The Rise Of The YouTube Channel
With the millions of choices of things to watch and the limited amount of time we have in today’s digital world, it’s no surprise that more people are turning to online video, rather than television, for entertainment, enrichment, and inspiration. After all, why let networks dictate what you watch, when you can choose to watch exactly what you like online?
Now that YouTube Channels are slowly taking the place of the television channel, it’s become more easy than ever before for changemakers like us to put our message in front of more people. No need to woo the gatekeepers, or pay thousands of dollars in advertising dollars. No need to compete with the big boys with big resources for airtime that’s limited.
Your videos, once uploaded can continue to be seen even years down the road. This is the golden opportunity for non-profits and social entrepreneurs to claim our free spots online, and get our stories and messages in front of the millions of people on YouTube.
5 Prime Examples of YouTube Channels Doing Good
But how, you ask? One of the best ways to learn how is to study the masters.
Here are some of the top examples of changemakers using YouTube Channels well that I’ve seen.
1. Charity: Water
About Charity: Water
It’s a great site that makes it easy for people from all around the world to raise funds to provide clean drinking water to those who don’t have access to it. Started with the simple idea of Founder and CEO Scott Harrison giving up his September birthday and asking for donations instead of presents.
Since then, the movement has grown beyond September birthdays. It’s grown to include people raising money through other ways like running, swimming, walking or dancing. Almost 48,000 pledges later, Charity: Water has, to date, raised enough funds to run almost 10,000 water projects in 20 countries.
Charity: Water Videos
I’ve found Charity: Water to be one of the best examples of an organisation’s story told well. Their videos cover everything from putting a human face on the organisation, showing the public where their money goes and how it impacts lives, to connecting directly with their audience.
I really liked this one in particular, The Road That Changed Everything, because it tells a beautiful and joyful story of community coming together. No words used, or necessary, because the look of pure bliss on the faces of the villagers as they got access to clean water for the first time just said it all. All too often, cause videos paint gloomy, sad pictures of people in need. You’ll see none of that here, and find that it inspires you to support the cause even more!
My other top favourites include:
- Sep 2009 Campaign – Founder Scott Harrison talking passionately about how much they’ve grown, and making the call for September babies to band together once again.
- Rachel Beckwith’s Last Wish – The moving story of 9 year-old Rachel who was killed in a car accident, and how her page ended up raising over $1.2 million. Rachel’s mom and her grandparents were invited to meet some of the 37,700 people in Ethiopia that Rachel helped.
- Charity: Water Thank You – For their 5th year anniversary, Charity: Water’s team made individual “thank you” videos for everyone who helped raise money. Imagine how 6 year old Mackenzie must have felt hearing a personalised message from the founder Scott Harrison himself, thanking him for giving up his birthday, aiming to raise $300. He surpassed his goal by more than 3x!
2. It Gets Better Project
About the It Gets Better Project
Started in response to the alarming number of students who were taking their own lives as a result of being bullied in school, the It Gets Better Project creates a personal way for supporters from all around the world to tell LGBT youth that it does indeed get better as you grow older.
It Gets Better Project Videos
The result so far? Nothing short of a remarkable outpouring of support from every community group you imagine. You’ll find thousands of videos uploaded by people, both lgbt and not, from groups like military service members and veterans, medical communities, law organisations, various continents in the world, corporations, governmental organisations, colleges and more.
This is global participation and engagement at its best, spread far beyond just the campaign’s YouTube Channel, all sparked by the simple idea of bringing hope and inspiring change. My top favourites include:
- Joel Burns Tells Teens It Gets Better – Very emotional and touching piece. Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns reaches out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope at a City Council meeting.
- “It Gets Better” Broadway Sings for The Trevor Project – With a feel similar to that of ‘We Are The World’… broadway’s top stars gather to sing a piece specially written for this campaign.
- Stephen Colbert – It Gets Better – Stephen shares his secret weapon for fighting bullying
- Kermit The Frog “It Gets Better” video – Kermit can relate… because it’s not easy being green.
