The Greatest Online Video Ever Made by a Nonprofit

Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang. As a HubSpot Certified inbound marketer, he is a contributor to Nonprofit Hub, National Council of Nonprofits, Ragan, Social Media Today, Search Engine Journal, The Build Network, HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute and Business2Community. Steven has spoken at national and local conferences, and is frequently interviewed by media outlets for his expertise in digital marketing.

I found the greatest online video ever made by a nonprofit. Yes, it’s true. It was published a few weeks ago by Greenpeace USA. Want to see it? Here it is:

 Watch Video>>

Greenpeace was apparently filming a time-lapse sequence for an upcoming documentary when this curious marmot approached the camera and began licking the lens. So far, it’s racked up over 1.8 million views.

Why is this the greatest?

There are several reasons why I think this is the perfect example of an effective online video. It has a lot to do with the video itself, but it also has to do with what happens after the viewer watches.

1. Look for Simple, Serendipitous Moments

Obviously, Greenpeace didn’t set out to create a video of a marmot licking their camera lens. They were doing something else entirely. However, a serendipitous moment occurred and the organization took advantage of it.

Moments like these happen all the time in and around your organization. You don’t have to create an overly-produced, polished and rehearsed video with meticulously scripted talking points. You can simply capture something fun happening in your office or out in the field in which you serve.

2. Put Your Mission, Not Your Organization, On Display

Notice how this video says nothing about Greenpeace? You wouldn’t know who it came from unless you clicked through to the donation page or dug into the YouTube account info. This video puts the mission, not the organization, on display. There are no Greenpeace employees or volunteers. Just a beautiful landscape and a furry creature who is a benefactor of the good work the organization does.

Before you start producing promotional content, consider creating missional content.

3. Don’t forget the call-to-action

Greenpeace does a masterful job of giving the viewer something to do after they watch the video. You may have noticed towards the end of the video that a text annotation appears on the player window:

YouTube Annotation

The viewer is asked to “Click here to protect this little guy’s home from climate change.” This is a perfect CTA. It ties the content of the video directly to a desire action, while blending in the mission of the organization and creating a sense of urgency – all with just 10 words.

It would have been easy for Greenpeace to just post this video and let the views rack up just for fun, but they went a step further.

By the way, anyone can create a YouTube annotation like this. Here are some instructions.

The annotation links to an impeccable donation page:

Greenpeace Donation Page

For good measure, they also include a CTA in the text description of the video:

Video Description CTA

So many nonprofit social media postings include rich media like a photo or a video, but forget the CTA. Remember, you always want to give the viewer something to do next! It’s likely that Greenpeace generated a lot of new donations where they ordinarily wouldn’t have had this video never been published.

What do you think of this video? Have you seen any other examples of effective online videos from nonprofits? Let me know in the comments below!


Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.

August 23, 2014

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