AWS Public Sector Blog

Creating a video storage and management system for your nonprofit

Nonprofit organizations are increasingly using videos to fundraise, raise awareness, and attract new members or donors. But storing large quantities of video has traditionally meant purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware, while cataloging large video collections has historically been a time-consuming task. Also, improving the accessibility of videos, such as by providing captions and translations, can require hours of hands-on, expert-level work.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) can help streamline multiple aspects of this video workflow. The Media2Cloud on AWS solution in the AWS Solutions Library can help nonprofit organizations store, catalog, and search their video libraries in a way that is cost-effective, and that scales to meet any need. In this blog post, learn how Media2Cloud works and how your organization can use it to support your video program.

How nonprofits can use Media2Cloud on AWS: An example use case

To better understand the nonprofit connection to the Media2Cloud solution, let’s explore how a nonprofit organization can benefit from using it through an example use case based in common nonprofit customer requirements.

A fictitious customer, the Example Educational Fund of AnyTown, supports schools in its area by organizing fundraising events and creating programs for students. The Fund accumulated over 10TB of video footage from various events they’ve hosted over many years, such as fundraisers, trainings, recordings of board meetings, and more. They store these videos on a network attached storage (NAS) device located in their office and back up their NAS to Amazon Simple Storage Service Glacier (Amazon S3 Glacier) for archival purposes. The Fund organized and cataloged their media manually using a spreadsheet, which worked fine while the Fund only hosted an event or two every month. However, a change in the membership of the board led to a new set of priorities. The Fund started recording and releasing new content almost every day, making the spreadsheet-based cataloging process unsustainably time-consuming.

Plus, in preparation for their main fundraising drive, the Fund wanted to create a video collage to showcase the work they’ve done in local schools. However, they struggled to locate the right clips because their spreadsheet contained insufficient information about the videos they already recorded and a backlog of uncategorized videos. The Fund needed a new process for managing their video content.

By adopting the Media2Cloud solution on AWS, the Fund was able to create a robust media collection that automatically generates metadata for each video using machine learning (ML). The solution then catalogs the videos and their metadata. With the Media2Cloud solution, the Fund was able to quickly search for specific events to find exactly the right video clips to support their campaign.

Using Media2Cloud for nonprofits

Media2Cloud is an official AWS solution, developed by AWS engineers and solutions architects, and available in the AWS Solutions Library. It includes an AWS CloudFormation template, which you can use to quickly deploy all the components that make up the solution. This means that in about 30 minutes, you can launch a complete, cloud-based video ingestion, analysis, cataloging, and discovery platform.

The Media2Cloud solution is a serverless video ingestion workflow. In this case, serverless means that you can run the solution whenever you need it, without having to pay for, set up, or maintain servers or a network infrastructure. This solution improves the process of managing large quantities of video in several ways:

1. Browser-based interface streamlines uploading process

Media2Cloud deploys a simple-to-use web interface that you can use for uploading videos and related content. This means that you can upload all your videos without having to worry about storing it on-premises, and without having to manually maintain records that describe each piece of content. Figure 1 shows the video uploading user experience.

Figure 1. Users can drag and drop files into the Media2Cloud interface to upload them and begin the workflow.

Figure 1. Users can drag and drop files into the Media2Cloud interface to upload them and begin the workflow.

2. Automatically add captions to improve accessibility

Media2Cloud automatically extracts metadata from uploaded videos. It uses several Amazon Machine Learning services—including Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Transcribe, Amazon Comprehend, and Amazon Textract—to identify and catalog faces, on-screen text, key spoken phrases, and sentiment. Media2Cloud also uses machine learning to generate captions, making content more accessible. It can even automatically generate captions in languages other than the language that was originally spoken in the video. You can turn these features on and off as needed, so that you’re only charged for the services that you use. The web interface helps you monitor jobs that are in progress (Figure 2), and built-in notifications let you know when processing jobs are complete.

Figure 2. Monitor processing status for video uploads.

Figure 2. Monitor processing status for video uploads.

3. Enable search across video archive with a searchable database

The Media2Cloud solution creates a searchable database of the automatically extracted metadata. You can search and filter this metadata using the Media2Cloud web interface. For example, you can filter your videos to only include clips that feature specific board members, or clips that discuss a particular topic. An example of this filtering capability is shown in the following image.

Figure 3. The searchable database can identify videos with metadata that matches search terms.

Figure 3. The searchable database can identify videos with metadata that matches search terms.

4. Automatically optimize for analysis and storage

The Media2Cloud solution also has several helpful, behind-the-scenes features. The Media2Cloud solution automatically creates a proxy (a much smaller copy of the video) for each video you upload. Using proxy videos is helpful because smaller files are processed faster than larger ones, and require less computing power to complete. Because AWS charges based on the amount of computing power that you use and the duration for which you use it, using proxy files also reduces costs. Finally, the Media2Cloud solution also automatically moves content between Amazon S3 storage tiers. For example, the legacy content that the Example Educational Fund of Anytown stored in Amazon S3 Glacier would automatically move to a high-throughput storage tier for analysis. When the analysis is complete, Media2Cloud moves it back to the more cost-effective Amazon S3 Glacier.

5. Machine learning capabilities support creative flexibility

Another advantage of using the Media2Cloud solution is its flexibility. For example, you can use Amazon Rekognition Custom Labels to build machine learning models that identify unique objects. Returning to our example customer, let’s imagine that the Educational Fund has been asked by the schools it represents to create custom videos that contain each school’s mascot or logo. With Amazon Rekognition Custom Labels, the Fund can identify and search for all the video clips for a given school, streamlining the content creation process. Of course, not every organization has the time or resources to train ML models. For that reason, AWS identified several AWS Partners who are certified to work with Media2Cloud. These companies help reduce the time-to-implementation, letting nonprofit organizations focus on their main objective: advancing their missions.


The Media2Cloud solution on AWS can help nonprofit organizations of any size create a streamlined system for storing, analyzing, cataloging, and finding video content.

If your nonprofit has videos, images, audio files, or documents that could benefit from better analysis and organization, check out Media2Cloud version 3.0. Reach out to your AWS account manager to learn more, or contact the AWS Public Sector Team to get started with AWS. You can also complete the steps in the Implementation Guide to create the workflow in your own AWS account.

Watch the demo video to see Media2Cloud in action:

Read more about AWS for nonprofits:

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