From 40K to 4 Million Monthly Views: How I Grew My Nonprofit YouTube Channel



For the last few years, I was thrilled with the performance of Invisible People’s YouTube channel. With a focus on homelessness education, an average of 40,000 monthly views was a miracle, or so I thought.

After joining Patreon [ a few months back, I began paying more attention to YouTube. The lightbulb really went off when I typed “homeless” into the YouTube search bar. All that came up was prank videos and other awful content so far from the truth about homelessness.

Invisible People undoubtedly has more videos from homeless people than any other content creator. Yet none of my videos were showing in search with the keyword “homeless.” That was a problem!

Inspired and armed with TubeBuddy [ I began implementing changes to my existing catalog of 876 YouTube videos. I updated 20 videos every morning while drinking my first cups of coffee. If I had a moment of time throughout the day, I would update more.

It took YouTube’s algorithm a few weeks to catchup to my changes, but the results have been dramatic. From 40,000 views every month to now more than 4 million views every month! And that isn’t even the most amazing part. Our average view duration is 2:41 – almost 3 minutes! That means more than four million people watch at least 3 minutes of our videos EVERY MONTH!

Our channel has generated high views before, but traffic was always just a spike after a media hit. The biggest was on August 22, 2010. YouTube allowed Invisible People to curate the content for their homepage on that day. Approximately 1.6 million people had a positive interaction with homelessness that day, people who may never have rolled down their window at an exit ramp to ask a homeless person their story.

With the changes I implemented, we now reach millions of people every month instead of just an occasional spike.

Put in the Effort

The irony is the changes that influenced this dramatic growth are things I have been telling other nonprofits to do for years.

Here’s what I know. For success on YouTube, you need to produce quality content that your audience actually wants to watch. This is above everything else. Then comes your video title and thumbnail – these are extremely important if you want your videos to get noticed. Next step, add a description and the proper tags to help YouTube’s algorithm feed your videos to the right folks.

Nonprofits (and I am sure for-profits too) often upload a video and put zero effort into the title, thumbnail, description, and tags. Many will spend thousands of dollars on producing a video yet do little to make sure people find the video online.

The secret to YouTube growth is really no secret. You just have to put in a little effort in. OK, a lot of effort, but it’s worth it!

Invisible People’s focus is education and awareness, so the added growth increases impact. However, online donations have also increased behind the scenes. In June, Invisible People received more funding from private donors than we have in the last five years combined!

A Final Note

In my research to improve, I ran across a few YouTubers that had a dramatic influence on me. Roberto Blake’s channel [ got me thinking differently about creativity, production, and distribution. Derral Eves’s channel [ started me thinking about the mechanics behind the YouTube algorithm. Sara Dietschy’s channel [ gave me the inspiration to start vlogging.

Vlogging has helped to bring people along with me as I travel working to end homelessness. I am still experimenting with a format, but I have come to believe the YouTube and vlogging is always a work in progress. You can see some of my recent vlogs here [

________________________________________________

Subscribe here:

Invisible People’s website:

Support Invisible People:

On Patreon:

Invisible People’s Social Media:

Mark Horvath’s Twitter:

About Invisible People:

Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore.

Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way we think about people experiencing homelessness.

About the author

wearecephalization

38 Comments

  • I love your videos. I'm a 45 year old man and I get choked up listening to people's stories. I want to do what you do.

  • Situations such as homelessness needs to be pointed out;all too often it's overlooked, especially among our veterans.

  • You're on the street interviews have been really compelling. I've been subscribed for a long time now. However, with only 47K subscribers I suspect your views are a short term thing from traffic being driven to your videos from either some news articles or some famous person.

  • I also started watching your videos around May-June, I saw one running in a feed in the sidebar. I really enjoy how you interview people and I think it's important to showcase this situation. Have you noticed that every one that you've asked "if you could have three wishes what would they be?", have you noticed every one tears up a bit. Great channel and congratulations. I do hope that more churches would take in those folks who are homeless.

  • I prefer vids that are 5-6 minutes. I often feel unsatisfied with the 3 minute vids and want to know more about the person.

  • I stumbled across your channel a few months ago but this past month, I've been watching mostly all your your videos! As someone that was homeless in the past, I love what your doing here! (I now own my own home and just celebrated 4 years clean off heroin and opiates!) Today my sister and I took out Grandma to a baseball game in Seattle, Wa. On the way home we couldn't help but see numerous tents and homeless people which sparked up a conversation. Because of your channel, I was able to explain to my sister and 91 year old Granny that not all homeless are on drugs! There are many different reasons that can lead ANYONE into not having a home. Thank you for telling these peoples stories! Keep up the great work!

