Instagram Stories Update: What Nonprofits Need To Know

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

I have to admit that I’m absolutely obsessed with Instagram. Aside from using it to keep up with friends and family, over the past year or so, I have found myself following numerous nonprofits and businesses that I feel connected to.

And, that’s exactly what nonprofits and businesses are hoping for! They want their most loyal customers and donors to follow and engage with them on this social media platform. I love seeing photos of happy, smiling customers on Chaco footwear’s Instagram page, and when I head to MANNA Foodbank’s page, I see pictures of their warehouse, focused employees, and engaged volunteers and it encourages me to get involved.

Fuge Summer Campers sorting potatoes in the Volunteer Center today! Happy summer y’all.

A photo posted by MANNA FoodBank (@manna_foodbank) on

These organizations are using Instagram to put a face behind their organization, and it works!

And that’s why I’m so excited about Instagram stories! Aside from it being a fun, exciting added feature to an already great site, Instagram Stories is actually going to benefit your organization.

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Let’s dissect the basics of Instagram Stories so you can get started using this new feature right away!

What Are Instagram Stories?

Instagram has taken all the features that were awesome and unique about Snapchat and packaged them into what is now Instagram Stories.

In a nutshell, Instagram Stories are customizable slideshows that your Instagram followers can view. These “stories” are composed of both pictures and videos that are automatically erased after 24 hours.

With Instagram Stories, you can upload and/or take photos and videos, adjust the filter, and add text and doodles. You’ll also be able to see those that viewed your story and block it from certain users.

Instagram Stories

How Will Instagram Stories Help Your Nonprofit?

Think of Instagram Stories as a new way to tell your nonprofit story and get people to rally around your cause.

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Up until now, you probably used Instagram to show the beautiful, polished, professional side of your nonprofit. Because users don’t often post picture after picture on Instagram like they do on platforms like Facebook, each Instagram post feels like it carries extra weight.

In a way, if you’re posting something on Instagram, you are using it as a meaningful (usually unblemished) representation of your nonprofit.

And that’s the beauty of Instagram Stories. You can still put your “best foot forward” with your normal Instagram pictures, while supplementing with more relaxed (and possibly a bit goofy) stories.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Capture images of your volunteers hard at work during your next volunteer opportunity. Adorn these pictures with doodles
  • Give your followers a behind the scenes look at your organization, by featuring your employees, office space, campaign headquarters, etc. Kick it up a notch by highlighting someone’s messy desk, weird lunch, or ridiculous hairstyle.
  • Post a video of clients/service recipients during a happy moment.
  • Organizing a special event? Put together a slideshow showing before and after pictures.
  • Cross promote to your other social media networks. For example, charity:water recently used Instagram Stories to advertise an upcoming Facebook Live session.

How Do You Get Started?

If you’re already familiar with Instagram and/or Snapchat, then using Instagram Stories will be second nature to you.

  1. First, upload the most recent Instagram update.
  2. Once you open the app, you’ll now notice a + sign at the top left corner. Click on it.
  3. Then, take some cool pictures.
  4. Or, if you prefer, add photos, videos, and even Boomerangs that you’ve taken over the past 24 hours by clicking on the + sign and then swiping down on that camera screen.
  5. Decorate each picture however you prefer with doodles or text. Then select “Done” on top right.
  6. To save the image, select the save (down arrow) button on the bottom right.
  7. To add the image to your story, select the check mark.
  8. Once you’ve uploaded your story, select the three dotted line on the bottom right of your screen. Here, you can delete your post, share it (as a post on the regular Instagram feed), save it, or modify your settings (including hiding your story from certain followers and allowing message replies).
Instagram Stories
charity:water Instagram Story

You’re sharing your nonprofit story in many ways such as through email, your website, and social media. These stories are what draw people to your cause, motivate them to give and encourage them to get involved.

You relay serious messages about need, like the need for donations and need for volunteers. You share client stories- some happy, some hopeful, some sad. And ever so often, you get to give your audience a glimpse of not just what you do, but who you are- something that connects them not just to your cause, but the reason why you do what you do.

Instagram Stories is a superb new tool that you can use to show this special, human side of your organization.

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