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Advertising on YouTube for Nonprofits 101

By Jared Matthews, Strategy and Research Manager


No doubt you’re already familiar with the two behemoths of online advertising — Google and Facebook. Your nonprofit probably already has active campaigns going on at least one, if not both, of the platforms.

But what about YouTube?

Sure, you’ve seen viral videos and even watched event livestreams on YouTube … but have you considered the possibilities of running ads there to increase brand-awareness, engage with donors and prospects, and even convert donations?

Here’s why this video-based online platform may be the perfect addition to your organization’s advertising portfolio …

Why Nonprofits Should Consider Advertising on YouTube

The short answer is: YouTube is one of the most popular platforms on the planet.

The long answer demonstrates this fact again and again by the numbers:

  • YouTube boasts 2.5 billion monthly active users — some 122 million+ daily (Omnicore Agency).
  • 81% of U.S. adults use YouTube (Comparitech).
  • Five billion videos are watched on YouTube daily (Omnicore Agency).
  • YouTube is the world’s second most-visited search engine after Google (Zuri Group).
  • 57% of people who watch nonprofit videos on YouTube go on to make a donation (Empower Agency).
  • 68% of YouTube’s nonprofit video watchers will go on to view similar videos over the next 30 days (Empower Agency).

When it comes to advertising — as in real estate — it’s all about location, location, location. And YouTube is increasingly appearing on the short list of places where nonprofits most want to be because of the vast number of potential donors who can be reached there and the return on investment they derive.

For this reason, the digital team at BBS & Associates strongly recommends your ministry consider spending at least some of your online advertising attention and resources on YouTube.

How to Get Started Advertising on YouTube

First, you’ll want to make sure your ministry has a Google for Nonprofits account. Google owns YouTube; so once an account is in place, you’ll also be able to enjoy the YouTube Nonprofit Program.

Next, you’ll need to have a YouTube channel for your organization connected to your Google for Nonprofits/YouTube Nonprofit Program account.

Once you’re officially in the YouTube Nonprofit Program, you’re ready to start leveraging the platform toward your organization’s prospecting and fundraising goals — including advertisements.

There are a wide variety of ad types you can pick from, but four favorites we have found to be both popular and effective for our clients include:

  • Skippable Video Ads
    If you’ve spent any time on YouTube yourself, you’ve almost certainly seen this ultra-popular ad type. They can play at any point in the video (before, during, or after) and can be skipped by the viewer after five seconds. (Of course, if you use those first five seconds wisely, viewers may be so captivated by your organization’s mission and message that they watch the whole thing!)
  • Non-skippable Video Ads
    Think of these ads as the previews you see before the movie begins to play in a theater. These are the 15- to 20-second videos viewers must watch — without the opportunity to skip — before the main video starts.
  • Bumper Ads
    Similar to the non-skippable video ads mentioned above — but these even shorter! These are just six seconds long, appear before a viewer sees the main video, and cannot be skipped.
  • Display Ads
    These appear only when viewing YouTube on a computer (not via mobile device). And although the audience is more limited, the real estate it occupies (to the right of the featured video, above the list of suggested videos to watch next) will certainly attract a lot of eyeballs among desktop users.

(You can also find a wealth of great tips on other ways to utilize YouTube for your nonprofit in YouTube Social Impact: The Playbook.)

How Much Does Advertising on YouTube Cost?

According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2023 Guide, you can expect to spend somewhere between $0.010 and $0.030 per view of your advertisement. On average, reaching 100,000 viewers will cost around $2,000.

Of course, every nonprofit is different — so your mileage may vary depending on the bidding strategy you implement for your advertising campaign.

Bidding works almost identically to advertising on Google (which makes sense, given that Google owns YouTube). Essentially, you’ll come to the table with a budget in mind for how much you’re willing to spend per day on YouTube ads, and YouTube will charge you anytime someone engages with your ad up to that budgeted amount.

What counts as an engagement will be clearly defined in your bid — but may look like simply viewing your ad or clicking the ad through to your website.

You can start bidding at whatever level you feel comfortable — say $10 or $15 a day to get your feet wet — and adjust your budget as you gain the confidence to experiment and find your sweet spot for the engagement and donor conversions you’re looking to generate.

Have questions or want help with advertising your nonprofit on YouTube and other platforms? I’d love to chat with you about your organization’s specific goals and strategy. Simply send me an email at