YouTube for Charities

Curating the RNLI YouTube Channel

YouTube is one of the most difficult social media platforms for a charity to get on board with but when you get it right, it’s a great way to connect with your supporters.

So here’s the RNLI’s Nathan Murray on how they YouTube work for them.

You need a video content strategy…

YouTube is more challenging than other platforms to build a following, keeping it fresh can be time consuming and sourcing videos can cost money and take a lot effort.At the RNLI, we work to the hero, hub and hygiene model, an approach by YouTube for brands on how to build a sustainable channel – you can read more about it in this Guardian article. It works like this:

Hero Content

This is the showpiece content and should reach new and existing audiences by entertaining and inspiring them to find out more or get involved with the work of your charity. Our hero films are usually created to support our fundraising and awareness campaigns, like The Breathe Test for our Respect The Water campaign which has been viewed 342,380 times this year.

Our  hero films are professionally made either by our in-house Film and Image team or by an external production company. They are storyboarded, filled with key messages and created with a specific purpose – e.g. to raise awareness of a campaign – and we find hero content can rarely be made without some investment of time and money.

Hub content

This is here to keep your YouTube audience engaged. Hub videos should be uploaded regularly and should aim to sustain your audiences’ interest in your charity’s work. For this to be viable, videos need to be created relatively cheaply and aim to always have a similar theme or look-and-feel. This is the kind of content that vloggers like Mr Ben Brown and vagabrothers do really well – content that keeps people coming back week after week.

At the RNLI we are well set-up to create this kind of hub content. We have 236 lifeboat stations and over 200 lifeguarded beaches, all with cameras which are mounted to helmets, lifeboats or body boards. At each station, there is a volunteer who is trained to edit and upload footage to an internal video library. This system has come about after a lot of investment from our internal Film & Image and PR teams, the primary goal of which was to provide media outlets with dramatic rescue footage.

You can see some of these films on the RNLI Channel

A destination channel

It means that through our hub & hygiene content, we can keep our supporters engaged with the work we are doing and demonstrate how their support is going towards saving lives. It also makes our YouTube channel a destination – if a rescue has made the headlines, we’ll ensure the footage is jam-packed with keywords to ensure users find the footage. They then often go on to watch ‘related videos’, meaning they stay on our channel for longer.

Far from having high production values, we’ve been amazed at how well this ‘rough and ready’ content performs on YouTube, with it often receiving more views than some of our hero videos, which proves that audiences like watching real, authentic content and are inspired by the bravery and skill of our volunteer lifeboat crews.

Photographs by Nigel Millard

We regularly publish helpful blogs and reviews of new films

sign up and stay inspired!

Written by Nathan Murray

Nathan Murray is Social Media Content Office at the RNLI. Which means that as well as producing  content to inspire & engage his charity’s supporters,  he’s  also at the heart of the RNLI online community, listening & collaborating with people  across their network of staff, volunteers and supporters.

To chat more about YouTube or find out a bit more about the work we are doing at the RNLI, get in contact on Twitter: @MrNathanMurray

Magneto Films Logo London video producers

Magneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with the charity sector, not-for-profits and the public sector. We specialise in telling real stories, working with case studies and real people to make films that move people to action. More about Magneto Films

email us!

Leave a Reply