Never mind YouTube contests – equip your supporters as citizen journalists


On Wednesday the UN’s food agency, The World Food Programme, launched what it described as a “unique international competition” called Hunger Bytes – calling for budding film-makers to “put their creativity towards raising awareness about hunger”, through the creation of 30 to 60 second videos. The top five selected by WFP will be posted on YouTube and whichever receives the most views will win its creator a chance to visit and film one of WFP’s relief operations.

While I’m not sure how “unique” using YouTube to encourage the creation of promo videos for causes is these days, their competition is a good reminder of the potential of YouTube as a platform from which individuals can help promote a cause.

However, if you really want to maximise on the potential of online video it’s worth thinking beyond straightforward competitions for online promos.

We live in a world where citizen journalism is becoming increasingly common – as shown by all the requests for photos or video footage on TV news shows. At the same time, research into what donors want in return for their support increasingly highlights the importance of helping them to understand just how their money delivers the goods – especially donors in the ‘Baby Boomer’ demographic.

So, how about putting the two together? Capitalising on the ease with which good quality video content can be filmed, edited and posted online to enable groups of supporters – from all age groups – to become citizen journalists, reporting-back on your work to their peers.

For example, if you’re an animal welfare charity, could a small group of volunteers film the work of your veterinary team for a day to offer a ‘supporter’s eye view’ on how their donations are being used? They might need some help to produce a quality product, but it could make for an interesting and engaging alternative to the day-to-day newsletters and updates that people are used to receiving (and all too often ignoring)?

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