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    January 15, 2009

    User-generated video: nonprofits' next frontier

    While more and more nonprofit organizations are starting to utilize videos: links in email appeals, embedded on home pages, uploaded to YouTube, few appear to have a clear video strategy, and even fewer, (none that I can think of), allow users to interact with them through user-generated content.

    Those who have been most adept at using video have tended to be relief organizations: displaying content of relief efforts both as promotional material and as an appeal tool.

    Let's be clear here, I am not talking about DRTV, a space for many charities have been for years, and many have been successful, including a recent campaign by the ASPCA that has generated over $30 million dollars for the organization.

    But few organizations seem to be capitalizing on an asset that is certain to be powerful, personal, and viral-video content generated by donors, volunteers, advocates, beneficiaries, and other that have been touched by an organization's reach.

    Case in point: many health charities have developed extensive spaces for those dealing with a particular health issue, or those taking care of them, to share stories, discuss promising medical procedures, get moral support. Some even have memorial pages that can be set up in honor of a particular person. But I have not come across any large health charity that has created a space for people to upload videos where they can share their experience, video blog about their struggles, encourage others to press on.

    Search YouTube for the word "cancer" or "heart disease" and you will find thousands of videos from cancer patients, survivors, memorial tributes, heart disease suffers. These stories are moving, and most have at least several dozen comments from YouTube viewers.

    Why are so few nonprofits encouraging this kind of organic community building around their cause? In the process, developing an entire new network of potential donors, and at the same time, accessing marketing collateral that in all likelihood, they would not have to pay for?

    I suspect that in the coming year, as many organizations struggle to find the internal resources to pay professionals for designing, editing, and publicizing video thru more "traditional" means, more will tune into the untapped potential of user-generated video content.

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