Websites like and allow individuals and brands to launch their own Web-based “TV” channels. Currently, these channels can not easily be viewed on the digital TV sets in our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, but it’s just a matter of time. Think about that for a second. Nonprofits will soon be broadcasting their own live TV programs to households around the world simply with a Ustream channel and a smartphone.

The current technology of live-streaming on the Web has been around for a few years, but only recently with the launch of smartphone Apps that convert phones into video cameras and social media integration, has the technology started to reach mass adoption by Web users (its up 600% in the last year!). Very few nonprofits are currently streaming live programs on Web-based TV channels and if there is one thing I have learned in 15 years of online communications for nonprofits, it’s the early adopters that always win big. Start building your channel and live-streaming communities now. Those nonprofits that do will be the best positioned to be successful at Web television.

The steps below will help you create a broadcast TV channel for your nonprofit on Ustream (see Stand Up To Cancer’s Channel). also gets good reviews and initially I was going to use for Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Live!, but after four hours of testing and coming up against numerous brick walls and errors on (primarily with their Facebook and iPhone Apps), I went with Ustream. A lot of tech hipsters prefer and I wanted to be one of them, but I do find Ustream to be much easier to navigate. It has a clean, neat user-interface and I encountered zero issues with their iPhone App. Unfortunately, Ustream’s Facebook App is limited to brands with large numbers of viewers. More on that below:

1) Sign up and create your profile on Ustream.

Your username becomes your Ustream Channel URL, so choose wisely. Ideally, it should match your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Foursquare URLs. For example,

Next, under “Account Settings”  upload a brief “Bio” i.e, summary of your organization and a profile picture. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Foursquare, this image should be rectangular, not square. I don’t not suggest that you “Connect” your Ustream accounts with Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. When you are ready to broadcast, simply posts links to your “Show” [see below] to your social networking communities.

2) Create your first “Show”.

In your Dashboard on the right select the “Create a Show” button. To begin, I would suggest either adding “Live!” to the end of your organization’s name, or “TV” for your first show name. For example, “Red Cross Live!” or “Red Cross TV”. Important: The name of your show also becomes your “Channel ID” which becomes important later when you add Ustream to your Facebook Page. Additionally, the show name also serves as the “Chat Topic” in your show. Neither of these things can be changed later, so put some thought into naming your show(s).

Next, choose a “Category”. Unfortunately, there is no “Nonprofit” [#?!] category so simply choose what you think fits your organization best. Then add “Show Tags” that speak to your organization’s work. If your are a local organization, add your city and state. Definitely add “nonprofit” and “charity”. You also need to add a “Show Image” and a brief description of what your show is about. I’ll save you a lot of time by letting you know that I found out through trial and error that the show image should be 300 pixels X 235 pixels. This image is what will be displayed when you are offline. See example:

Finally, design your show page. Go to your Dashboard > Manage Your Show > Design. It took me a few attempts to figure this out, but I suggest: 1) Select “Theme 4” with the white and light blue stripes; 2) Then select “I want to customize my theme” and check “Use no background image”. This deletes the blue and white stripes, but keeps the white background inside of your show which you can’t customize yourself. 3) Add the 6-digit web color codes of your logo for the background and links. Keep text black.

3) Download the Ustream smartphone Apps.

I can not say this enough… key communications and development staff at nonprofits should be investing in smartphones! That becomes amazing clear when you use the Ustream Apps to broadcast live from anywhere at anytime. Amazing technology! They have iPhone and Android Apps. I repeat. You do not need to invest in a video camera or microphone to live-stream from location (protests, conferences, Capitol Hill, etc.). These free Apps convert your smartphone into video recorders and live-streaming devices. Nothing short of amazing the first time you use it.

4) Download the My Ustream Facebook Page App or Apply for the Official Ustream Facebook Page App.

Ustream had an official Facebook App for everyone’s use, but it no longer works and there is no mention of it on their site even though it still shows up in an App Search on Facebook. It appears as though they have pulled the App, and instead  have chosen to request applications for their Facebook Page App from celebrities and brands with “large audiences”, like Selena Gomez. I plan applying in October when I have more time and I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meatime, there is the unofficial My Ustream App that does allow you to broadcast directly to your organization’s Facebook Page. Facebook users do not need to download an App to view your live broadcasts. You can add a banner image (which I have not done yet), but unfortunately the developers of this App have not yet re-sized their App to be compatible with the new 520 pixel-width Facebook Page Tabs. See: In short, for small to medium-sized nonprofits that don’t have large audiences, the Facebook App options aren’t great.

5) Start broadcasting!

I’ll be experimenting over the next few months from conferences and events I am speaking at, and in January I plan to launch monthly Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Live! broadcasts about social media, mobile technology and nonprofits. Experiment with me! Most laptops have a camera in them already, so you’ll just need to get a microphone to start broadcasting. I am using an iPhone to broadcast live and it is as easy as point and click. Join “My Crowd” and I’ll join yours in return, and over the next few months we’ll figure out Ustream together. One the creative juices get flowing, the possibilities are mind-boggling. 🙂