YouTube Cards for Nonprofits

Social Media

You might have heard of YouTube Annotations: clickable text overlays on YouTube videos. They were used to boost engagement, give more information, and make navigation easier. But move over annotations, YouTube’s new Cards system is even better.
YouTube Cards work on both desktop and mobile and can inform your viewers about other videos, merchandise, playlists, websites and more. The cards are similar to annotations, in that they provide the users with additional information; however, these cards are more interactive and mobile-friendly and include custom images, titles and call-to-action text.
The cards allow the creator to add outside links and images related to the video. Cards can be inserted at anytime throughout a clip. Unlike annotations, these cards do not pop out randomly, you have to click on the “info” symbol to view more of the cards content, allowing viewers to opt in. There are currently six card types to choose from.


The merchandise card is similar to the existing Merch annotations (they provide creators a way to promote their licensed merchandise directly in their videos). Merchandise cards can promote goods directly from the video. You are only able to promote approved URLs. This can help Nonprofits direct viewers to online campaign pages or your organization’s online store.


Similar to the fundraising annotations, fundraising cards can link viewers directly to projects on whitelisted fundraising sites. If your nonprofit runs campaigns on crowdfunding or donation sites, this option might be a perfect way to turn video views into donation dollars. We recommend tying the video content to the fundraising campaign concept as tightly as you can.


This card can link to another public YouTube video or playlist which may interest the viewer of the current video. You can also link to a specific time in a video or to an individual video in a playlist by entering a video or playlist URL directly. This is perfect for linking videos in a series or grouping videos around a theme to keep visitors around longer. Think about tying together a training series or linking to partner videos as a way to build relationships.


This YouTube card provides creators a way to link to their associated websites directly from their videos.
To create an Associated Website card, first you need to complete these steps:

  1. Make sure your account is verified and in good standing before adding an associated website.
  2. Add your website as an associate website in the Search Console. This will allow you to confirm that you own the site before you link it to your YouTube account.
  3. Include this website as the “Associated Website” in your YouTube account.

This card is a great way to drive traffic to conversion pages on your website from videos. Make sure you’re sending users to pages where they can take meaningful actions on your site, such as a newsletter signup page, a donation page, or a campaign page.


Link to a channel that you’d like to call out to your viewers. For example, you can use this type of card to thank the channel for their contribution to your video or for a general recommendation. If you have multiple brands or partner organizations, this is a great way to keep them connected.


This YouTube card lets your fans show their appreciation for your videos, by making a monetary contribution directly on the video page. You cannot receive Fan Funding payments without first creating a Google Wallet Merchant account and linking your channel to it.
To be eligible for Fan Funding, you must meet these requirements:

  • Your account is in good standing.
  • You meet the general criteria for YouTube partnership
  • You have verified your account by phone
  • If you’re in a network, your network is enabled for Fan Funding
  • You have an approved AdSense account linked to your YouTube account.
  • You are located in one of these countries:
    • Australia (AU)
    • Japan (JP)
    • Mexico (MX)
    • United States (US)
  • Only viewers in the countries listed above will be able to support you.

This card might not make as much sense for nonprofits, since it’s designed more for solo Youtube celebrities. Try the Fundraising card first.

The Jury is Out

YouTube cards still can’t quite do everything annotations could. You can’t choose their size or exactly where to put them, for instance (they all show up on the right edge), they’re limited to five per video, they are a set length and you can’t set your own colors. But now that annotations are defunct, they’re the best option for getting meaningful conversions on your videos.
Youtube has also introduced an End Screen section to replace the previous annotation layout. This mobile-friendly Youtube element links to other videos and playlists, as well as subscribe buttons. Moreover, these annotations are easy to move around within a set box that Youtube provides.
The “Subscribe” button and website link annotation are not adjustable in size, and default in circle and square, respectively. Unfortunately, the new version of annotations can only be added during the last 20 seconds of the videos. However, within those last 20 seconds, the length of the annotations can be adjusted, so there are pros and cons.
YouTube has not historically been a great traffic-driver to websites – people like to stick around and watch more videos, and YouTube designed it that way because it likes to keep people on its platform for as long as possible. But with YouTube Cards, there are lots more possibilities. Experiment and see what works for your organization! And be sure to check out more ways to maximize your video views and engagement.
Have a YouTube Cards success story? Horror story? Plain old story? Tweet at us, we’d love to hear how other organizations are using them!

Want to learn more about YouTube for nonprofits? Check out our Whole Whale University course! We’ll teach you how to use social media tools for social impact and become your own social media expert.