They've been talking about it behind the scenes for a few weeks now, but unlike those companies who just talk (and trust me, a lot of companies do), Chad, Steve and all the folks at YouTube have actually delivered.
The YouTube Nonprofit Program - announced in a commitment the company made at the Clinton Global Initiative - enables nonprofit organizations (those with 501c3 tax filing status in the US) to receive a free nonprofit specific YouTube channel where they can upload footage of their work, public service announcements, calls to action and more. The channel will also allow nonprofits to collect donations with no processing costs using the newly launched Google Checkout for Nonprofits.
The announcement follows closely on the heels of Google Apps for nonprofits and Google Earth Outreach - both of which allow nonprofit organizations to take advantage of the suite of innovative software that Google has made available for free to organizations that serve the public good.
With the YouTube announcement, it's not unfair to make the claim that Google has done more to reach out to and support US nonprofits in 2007 than any other company - particularly given that Google is not charging even for the processing of donations, and freely making their other services available to more than 1.5 million organizations.
A couple specifics for participants in the YouTube Nonprofit program:
• A premium channel on YouTube that serves as a nonprofit's hub for their uploaded videos. Through the channel, people can connect with a nonprofit via messages, subscriptions, comments and just about anything else they can think of. Nonprofits will also receive enhanced channel branding features and increased upload capacity. (These are features for which companies and entities like political campaigns pay quite the premium.)
• Designation as a "Nonprofit" on YouTube that clearly identifies organizations as a nonprofit for YouTube community. (To distinguish from things like this. Which is helpful...)
• The ability to embed a Google Checkout donation button on their channel and video watch pages, allowing people to quickly and securely make a contribution directly from YouTube. This means that nonprofit organizations will receive 100 percent of donated funds, as Google has committed to processing all donations for free through at least the end of 2008. As great as Network for Good and other services which process online donations are, those organizations/websites still take a small percentage of the processed funds. This offering is the first to turn over 100 percent of donations to the organizations for which they are intended.
• In the coming months, YouTube is going to create a centralized area on their site for nonprofit videos, making them and their videos more easily discoverable.
For a guy like me, and for organizations like the one I represent, it is business initiatives like these that are truly exciting. This is the kind of thing that we envision as soon as we hear about a site like YouTube being launched (right after we gawk at Obama Girl).
Chad Hurley seems to have had the same idea: "When YouTube was founded we dreamed that people would someday leverage the site to make the world a better place...It is an honor to have great organizations and individuals utilizing YouTube to raise awareness of noble causes and we are thrilled to offer a program that helps them thrive and inspire change."
Well said, YouTube. Even if it is a well prepared press statement. You guys have gone beyond "not being evil" to "doing good" - and done so in your actions; which is a lot cooler than words.
Just don't stop.