Everything You Need to Know About Live Video Streaming for Nonprofits
Updated: Jul 8
This is a guest blog post shared with permission from Wild Apricot.
If you’ve been wondering how to stay front of mind and to continue communicating with your nonprofit audience during this season, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, live video could be the answer you’ve been looking for — and we’ll teach you everything you need to know about live streaming for nonprofits.
The Benefits of Live Streaming for Nonprofits
There are countless benefits to live video streaming for your nonprofit, from standing out from the noise on social media to building lasting relationships with your audience.
Live streaming can let people in behind the scenes to see what’s going on in your organization right now, or can help raise funds for a much-needed cause. It can also be a great alternative to hosting an in-person event.
Plus, live streaming is a great way to encourage in-the-moment engagement. With other forms of media, people may think, “Oh, I’ll just take a look later.” However, if you’re only offering the video for a certain period of time, you can create a sense of urgency that can be difficult to do online otherwise.
But even if you already know all of the value it can provide, you might not be familiar with the process of live streaming itself.
In this post, we’ll cover all our top tips and live video best practices, and will be sure to have you streaming in no time.
8 Live Streaming Best Practices For Your Event
If you want to take full advantage of your nonprofit’s live video, make sure you follow these live streaming best practices:
1. Choose the Right Platform
There are lots of different platforms you can choose from to host your live stream, and they’re not all created equally.
When choosing a platform, think about which ones you already have a presence on, which ones your audience is hanging out on, and which has the technical requirements you need for your live stream.
For more help deciding between some of the major players, read our guide to live video streaming on social media.
2. Test Your Tech
Picture this: you’ve done all the prep work, your team is ready, and you’re all set to go live… then your computer dies.
Or you can’t find your headphones.
Or you don’t know how to actually use the platform you’re going live on.
Things happen, we get it — but you can save yourself a lot of stress by testing your tech out in advance and making sure you have everything you need to start your streaming.
3. Do Some Promo
Once you’ve set a date for your nonprofit live streaming, start sharing it with your supporters. The more promotion you do, the more supporters will attend. Promotion could include making social media posts about it, creating a Facebook event, or sending out an email blast.
You can also use tools like AddEvent, that allow you to send a link to subscribers so that they can add the date to their calendar, whether they use Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Outlook or more!
4. Ask for a Helping Hand
However many people you have talking on the live video, one of our best tips for live streaming is to always make sure you have other people on your team ready to be there for back up. You never know what questions will come up, and whoever is talking shouldn’t be distracted by helping viewers with their slow connectivity.
Many platforms have chat channels that moderators can use, which can be useful for everything from tech support to fielding questions from the audience.
5. Keep it Interactive
When talking to your screen, it can be easy to forget that there are actual humans watching on the other side — but they won’t appreciate being forgotten!
Throughout your live stream, try and engage with the audience by asking questions, reading and responding to comments, and encouraging reactions or questions on their end. This makes for a much more enjoyable, and thus connected, experience for everyone.
6. Include a CTA
Before you start your live stream, you should establish your nonprofit video marketing strategy.
Why are you going live in the first place, and what do you want your viewers to get from it?
You might be trying to build connection, spread awareness, or raise funds. No matter what, you should be including a call to action, or CTA, for your audience.
Some sample CTAs could be to donate to your cause, ask a question, or share the live with a friend. Just make sure your CTA reflects the overall strategy and purpose of the live stream!
7. Don’t be Too Formal
Don’t worry too much about being perfectly polished or having top-notch production value. People are expecting authenticity, not perfection right now. Just show up how you are, and keep things casual! Your followers will appreciate seeing that your life isn’t perfect either.
8. Save It for Later
Saving your live broadcast to repurpose later is a great way to get more use out of it and re-share it for the people who weren’t able to attend the live version.
However, this works a little bit differently depending on which platform you’re using.
For example, if you’re live streaming on Facebook, your Facebook Live will automatically be saved as a video for your audience to watch later.
On Instagram, immediately after the live video ends, you can opt to share it to your stories for 24 hours or you can choose to save the video to your camera roll to repurpose later.
On TikTok, your live stream isn’t recorded at all, so unless you’re simultaneously doing a screen recording, you won’t be able to save your video.
Look up the specifications of the platform you’d like to use to figure out how best to save, re-access, or repurpose your live content!
6 Ideas for an Amazing Live Stream
Now that you know all of the best practices for live streaming events, it’s time to drill down on the content: what are you actually going to talk about during your live video?
Below are a few ideas to get you thinking.
1. Host a Q&A
A lot of organizations have had to pivot or adjust their programs and services recently, so it’s understandable if your audience is having trouble keeping up. Hosting a Q&A session can help clear up any confusion and answer any questions your followers might have. You could also answer questions about something your organization is particularly knowledgeable about to share your expertise — for example, if you're a ceramics museum, you could do a live on different types of pottery your collection features.
