You Too Can YouTube

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You probably think YouTube is a place for people to promote themselves – a la the recently featured video on the home page, “Me singing Original Song ‘i don’t need you’ ” – but more youth-serving organizations are promoting themselves through the site’s free services for nonprofits.

“YouTube … really brings to life the work that nonprofits are doing,” says Kathy DeMeij, director of marketing for The Children’s Aid Society in New York.

DeMeij realized the potential of YouTube when a music video for rapper Jason Fox that had been filmed at a Children’s Aid center got almost 1.5 million hits. The video showed the organization’s name only for a split-second, but DeMeij recalls thinking, “Geez, we need to tap into this.”

So Children’s Aid created its own channel in May, and posted several promotional videos.

Showing their stuff on YouTube:

Images from Youth Noise, Girls Inc., The Children’s Aid Society and A Place Called Home.

Youth Noise, another nonprofit with its own YouTube channel, reports that one of its videos received almost 180,000 views in 10 months. The 90-second video discusses a contest sponsored by Youth Noise and designed to get people to submit their ideas about the best way to combat youth homelessness.

At YouTube, an organization can create a channel that allows visitors to find the organization’s content more quickly through the site’s search function. Channels typically cost money to establish, but last year YouTube launched a channel for nonprofit groups that is free to manage and allows groups to collect donations with no processing costs. YouTube also rotates videos from nonprofit channels in “Promoted Videos” areas throughout the site and gives the organizations more uploading capacity than other users.

To get started, go to and click on “Sign Up.” The website will guide you through a template that will format the page in a design of your choosing. Uploading videos is a one-step process, and YouTube takes care of the rest.

To qualify, the organization must be a U.S.-based nonprofit with 501(c)(3) federal tax status, may not be religious or political in nature, and may not be focused primarily on lobbying for political or policy change.