In early-2016, YouTube rolled out a new feature to content creators who host their videos on the YouTube platform. Now, users can harness their content for the good of U.S.-based nonprofit organizations.

Here’s everything you need to know about YouTube Donation Cards:

What are YouTube Donation Cards?

A donation card is essentially a link to a donation form that sits on top of a YouTube video.

There are several other types of cards that can be placed on videos: Video or Playlist (to promote a video or playlist), Channel (to promote another channel) and Link (a link to an approved website).

They appear as a small, text-based annotation that appears in a corner of the video.

Skip to 1:10 in the video below to see the donation card in action:

When the text or icon is clicked, a small donation form appears:

card-donation-form

Video viewers can donate directly from the video they’re watching. The card essentially acts as a call-to-action for the viewer. The gift is 100% tax deductible for the donor.

Pros:

  • harness video content as a potentially new revenue stream
  • the nonprofit gets 100% of the donation

Cons:

  • nonprofits don’t receive the donor data information
  • you can’t control donation cards on videos you don’t own

Google covers the processing fees and Network For Good distributes the funds to the organization at the end of each month.

Who is eligible?

If you’re a United States, IRS-validated, 501(c)3 public nonprofit, you can add donation cards to your organization’s videos.

How to create and add a donation card

Here are the step-by-step instructions from YouTube for adding a donation card to an existing video:

1. On a computer signed into your YouTube account, go to your Video Manager.

2. Find the video you want to add cards to and select Edit. This can be a new video that you create specifically for the cause or a video that you’ve already uploaded.

youtube-edit

3. In the tab bar at the top, select Cards.

youtube-cards

4. Select Add card.

5. Next to “Donation,” click Create.

youtube-donation-card

6. Type the name of the nonprofit you want to support into the search box. Choose it from the list of available nonprofits and then click Create card. You may have to choose an image, first.

youtube-donation-card-org

7. Customize your card:

8. Enter the title and teaser text.

youtube-donation-card-customize

9; Click Change image if you’d like to choose another image from the category images.

10. Click Create card.

You can specify at which point the card appears in the videoyoutube-donation-card-timeline

Settings for existing cards can be edited at anytime.

4 ways nonprofits can leverage YouTube Donation Cards

As with any digital fundraising too, it’s important to have a plan for execution. Here are four ways you can consider implementing a YouTube donation card:

1. Add them to an existing video of your own

If you have existing videos that make a clear ask, a donation card is an ideal interactive call-to-action, in addition to having a link in the video description. Be sure that it matches the content of the video.

For best results, create a video specifically designed to have a donation card. Don’t just slap one on every video you already have.

2. Ask video creators to add them to their videos

This is perhaps the most powerful use of the tool. If you can identify videos that other users have made on your behalf (events, peer-to-peer appeals, etc.), don’t be shy about approaching them to add cards to your videos. You can even branch out to users whose content isn’t necessarily about you, but has a connection to your cause (such as my Fort Phoenix example above).

For example, Buzzard Bay Coalition could run a quick search – https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=buzzards+bay – and identify numerous video creators that they could reach out to.

3. Ask a supporter to create a video specifically designed to have a donation card

As with tip #1, you don’t have to just rely on existing videos. If you have engaged donors or volunteers who are comfortable with or prolific in creating web videos, let them know that this tool is available and that it could enhance the direct results of any video they create on your behalf. Again, events and P2P campaigns are ideal (think: ice bucket challenge videos).

4. Measure and adjust often

As with so many fundraising activities, you should examine the effectiveness of your donation cards often. Don’t be afraid to adjust the text of the card, as well as the timing in which it appears in the video.

YouTube gives you some robust data on the performance of your cards. Just log into your account, visit https://www.youtube.com/analytics and select “Cards” from the left-hand menu.

Here are some additional tips from YouTube:

  • Only have one card in the video so viewers aren’t overwhelmed.
  • Make sure your donation card is relevant to what’s being discussed or happening in the video.
  • Make sure to let viewers know to click on the information icon .
  • Make your teaser text interesting and actionable. Use it to provide context for the donation card or cause. The longer the teaser, the bigger the click target for your viewers.
  • Strategically place the teaser text based on what the video is showing. Make sure you place it before the point in the video where viewers drop off.

It will be interesting to see how effective donation cards end up being for nonprofits who adopt them. Has your organization added donation cards to your videos? How have they performed?

Let me know in the comments below!

The Art & Science of Digital Donor Retention

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media.