How To Make Your YouTube Channel Look Great in 2016

In as many ways as YouTube is informative and edu-taining, navigating through volumes of nonprofit videos can scare even the most seasoned communications professional.

When you consider that YouTube has been in existence since 2005, chances are you have dozens – if not hundreds – of videos online. Best practices change, employees turnover, and your videos are accumulating digital dust.

Why not kick-start the New Year by giving your nonprofit’s YouTube channel a makeover it deserves? While we cannot promise you the answer to more subscribers on a streaming platter, we can provide you with tools of the trade for making your stakeholders viewership – and your publishing process – a bit simpler. From thumbnails to playlists, here are four easy steps to make your YouTube channel look great in 2016.


1. Pick great thumbnails

The images that you use to promote YouTube videos are just as important as the video your team has produced.

With hundreds of thousands of results rendered in mere seconds, the thumbnail that’s visible on your video will make all the difference between a watch and a skip. Instead of letting YouTube’s automated process select the frame to be used as a thumbnail, look for a captivating and clear shot that draws attention to your video. If you have some extra capacity, you may also want to consider branding your thumbnails with your nonprofit’s logo or hashtag to make it stand out from the pack.

Salvation Army USA's YouTube videos include great thumbnails for its latest campaign, #RedKettleSeason.


2. Create compelling channel art

Another area where you can really make a statement is with the banner image that rests behind your logo on YouTube, which is better known as “channel art.” With channel art, you can brand your organization’s YouTube page to be campaign or brand specific — the options are really endless.

A great example of this is Charity:Water’s profile photo and banner, which can be seen here.


3. Optimize your video for easy search

We cannot overemphasize the importance of researching keywords that can be used in your video titles and descriptions before publishing your videos. YouTube’s search engine cannot read videos, so it needs the text from your video's title, tags and description to make it easier for people to find your videos when they do a search on YouTube. Taking into consideration YouTube best practices, now is as great a time as any to revisit your video descriptions and tags and see where you can strengthen the descriptors.

An example is how the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) uses keywords in its videos like “refugee” and “climate change” – both of which are popular search terms connected to the issues it is talking about, as well as the names of the countries each video showcases.


4. Organize your video archive with playlists

YouTube’s playlist function allows you to group a collection of videos by whatever topic you deem necessary. And you’ll want to make these categories something that people can understand, which can include your organization’s project areas, campaigns or the demographic regions in which you serve. Additionally, a note to consider is if your organization has offices spanning the globe, it may be beneficial to use the “Channels” tab to link to your organization’s other channels.

An example of this is Save The Children’s playlist Vlog for Good, which started as a competition where YouTube personalities could compete for the chance to take editorial control over Save The Children UK’s YouTube channel for a year.



While the idea of archiving and preserving your nonprofit’s videos may seem daunting at best, now is the time for you to organize your visual storytelling. By refreshing your nonprofit’s YouTube channel, you open the door for more opportunities to keep your story going in front of new audiences at newer moments.

Author: Nicole Miles
  • Video
  • Nonprofits
  • YouTube
  • Social Media