How to Use Instagram to Spread Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Guest post by Kayla Matthews. 

While traditional methods of volunteer recruitment and fundraising remain effective, technology has allowed nonprofits to innovate new ways to attract supporters to their cause. Organizations have expanded on their previous efforts by adopting new strategies, and social media is no exception.

With its ability to capture the attention of individuals across generations, social media helps nonprofits reach their fundraising and recruitment goals in the digital age.

Instagram has become an increasingly popular choice among nonprofits, and the data supports its efficacy. In fact, approximately 26% of Instagram users earn more than $75,000 per year, and 75% take action after seeing an advertisement on the platform. If you want to recruit more volunteers or raise more money in 2019, Instagram seems like a smart choice.

Let’s take a look at how to use the platform to its full advantage. With an overview of marketing tactics and case studies from other organizations, you’ll have a more informed understanding of Instagram moving forward – from the best ways to spread your message to volunteer recruitment and retention techniques.

Create and Optimize a Business Account

Even if you haven’t used Instagram in the past, you’ll find that creating and optimizing a business account is a simple process. Just download the app, sign up with your business email address or Facebook account and find the settings tab. Next, scroll down and select the ‘Switch to Business Account’ option, then enter your information.

Distinct from a personal account in its functionality, a business account comes with special tools available to companies and organizations. You’ll have access to performance metrics like engagement, impressions and reach to monitor the success of your most popular posts, helping you gather valuable data you can reference when creating new content or refining your strategy.

For now, it’s best to ensure you have a solid foundation on which to build. Align your username and profile picture with those of your other social media accounts for discoverability and write a brief description of your organization in the bio. Beneath this text, link to a page where you’d like to see an increase in traffic, such as your organization’s website or a campaign landing page.

After you’ve followed other nonprofits and relevant individuals, you can move forward with planning your approach to content.

Develop a Unique Content Strategy

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that’s applicable to every nonprofit. Your organization has a unique message and cause and, therefore, requires a unique approach. When developing your strategy, your goal is to share images that will catch the eye of someone scrolling through their feed, drawing them to your content and message.

Here are three simple tactics that you can implement that will net your nonprofit the attention it deserves.

1. Maintain Visual Consistency

An Instagram user should recognize your content for its distinct aesthetic, which goes beyond the professional quality of the photography. To achieve and maintain visual consistency across all your posts, you can choose from one of the app’s many native filters or use a photo editing app and apply the same effect to each new picture before you upload.

Earth Rights employs this technique on their pictures to incredible effect. They use effects and filters to enhance their content and maintain visual consistency throughout their profile. Notice that they don’t dramatically alter the appearance of their photographs, but instead subtly adjust them to work off their strengths.

2. Circulate Memorable Hashtags

Task the creatives in your organization with brainstorming a memorable hashtag. You can use this hashtag to draw more attention to your posts and drive engagement. Remember to keep it short and consistent, preferably even across social platforms.

To Write Love On Her Arms proved the value of a strong hashtag. Their #TankTopTuesday movement earned over 9,000 views and prompted a discussion about depression and self-harm. It also offered viewers a platform where they could participate and share their story or show their solidarity for the organization’s cause.

3. Use the Power of Empathy

People remember stories and images they connect with emotionally. To increase engagement on Instagram, share pictures that evoke strong feelings. If your organization’s mission seeks to eliminate the inhumane treatment of animals, for instance, images of happily rescued dogs or cats would be a powerful choice.

World Bicycle Relief does a great job of evoking feelings of optimism and hope in their followers. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of living in rural areas in Africa, they showcase the positive impact they’ve had on the people they serve. And their strategy has really resonated with their followers!

Attract and Recruit Volunteers

It’ll take time and frequent adjustments to figure out what content works best for your organization, but you’ll eventually find the right balance. After you’ve settled on a pattern that works, it’s time to think about leveraging the attention you’re getting to meet your volunteer recruitment goals!

Some of your posts should show enthusiastic volunteers contributing to your cause and working together toward a common goal. These pictures and videos should reflect a sense of community and show your followers what it’s like to be a part of your organization.

You can even use Instagram as a tool to help recognize and reward existing volunteers. Shoutouts and featuring stories of impact from hard-working volunteers at your organization, for example, can show how valued and integral your volunteers are to your organization’s mission. Promoting volunteers on your Instagram’s feed can also highlight your nonprofit’s culture and convince more prospective volunteers to sign up!

Using compelling copy in the caption is also important. Roots and Shoots, a project of the Jane Goodall Institute, uses its Instagram account to recruit new volunteers with their friendly and persuasive captions. Their tone is light and energetic, not pushy or demanding. In a few short sentences, they convey their message and show the reader where they can learn more.

To take full advantage of Instagram’s capacity as a recruitment tool, follow the example that Roots and Shoots set. Use pictures and videos of happy volunteers to attract initial attention and make sure your tone and language match the mood you’re trying to convey. When you’re satisfied with the copy, end with a compelling call to action.

The Many Possibilities of Instagram

You have no shortage of options in how you choose to share your organization’s mission with the world, regardless of the cause you’re advancing. With the power of Instagram, you can share your message with a broader audience, attract new supporters, communicate with followers directly, compel them to take action, keep them up-to-date with your work and much more.

Instagram has dozens of marketing applications, so why not start using it for your nonprofit?