Originally posted on the NetSquared blog.

I recently wrote about Tu Diabetes’ use of Twitter and the strategies the online community has employed to find and engage with new people. Today, I want to take a look at another social media tool Tu Diabetes is using successfully: YouTube.

YouTube is an online video tool “allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”

Tu Diabetes has a YouTube channel with over 60 videos and over 70 subscriptions. Manny Hernandez, community founder, explained the group’s YouTube strategies to me recently.

I asked Manny what the original idea or example was that got Tu Diabetes using YouTube for fundraising. Manny said that Tu Diabetes adopted video as a tool to communicate with members since the very beginning. Early on, before they were even a non-profit (2007) they produced weekly podcasts to summarize the highlights in the community and do a member update. (You can see an example here.) All the videos included on YouTube have previously been posted in the video section on TuDiabetes.com (or EsTuDiabetes.com, if they are in Spanish).

I think the power and success of fundraising with video is one of the most interesting aspects of Tu Diabetes’ use of YouTube. Manny said that, so far, ALL the funds raised through the members (close to $3,500) since they started the fundraising campaign have been tied to video-based-asks. We have had three videos during the campaign so far, which started in June, with each one getting more and more on target:

One of the most frequently asked questions I come across when organizations are considering using videos on organizational websites or places like YouTube is the burden of resources, costs, etc. For Tu Diabetes, the only technical resources used are Mac-based. Manny shot the first two using the built-in iSight camera on his MacBook. The most recent one was done on his wife’s Mac Pro, combining images posted by our members in the community. All videos were edited using iMovie. The most recent one had music donated by the duo Hammock (one of his favorite bands – http://hammockmusic.com).

It is important to keep in mind the goals an organization has when considering the use/adoption of social media tools, because there are just so many to choose from. One of the goals of the Diabetes Hands Foundation is to raise diabetes awareness. Based on that, you have to look at video views. The most viewed videos to date are here: the Drawing Diabetes video with close to 27,000 views, and the Word In Your Hand video with close to 2,500 views + several thousand more views through TuDiabetes and other outlets.

The other goal is to help connect people touched by diabetes (they’ve found diabetes to be a “closet” condition where people that have it barely talk about it with others). Based on this, the Spanish videos have been the most successful, resulting in proportionally many more people touched by diabetes joining the community (EsTuDiabetes.com). Manny thinks this is because there is a bigger need for Spanish content about diabetes and, specifically, content that people can understand easily.

Social media tools are ultimately about building community and making connections between the organization and new members. With YouTube, Tu Diabetes reaches out to new members. They do periodic searches for “diabetes” on YouTube and leave relevant comments to people who also share their diabetes stories on YT. It is very important that the comments be contextual and valuable. We take the opportunity to tell people about the community. Normally invitations to join result in people joining.

Besides YouTube, Tu Diabetes has used:

So, what are the future plans for Tu Diabetes’ use of YouTube? They are currently waiting on the approval of 501c3 status. Once approved, they will be able to take full advantage of the YouTube for Nonprofits program. Tu Diabetes will continue to publish video content, which they do on the YouTube channel, because they feel it is a great means to accomplish the goal of raising diabetes awareness.

What do you think about Tu Diabetes’ use of YouTube? Has your organization considered using videos on your website or on a public channel like YouTube? What goals would you want to address with the help of video?  Comment with the Net Squared community, too!

Tu Diabetes Fundraises with YouTube, do you?
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  • Thank you for sharing with your readers our approach to fundraising through online videos. We hope this will help other nonprofits!

  • Hey Amy, Great post.
    I work at United Way of Mass Bay (http://supportunitedway.org) We do a lot of fundraising through the workplace and one of the things we’ve noticed is that a number of companies have restrictions that block youtube and any embedded videos from youtube. So we’ve had to think about that before embedding any videos. We tend to use Vimeo, Dogooder, or our own internal player to post videos. Some of the lesser known services are actually better because they haven’t made any blocked lists yet. Just thought I’d bring it up for those nonprofits who are trying to develop corporate partnerships.


  • Thanks for providing such a great example, Manny!

    Meghan- You raise a great point! Obviously, you show the pros to going with the other services. What do you think the cons may be? Have you gotten any feedback about your use of videos or video platforms that you didn’t expect? Thanks for sharing your story with us here!