site: 

From the beginning, we’ve always believed in the power of video storytelling to make a difference. It helps us feel deeply connected to a cause and empowered with the knowledge to take action on issues we care about. YouTube is the place you can find an audience, join a community, and create impact, both online and off. People and organizations who are committed to driving positive social change belong here.

As part of this philosophy, YouTube promotes five fundamentals they believe nonprofits can achieve and leverage to make a social impact:

YouTube for Nonprofits has five principles for social impact organizations: shareability, discoverability, consistency, community, and sustainability.

  • Shareability. Create videos that your supporters will want to pass along to a friend or family member after watching. This can be accomplished through creating video content that’s relatable, relevant to ongoing trending topics, or prompts engagement by asking compelling questions. 
  • Discoverability. There are many tips about creating content that plays to YouTube’s algorithm but the most reliable strategy for getting discovered is making high-quality content that is relevant to your audience’s interests. Use an attractive thumbnail and an attention-grabbing title as well as relevant tags to increase your chances of being discovered through manual searches. 
  • Consistency. One of YouTube’s biggest strengths is its ability to help video creators build sustainable communities. To cultivate a support base, establish a consistent posting schedule, and ensure your videos always have a cohesive brand identity and cover topics your supporters are interested in. How often you post is up to you, but aim for at least once a week when getting started. 
  • Community. Encourage your current supporters to check out your YouTube channel to start building a new community. As new supporters find your content, respond to their comments, engage them with polls using the community tab feature, and like positive and thoughtful comments to encourage engagement.
  • Sustainability. Consistently creating video content can lead to burnout. Ensure you set a sustainable pace for your team and help them come up with new ideas to make sure you always have fresh content. 

Your YouTube channel doesn’t need to become a viral sensation for it to help your cause. Whether you aim to cultivate a new base of support on YouTube or are just interested in using the platform to host a few professional videos, these fundamentals can help you cultivate a positive experience that can translate into donations for your cause. 

Video Creation Tips

Nonprofits interested in video content have two options: create videos internally or hire an external video production company. Some video production companies have specific services for nonprofits that may be more moderately priced. However, video production is still expensive, and many nonprofits may prefer to at least make shorter and less formal videos internally. 

Whether you decide to have your team make videos or want to be informed about the video creation process when working with a production company, here are a few tips about developing nonprofit videos:

Must-Have Equipment 

Like any type of digital marketing content, videos need the right software and equipment to develop. Professional video production companies will likely use tools that are far more advanced than the average nonprofit’s needs. If you only wish to make casual YouTube Shorts style content, a basic camera and free editing software may even satisfy your needs. 

However, if you want to create slightly more complex videos, you’ll need to research video production equipment and weigh the costs against your marketing budget. At the very least, you’ll need:

To create successful videos as part of your YouTube for Nonprofits engagement, you'll need the following equipment listed below.

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Audio equipment
  • Lighting equipment 
  • Editing software

For more specific information about different types of cameras, microphones, and other equipment, YouTube itself is full of videos that offer tutorials on everything from how to set up your lighting to the effect different types of camera lenses will have on your videos.

Emotional Impact

With its ability to showcase sounds and visuals together, video is an especially effective medium for conveying emotion. For example, nonprofit video production company Tectonic Video created this emotional video for Mutual Rescue, a nonprofit dedicated to helping animals find their forever homes:


This video uses a combination of interviews, home movies, animated footage, and carefully framed close-ups to help viewers connect with their cause. The music also transitions from upbeat to create a positive atmosphere as viewers get to know the family before switching to a more melancholy track to reinforce the more challenging emotions they experienced.

Videos that get viewers to empathize with their cause are more likely to be shared and earn support. In your own videos, consider how you can tell stories that encourage your audience to root for those who have a connection with your cause. Then, use music cues and footage to evoke emotions that will make supporters want to take action.

Visual Identity 

Building a following on YouTube requires building a brand. Do you want viewers to think of your organization as inspirational? Relatable and familiar? Cutting-edge and professional? Think about your current brand identity and how you can translate it to video.

For example, one nonprofit might make an effort to only feature footage of their beneficiaries rather than their staff and volunteers to emphasize their commitment to elevating and empowering beneficiaries. By contrast, another organization may use an animated style to humanize concepts like water cycles or less-than-cute creatures like insects. 

Additionally, ensure your organization’s name and logo are featured in your video, so if the video gets shared on a different site, supporters can find their way back to your nonprofit.


After watching your video, what action do you want your supporters to take? On YouTube, it’s become a cliche for videos to begin by asking viewers to “Like, comment, and subscribe,” and nonprofits have even more actions they might request for supporters, such as sharing, donating, or volunteering. 

However, asking viewers to take multiple actions, especially if they’re listed quickly in a row, can easily become white noise. For viewers who watch a lot of online content, ignoring multiple calls to action can become a habit. 

Ensure your calls to action stand out by asking supporters to take just one specific action in your videos.

Use YouTube for Nonprofit's Link Anywhere cards to improve your calls to action.

When creating your videos, consider how they fit into your overall marketing strategy. For example, for a video that tells an emotional story, you might ask supporters to donate. Or, you might create educational videos for an awareness campaign and ask viewers to “like” them, which boosts engagement and increases the likelihood that they will be recommended to others. 

Launch Your YouTube Channel

Whether you just need a platform to host video content or are looking to build an entirely new following, YouTube is the channel for sharing inspiring content and connecting with supporters through video.

Of course, video is just one part of your marketing campaign, and the rest of your advertising strategy is instrumental in helping your videos find their audience. Learn more about nonprofit marketing and promote your videos with these resources:

Boost traffic to your videos with Google Ad Grants. Nonprofits eligible for YouTube for Nonprofits can also be eligible for the Google Ad Grant. Get in touch with our consultants to learn more. Get a consultation!