- Barack Obama: It Gets Better
3. Jubilee Project
About Jubilee Project
What happens when you take three young guys who want to do good with their filmmaking skills? You get a channel loaded with plenty of great short videos with meaning. In early Jubilee Project days, they would choose a cause to highlight and find a creative way to shine a light on the issue. The earliest ones included Hundred for Haiti, World Vision, and A Day Without Shoes by Toms Shoes. They’d then partner up with a relevant non-profit to raise funds for, and found companies to sponsor a small amount of money for every view their video got. This opened up the opportunity for everybody to share great content AND do good at the same time, just by encouraging their friends to watch the video too.
Jubilee Project Videos
Creative storytelling for good causes. That’s what Jubilee Project has done beautifully. My top choice is Love Language. It’s their most-viewed video of all time. Beautifully simple, with an excellent soundtrack to boot. It’s inspired many others around the world to create their own variations of the video.
Here are some of my other favorites:
- Back To Innocence – Made to raise awareness about sex trafficking in America. Fellow film geeks will also appreciate how they told the story by playing their footage in reverse.
- Jose: An Underdog Story – True story of how one high schooler overcame his alcohol addition and troubled past, with a special surprise from Jeremy Lin at the end.
4. Invisible People
About Invisible People
Run on pure passion and the power of social media by Mark Horvath, who was once homeless himself, Invisible People puts a human face on the issue of homelessness in the U.S. As his tagline aptly puts it, “homelessness has a name”. On any given day, you’ll find mark traveling around with his camcorder, meeting people who are homeless, and giving them a platform to share their stories. His hope? To eliminate homelessness within the next 10 years. With over 17,000 subscribers, thousands of video views a day, and zero budget, Invisible People’s doing remarkable work to raise awareness and tackle the issue one story at a time.
Invisible People Videos
These videos help us understand that when we talk about statistics around homelessness, it’s the lives of real people we’re talking about. Every number represents a daughter, a son, a parent, a friend. Each story helps to break stereotypes of what it means to be homeless and what causes it.
“The invisible guy didn’t intend to become homeless. I didn’t plan on living on the street. Everyone on on the streets has their own story, some made bad decisions, others were victims, but none of them deserve what they have been left with, and it is a reflection of our own society that we just leave them there.”
These videos truly help make the invisible visible.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Michael, Danielle and Family – Michael, Danielle and their 6 children went from living in a house they were renting, to living in a tiny weekly-rate hotel room because their landlord didn’t pay the mortgage. Michael works a full time job, but still can’t make ends meet. On the day of this interview, they were packing up to leave the hotel with no where else to go because they had run out of money.
- Robyn and Mickey – two 17-year olds in Ottowa, Canada talk about what it’s like being homeless, the challenges of finding shelter because most don’t take couples, or their dog, and how the system makes it hard for them to find even the most basic jobs.
- Cecilia and Juliana – Cecilia and her two kids have been homeless for two years. Every day, they have to vacate their evening-only shelter. While her son goes to school, Cecilia and her daughter wait at a day shelter to take a shower. When they closes at 3pm, they wait at a park before standing in line to get into the night shelter once again.
Simply put, GOOD is a place to share creative solutions for living well and doing good. From longer documentaries about education, to shorter PSAs about ways to save the environment, GOOD finds creative and entertaining ways to get the message across. Paired with an online magazine, and a community space to connect other like-minded individuals, GOOD creates a beautiful ecosystem of creating good content, inspiring action, and connecting people for a better world.
GOOD’s team has clearly invested much time and energy into creating each piece of content. The video I like most is Future Learning, a short documentary about revolutionizing what it means to learn.
Here are some of my other favorites:
- GOOD Attacks: A Traffic Infographic – A refreshing way to propose a solution to LA’s big traffic congestion problem
- GOOD: Vampire Energy – Did you know that thousands of us are guilty of energy waste without even knowing it? Here’s what Vampire Energy is taking from us every day.
And there you have it, great examples of YouTube channels doing good. Their stories spread far and wide through the power of video.
Has your non-profit organization or social enterprise started, or considered starting its own YouTube Channel? What’s your favorite example from above that you think your organization can learn from and adapt? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, I read every one.