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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Video streaming services

For when you want a dynamic and engaging way to give information in either live or pre-recorded form. Many people prefer to watch videos than read words on a website.

What they do

Video streaming is what happens when a user watches a video on the internet without downloading it.

You can make a video by:

  • Filming with a camera or smartphone
  • Using your computer’s camera and microphone to record you speaking
  • Recording your screen’s activity

Then you either:

  • Live stream it directly onto the internet in real-time, or
  • Edit what you recorded using your computer or mobile device, adding music, slides, captions and even other video content. Then you upload it to the internet for people to view anytime.

People can watch videos on any computer or smart device. All video platforms integrate with social media platforms and embed into websites.

Each video and livestream generates a link which can be shared with your potential viewers using messenger services and other digital tools.

Many video platforms allow viewers to interact with others in a comments section underneath the video.

Popular platforms

There are hundreds of video platforms. Some specialise in live streaming, some do both, and some only show pre-recorded videos uploaded by users.

  • Twitch (live)
  • Facebook Live (live)
  • Instagram Live (live)
  • Youtube (live and pre-recorded)
  • Vimeo (live and pre-recorded)

Things to consider

Making a service more real

Videos reassure and engage users when you can’t be there to talk with them. Think about how you could use videos to complement your service. Pre-recorded videos on your website can introduce services and make your people more real.

Live streaming on social media humanises your service and takes you closer to your users. It’s also an easy way to invite participation (e.g. by running a Q&A session) and doesn’t rely on people having to be there at the start.

Video length

People prefer to watch short pre-recorded videos (1-2 mins). Long videos work best only when you are confident that people want either:

  • More depth and detail on the subject (e.g. where you share expert knowledge or give a ‘how to’ guide for a complex task)
  • To follow a story (e.g. a film or TV show).

Live streaming is different because people can join and leave at any time during the video.

Reaching your users

People won’t watch if you don’t put your video in the right place and explain why they should press the play button. It’s important to think carefully about its location, title and description. You might promote it differently on social media to how you present it on your website.

Privacy and consent

It’s important to gain consent from anyone appearing in your video. Online forms can help you do this. People may not comment or ‘like’ your video because they prefer to remain anonymous.

You might decide to turn off comments on your video to prevent troll comments appearing.


People don’t expect high production quality if a video’s content feels helpful, sincere and caring. These things can be easily conveyed by tone of voice, facial expressions and open body language.

Suitable recording devices are smartphone cameras and computer webcams. Simple editing software exists for phone and computer. Some video streaming platforms have built-in editing software. Editing isn’t always even necessary.

Charities using this tool

Scottish Book Trust have produced a guide for staff delivering bookbug sessions online during the Coronavirus lockdown

Fight for Peace coaches delivering personal development sessions and workouts over Instagram live.

Rosyth Eats post short how to videos on youtube to accompany their EasyEats meal bags

Last modified on 26 July 2022
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