2. Do Some Newsjacking
If you haven’t heard of ‘newsjacking,’ it’s a term coined by the marketer David Meerman Scott to describe the phenomenon of brands commenting on news that’s going on in the world as a way to draw attention to their own content.
While it’s never ideal to pontificate, if you have something valuable to add to the conversation, this can be a good way to stay relevant and address the times.
TED has been using this strategy a lot lately with their live video series on COVID-19, by conducting interviews or Q&A sessions with experts in the field.
3. Share a Behind-The-Scenes
Similarly, letting your audience in behind the scenes can help build trust and allows you to be transparent about what’s going on in your organization right now. They’ll likely respect your authenticity and vulnerability, and might even be more willing to support you because of it!
4. Host an Event
If you had any sort of event planned for 2020, you’ve likely had to postpone, cancel, or figure out how you can deliver the event virtually. Live video is one of the best options to run virtual events these days, as it fosters community and helps participants feel as if they were actually there.
For example, many schools and universities are hosting live video graduation events to help their students celebrate their graduations and convocations, even if they can’t attend in person.
Texas A&M University held their 7-hour ceremony via Facebook Live so each of the 10,796 students graduating this semester could see their names flash across the big screen.
5. Partner With Another Organization
If you don’t want to host your own live stream, you could always partner with another organization and have them stream something in their area of expertise to your audience. You could even offer to trade live streams if your own expertise might be valuable to their followers.
For example, an employment organization could teach tips for job seekers, while a mental health organization could conduct a live on self-care practices — both topics would likely appeal to both audiences.
6. Do an Interview or Panel Discussion
Having a one-on-one interview or a moderated panel discussion is an excellent way to bring a variety of voices and opinions into the conversation and to have a more dynamic, engaging live video.
As an example, the Centre of Learning & Development in Toronto recently hosted a panel with different members of their team to talk about their mask initiative, and how they’re pivoting their sewing studio services during the global pandemic.
7+ Platforms You Can Use for Live Streaming
There are a number of platforms that have live streaming capabilities, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming when trying to figure out the differences. Here’s a brief overview of some of the main platforms. (And for more information on live streaming on social media, check out our full review here.)
Zoom has become a bit of a household name in recent months as one of the primary platforms for meetings, webinars, or live events. While there have been some concerns about security, Zoom is a great option with a freemium plan capable of hosting up to 100 participants as well as paid plans for larger events and the ability to broadcast your video to Facebook Live or YouTube Live.
Google Meet is another free option to host live video streaming, and from now until September 30, 2020, G Suite customers can access the advanced features for free, including hosting meetings with up to 250 full guests, or up to 100,000 view-only guests (just be mindful of your bandwidth!). Google Meets are hosted directly in your browser, meaning users don’t need to download any additional software, and integrate with Google Calendar for easy scheduling and reminders.
While you might be familiar with Vimeo for their video hosting software, they also offer live streaming. In order to live stream with Vimeo, you need to be on their premium plan which, at $75/month, is a little more expensive than some of the other options on this list. If you already have a paid Vimeo account though, this could be a good option to look into.
WebinarJam is one of the most recommended broadcasting platforms by marketing experts for its user-friendly interface, social media integrations, and additional features. The basic plan starts at $499/year for up to 500 attendees, but if you plan on hosting regular, professional live video events for your audience, it’s definitely worth the investment.
GoToWebinar is one of the pricier options out there, with an impressive array of features and analytics meant to support large organizations and events via webinars and webcasts. Some of our favourite features include GoToWebinar’s built-in promotional tools, like its full-service registration, CRM software, and automated email marketing.
Webex (built by Cisco) is another powerful tool for hosting both interactive webinars and large-scale virtual events. It’s a cloud-based platform with HD video and audio capabilities as well as full event planning and management. Although it’s better known as a software tool for remote team collaboration, Webex Events can host up to 3000 participants, and Webex Webcasting up to 100,000, so if you’re interested in hosting something of that size, it’s definitely not to be ignored.
ClickMeeting is an easy-to-use platform for small- to medium-sized organizations looking for a more intimate, interactive live streaming experience. They prioritize online education and training features like polls, surveys, and whiteboards, and their higher-end plans offer automatic streaming to Facebook Live and YouTube Live. The introductory plan starts at $25/month for up to 25 attendees (billed annually) and prices increase from there.
Bonus: Other tools for multi-streaming to social media
While we recommend starting small, if you want to stream to multiple places simultaneously, there are a few third-party social media streaming tools available to you. If you’re interested in multi-streaming, check out Restream, OBS, and Castr to start.
However you go about it, live video streaming can be a powerful means to communicate with your audience, especially during this challenging season.
We hope these tips helped you plan for your next live video — feel free to tag us when you use them so we can follow along with the fun!