video sharing

What’s the ROI on Your Video?

4 Comments 12 June 2013

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A new report commissioned by See3, Edelman, and YouTube’s Nonprofit Program entitled “Into Focus” is the first survey to look at the how nonprofit organizations are using video, the barriers to use, and the ROI of a video strategy. The report offers value to nonprofit organizations on both a practical level (for example, offering an illustrated decision path on how to make a popular and effective video) and as a benchmark report for how organizations are leveraging video and allocating resources to its production and distribution. The big findings are not about how organizations are using video, but what they are not doing.

Nonprofits Have Defined Goals, but Do Not Measure Video Impact

The nonprofit organizations surveyed created videos to achieve one of four stated broad goals. In order of popularity, those goals are: marketing and awareness (87%), fundraising (46%), membership development and relations (32%), Advocacy (30%).  The obvious correlation is to map goals to strategy and measure effectiveness, however 79% of nonprofits either don’t know how to analyze the impact of their videos or they only track it anecdotally.

The report authors emphasize that two the most important things an organization can do to improve its video’s return on investment (ROI) are to define a clear, attainable goal…and measure how and if it reaches that goal.  The most powerful anecdotal story in the report is a story from a data scientist at who admitted that the organization was initially concerned most with video views (1.5 million) as the critical metric; the right metric was those who move from viewing to donating. Within the report, you will find a wide range of tips and strategies to develop and define the goals of a video, measure effectiveness, and overcome barriers to using video. Beth Kanter also offers a framework for thinking about measuring video.

How Videos are Shared

Not surprisingly, about 91% of nonprofits surveyed felt that YouTube and Facebook are critical video distribution channels. The survey revealed that these are the top two social media distribution for video, followed by Twitter and Vimeo. Aside from where they are shared online, I agree with the report’s emphasis that it is most important to share first to your core audience, and to leverage their loyalty for distribution and views. In addition, it is important to place video prominently on the website, using email for distribution, and making sure that the videos highly shareable through links to use for sharing and social network sharing.

YouTube’s Nonprofit Program is Highly Underutilized

Only 42% of the organizations surveyed replied that they participate in YouTube’s Nonprofit program. 18% of respondents were not sure if their organization belonged to the Nonprofit Program. This was a real surprise, given that they are all surveyed about nonprofit use and over 91% feel that YouTube is a critical distribution source.

The Future of Nonprofit Video is More

“More media overall and exponentially more video,” the report authors predict. By 2016, the sum of all forms of video will be approx 86% of global consumer traffic, cited from the Cisco Visual Networking Index. At the beginning of the report, the authors state that “80% of respondents said that video is important to their organization today, and 91% foresee that its role will increase over the next three years. Nearly everyone (92%) values the investment they have made in video production, and 87% want to produce more videos.”

Nonprofits get that the role of video will continue to grow, and the report offers readers a benchmark of where the nonprofit video industry is today, and what’s holding it back. The future of nonprofit video appears to be summarized in one word: more.

Note: the report compiled and analyzed the responses of 446 respondents in US and Canada. Respondents represent organizations of all size: 30% are small organizations, 25% are medium-sized, and 45% have large budgets. For more information, download the report here.


  • Elisa

    How do you take the leap of faith and do this for the first time? Many board members think it is silly and not worth the effort. How do you convince them that this is worthwile? I want to do this for our non profit but it is very hard to get buy in when others are not as savy in the world of social media.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Elisa,

    Great question. What about asking the board: “How could video support our goals better than other media or communication tactics?” Video isn’t just about social media, it’s really about storytelling, which is traditional communication. For example, if it is to bring stakeholders into the organization and help them “see” what goes on so that they may feel more involved, then video is a perfect medium for that. If it’s an annual appeal, there’s the personal and emotional factor of a video that is often more compelling than a written story.

    What this report really hones in on is that, though video is used often,
    it’s not often used strategically. I would think that one could make
    the case to a board with a video strategy in hand that includes strategic goals and a plan to measure success (did viewers take action, did viewers
    share the video, did it raise awareness).

    As the report states, video doesn’t have to be expensive or that time-consuming with new tools and efficiencies. There may be a perception that it is, so understanding all the objections may be a factor.

    I’ll ask See3 if they are able to offer further thoughts about your question.


  • tonyloftis

    Thanks for sharing Deb. Most organizations forget that measurement is a vital part of a social media strategy. Your review provides a great reminder about why measuring makes us better.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Tony, thanks. I know you do a great job at Find Your Missing Child. Do you use video to support the work there?



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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