YouTube added a feature that could enable non-profits to easily raise money or call actions using video. The Call-To-Action Overlay creates a semi-transparent pop-up at the bottom of a Youtube video screen with a hyperlink to any external website. You could link to a donation page, your non-profit’s blog, a petition, or even a volunteer sign-up page.

How non profits can use Youtube’s Call To Action feature

This new feature will increase the likelihood of people taking action from your video. For example, a video showing children playing in a newly constructed schoolyard in Mozambique could have a link where viewers can take part in building more schools.

These overlays can also be set to appear at a specific moment in the video. For example, when a voiceover asks the viewer to help build more schools for children.

This makes links sexier

  • The link is right in front of the user – not in their peripheral vision
  • The Call-To-Action popup can appear when the viewer asked to take action
  • The user’s eyes will be drawn to the sudden appearance of the overlay

The web is an interactive medium, where folks feel the need to click links in order to glean the most utility and value. The Call-To-Action overlay should work much better than just putting a link in the video summary or asking folks to manually type another URL in the browser.

And there’s already proof that it works! charity:water raised $10,000 in 24 hours during a testing phase of the Call-To-Action Overlay.

Leverage your Steven Spielbergs

Are some of your raving fans good at making videos? Then check out the post written by Amy RS Ward titled “YouTube calls for video volunteers to help nonprofits”. This new volunteers program, in concert with the Call-To-Action Overlay technology described above, will engage your existing “fundraisers” in a very powerful ways!

Tip: CharityHowTo now has a comprehensive Youtube tutorial for non-profits – for only $19.99. Totally worth the money

How would you use the Call To Action overlay?

Learn how one nonprofit increased their online fundraising by 1,400%!


Learn the tools, tactics, messaging, and website tweaks that created thier explosive result!


    1. Nathan – Thanks for stopping by! If the overlay message is clear and honest, I don’t think it would turn people off. Plus, they can always close the ad.

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Maybe this will encourage more nonprofits that YouTube is a valuable online tool if there is some sort of visible call to action.

    1. YouTUbe is a great tool for nonprofits that have resources to make videos – embedding that call to action in strategic places is key.

      Just checked out Animoto for a Cause the other day (nonprofits can register for free pro accounts) – it lets you create a video with text, images and sound. Although you can only add you call to action at the end of the video – it’s another great way to have viewers click directly through to your cause landing page!

      Just thought I’d share!

    2. I hope so too.

      However, if a non-profit was discouraged from using Youtube before this functionality was available, and this small feature changed their mind, they’ve got a serious strategic problem: They forget that they have a kick-ass mission!

  2. I LOVE this feature on YouTube! I wish more nonprofits would use it. Movement Vision Lab used an overlay in this video short I made on the fly for them:

    My frustration as a freelancer/consultant is that it requires nonprofits to apply for and receive a nonprofit account with YouTube (am I right on this?). With dysfunctional bureaucratic structures inside nonprofits that stifle social media use, this is often a convoluted process. I wish it was more widely available to activists without 501c3′s so we could do the overlays ourselves.

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