  • hey just wanted to let you know I love what you're doing, this is the most amazing and inspiring channel. Thank you xo from Amsterdam

  • hey thanks for inspiring me to do the same thing! How did you start doing this and what advice would you give to someone doing the same thing, that is, increasing awareness of homelessness via youtube?

  • Your videos are essential in casting light on a very dark reality. Canada has its' lion's share of homeless individuals and families. Our community is a very supportive one where a large number of the citizens are actively involved in trying to ease the challenges of the less fortunate through social media, donations, food drives, job fairs, free education for those wanting to get into the trades, and other innovative initiatives. Another issue is; with the world becoming more automated, more people will be homeless, as their jobs disappear, due to automation. We are already seeing the impact. Governments are quickly re-assessing educational needs for future jobs, as so many professions are being taken over by machines. Love your videos.

  • Mark…May Our Precious Creator of Life bless you greatly for lovingly discussing the Homeless issue directly with the people who are going through this very challenging situation! I have listened to you interview so many Homeless people and your compassion for them comes out so eloquently!!! You are a very descent man and I gotts to Sai….it's very hard to find a white knight out in the real world….who Truly cares about Humanity!!!☺😊😄😇

  • Well done, you! I discovered your channel only some weeks ago, and have since watched your videos almost daily! They're really well made and I love to hear people's stories. Thank you for doing what you do, Mark! Making the invisible VISIBLE. Keep up the good work!

  • I found your channel about a month ago.  I live 10 minutes walking from a homeless shelter.  Many people in my building used to be homeless and can get free breakfast and dinner there.  I was never homeless, so I can't go there.  But I have heard they have had a bed bug infestation.  (We are top 5 in the nation for bed bugs).  I volunteer for a food pantry.  And today I'm going to another food pantry.

  • By the way, I did get to go to the food pantry.  I really like Lutheran Social Services food pantries.  They were really nice.  They let me take two chocolate bars thing.  They had a lot of food too, no bread though.  In Ohio we have good resources for people with mental illnesses (like me).  I was diagnosed in 2000.  I'm quite proud of the fact that I've had housing since 2010, same place (I was the third wave to move in, first in my actual apartment).  Before that I was in a group home, and before that I was in a nursing home for two years to regulate my medication (not a fun place).  They have supportive services here.  I have a housing voucher, it's by income.  I have a really good deal.  I'm really blessed.  Just watching the other stories, just reminds me of how close I could have gotten.  But my family is really supportive too.

  • Based on your experience with all of this, whats the number one way we can help the homeless? I guess it depends on the individual and their goals. I really appreciate your work.

  • I'm from Australia and i somehow came across this channel. I love it. I'm going to show my students at school on Monday.

  • I just discovered your videos a short time ago and really appreciate your efforts to humanize and support those that the world looks less than kindly upon. I am struggling with homelessness and securing employment myself and finding help is extremely difficult. It takes a toll mentally and physically, and it can be very difficult to find the energy and will to stay motivated. I want to be able to help others like me. no one should have to worry and fight for the.basics on a daily basis.

  • Hello again…I just posted in the fb group and noticed that my post showed up on my.news feed so I deleted it because I don't feel comfortable with people I know knowing about my situation. Is there a way to keep my posts private so that they only show within the group page?

  • I enjoy your video`s and really appreciate the effort to plough this furrow of life, From my viewing experience and in agreement with many You Tube comments, It`s perhaps better not to ask the homeless " If you had thee wishes, What would they be ? " But something more real world analytical like " Was there a nexus point in time that has funnelled you to this situation, And if so, Could you have changed it ? " Or " What`s the best or worst experience you have had while homeless ? That way, You may well get a more interesting personal stories and insight

  • The new algorythms prioritize channels that keep people on youtube. Do you have any idea how long it takes to watch all your videos and how often people come back. I haven't gotten there after 2 weeks. So this is one of the major reasons for your boost.

  • The guy who does the interviews needs to be more compassionate with the homeless people he interviews…all he does if say "yep" and on to the next question cutting off their answer….he's extremely rude!!

  • Hey.. you film all these homeless people.. so you get your youtube channel running.. but what about that people.. Do you help them? Do you tell them, that they should get their shit together and work on their lives.. no.. you just using them for you channel.. You film them like monkeys in a zoo.. What is you channel about.. Showing the problem.. who cares.. the problem is there.. no need to show it.. Change it.. Show a video where you change an invisible live.. not just film the monkeys in the zoo..

  • And also.. why do you interview.. young girls on the street.. and suddenly.. you tell them.. you are pretty.. WTF.. This is so creepy.. They could be your doughter.. You help nobody.. your channel is only about you getting attention.. You dont care about that people.. You live in your nice crib.. and do what.. share it.. oh no.. you just film the suckers and take the fame for you.. Shame on you

Leave a Comment