6 Ways Nonprofits Are Using Instagram To Grow Their Community

Jeannie Chan
Jeannie Chan

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing app that has grown in popularity in recent years. With over 200 million users, Instagram offers nonprofits another way to engage with our communities. While Instagram does allow users to upload video and includes the Instagram Stories feature, photography is the primary content vehicle, nonprofits have found a lot of creative ways to use pictures to say a thousand words.

With limited budgets, nonprofits have the unique challenge of making the most out of everything. In this case, Instagram delivers. Based on a recent survey Instagram delivers the highest level of engagement, which means that when nonprofits are using Instagram well, they’re building their community.

While Instagram may not be the largest social media platform, this is truly a case where quality may win over quantity. Through the following examples, you’ll learn 6 ways nonprofits are using Instagram to grow their community, and how you can use the same principles to improve your nonprofit’s Instagram strategy.

1) Show Impact

Neverthirst is an organization that provides clear water to Indian and Cambodian communities, and in the photo above, they show you an example of what the water looks like before they provide help and what it looks like after they’ve run it through their filters. This coupled with the text overlay and the caption that indicates impact helps to put an image in the mind of their audience of the impact they created.

Sharing before and after photos is one of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram because it provides an opportunity for nonprofits to show how they’re making a difference while also building trust with their community. Donors love seeing examples of how their dollars are being put into action.

2) Peek Behind-The-Scene

Sharing photos from behind-the-scenes is one of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram. Everyone wants to be an insider. Everyone wants to be backstage, and Instagram is a great way for you to show your community just how much work goes behind each success story.

“Sharing photos from behind-the-scenes is one of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram…” tweet this

It takes a lot of work to do what you do every day. To you, it may not seem special. But to your community, it can be a fascinating story that helps them imagine what it’s like to work in the trenches at a nonprofit. Share the inner workings of your organization like the post above by posting pictures showcasing those who work at your nonprofit, like a planning meeting or event supply shopping trips.

Even pictures like your inventory of supplies or the size of your office (large or small) give your community a sense of how you make it work every day.

3) Share Event Photos

Sharing event photos is one of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram to connect with their community because while not everyone will be able to join you at your event, you can still include them in the experience. You can even share photos as the event unfolds in real-time, so your community can really get a taste of what’s happening.

Posts like the one from Autism Science Foundation provide a sneak-peek into an event, which can help inspire people to learn more about upcoming events and get involved next time.

4) Call To Action

Another reminder that sharks and rays need our help. We have a chance to have our voices heard. Support vote YES at CITIES #CoP17 for the survival of 13 different species of sharks and rays. In less than a month time CITIES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) will decide. CITES is a voluntary international agreement between governments which aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Join the #Divers4SharksNRays from Project AWARE Foundation movement and share your picture for support. @neptunic_instagram thank you for your continue support. #explore #experience #share #sharklife #sharkambassador #protectsharks #divers4sharksnrays #livethelifeyoulove #bahamas #haveyourvoiceheard @projectaware @paditv @waterproofinternational @scubapro @chris2water image

A photo posted by Cristina Zenato (@cristinazenato) on

Whether it’s for a fundraising campaign or a petition, asking your Instagram followers to take action for your cause through the images you post is one of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram to grow their community.

While these “salesy” types of posts should only make up 20% of your social media strategy, they can certainly pack a powerful punch to encourage your community to engage in your cause. You can include your call to action in the photo caption, edit the photo to include text, take a picture with a sign that encourages action, or all of the above.

Apps such as Over help you easily add text to your pictures, but this feature is also available with Instagram Stories. However, don’t lose sight that Instagram is a photo-sharing app. So, your text needs to be short and aesthetically pleasing. A novel in fine prints probably would not work well in this channel.

5) Distribution Of Content

Blog post is up all about @humblehilo #nominetwork #shopnomi

A photo posted by Nomi Network (@nominetworknyc) on

Instagram can be used to help spread the word about content that has been created for other channels and distribute it to a new audience. With a little creativity, a lot of your existing materials can be adapted for Instagram.

“Instagram can be used to help spread the word about content that has been created for other channels…” tweet this

Here are a few ideas on how you can use Instagram to distribute your other content:

  • Create a short Instagram teaser trailer for your nonprofit’s video
  • Post an image that represents a larger piece of content created, like a blog post
  • Share a picture of an event flyer or invitation
  • Include an infographic that leads people to your website’s “our work” page
  • Showcase items from a fundraising sale, auction, or perks-based campaign

Don’t forget to provide a link in the bio to send your audience to as a next step, if it’s appropriate.

6. Hold Photo Contests

One of the best ways nonprofits are using Instagram photo-sharing campaigns and contests. This engages your followers to share photos right alongside with you, which helps show your followers you’re interested in them and helps make the donor the hero of the cause. Additionally, when your donors become more involved and share posts for your organization, they’re also vouching for your organization to their entire network of friends, increasing your reach exponentially.

Creating a photo contest also encourages your audience to use hashtags, helping your nonprofit see what’s really happening in the community. Pictures that are posted by your community really help to humanize your cause.

These are only a few of the many ways nonprofits are using Instagram. The possibilities are endless. The examples above show that with just a bit of effort and a little creativity, Instagram can turn simple images into new social content that drives engagement. This makes Instagram an easy platform to adopt as another way to reach and engage your community.

“With a bit of effort and creativity, Instagram can turn simple images into content that drives engagement…” tweet this

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