10 Ways to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

10 Ways to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

By Julia Campbell

Instagram is growing rapidly, with 26 percent of adults now using the social media network. Yet, only a few nonprofits include Instagram in their social media strategy…and even fewer use it properly.   

Here are 10 ways that you can use Instagram for your nonprofit visual storytelling:

  1. Post eye-catching, colorful photos.

The only way to cut through the clutter and grab attention on Instagram is with great photos. Photos that feature people in small groups, action shots, interesting angles, and bright, colorful backgrounds work best and get the most engagement.

colorful photos


  1. Write great captions.

Captions are incredibly important when building a community on Instagram. Use emojis to add some flair. Put the most important words and information up front, knowing that on mobile devices the caption is cut off after three lines.

Write great captions


  1. Use hashtags strategically.

Hashtags are a great way to search for new information and new accounts to follow on Instagram, and also a perfect way to be found by new potential supporters. Use hashtags strategically but seeing what others in your industry and around your cause are using. Take a look at what your audience is posting and sharing and what hashtags are trending.

Use hashtags strategically


  1. Update your followers on online fundraising campaigns.

Tell your Instagram followers about your online fundraising campaigns! Provide frequent updates on your progress, and let them know how much still needs to be raised.

online fundraising campaigns


  1. Showcase your mission.

A photo speaks 1000 words, but a caption explaining your mission and why you do the work that you do works wonderfully on Instagram. Showcase your mission and the beneficiaries.

Showcase your mission


  1. Go behind-the-scenes with your Executive Director.

People like to connect with people on social media accounts. Give your followers a glimpse into the life and work of your Executive Director. Make them feel like they are sharing an exclusive, intimate moment.



  1. Re-post and share user-generated content.

Share photos and videos taken by your fans, followers, and supporters. They are your best ambassadors. (Always ask permission when doing this!)

share user-generated content


  1. Insert CTAs in the captions.

Insert your call to action right in the caption. Double tap/like – get more engagement. Click on the link in bio – take them to your website or online fundraising campaign page. People are more likely to take an action when asked directly.

call to action


  1. Participate in social media trends.

For example, the #2016BestNine was a popular hashtag – finding and sharing the 9 most popular photos that you posted in 2016 in a collage format. Another very popular trend is #ThrowbackThursday/#TBT where social media accounts dig into their photo archives for fun and entertaining pictures to post.

social media trends


  1. Post videos!

Video is the most popular type of content across social media platforms. Instagram video lets you post a 60 second video, which you can upload to the app or take directly within the app. Post short videos in the field, at meetings and events, and to announce a milestone or special news. You can also use Instagram live video to connect with even more followers, since there is a sense of urgency as they are not archived and you can not view them once the broadcast has ended.



What other ways do you use Instagram for visual storytelling? Share them with us in the comments section of the website or via social media.

Looking for more detailed advice about all things digital marketing, online communications, social media and nonprofits, visit us here!

Join us for Julia’s brand new live webinar Instagram for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Instagram for Raising Awareness and Money for Your Cause

for more digital marketing and social media strategies.

About The Author

Julia C. Campbell, Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, consults and trains nonprofits on the best ways to use digital tools to raise money and awareness for their organizations. Her blog is consistently featured in the list of Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world, and she is currently publishing a book on storytelling and social media with Charity Channel Press. She has helped dozens of nonprofits small and large with their online fundraising and marketing campaigns, raising over $1 million for social causes.  


YouTube Nonprofit Program

Nonprofit Program

Does your organization have a compelling story to tell? Do you want to connect with your supporters, volunteers, and donors but don’t have the funds to launch expensive outreach campaigns?

YouTube can help.

Video is a powerful way to show your organization’s impact and needs, and with a designated “Nonprofit” channel on YouTube, you can deliver your message to the world’s largest online video community.


The Nonprofit program is currently only available in the United States and the United Kingdom—choose from the list below to see the requirements for that country. We are continuing to expand the program, so please do check back to see if other countries have been added.

Program Benefits

Tips and Tricks

Program Requirements

Organizations applying for the Nonprofit program must meet the following criteria.

  • Organizations must be U.S.-based nonprofits with IRS 501(c)(3) tax status

  • May not be religious or political in nature

  • May not be focused primarily on lobbying for political or policy change

  • Commercial organizations, credit-counseling services, donation middleman services, fee-based organizations, universities, and nonprofit portals are not eligible for the program

If you’re an educational institution, you may want to apply for the YouTube EDU program.

Apply Now

Make sure you’re logged into your organization’s account before applying.

Knots, Trust and Videos

Posted By Karen Rayzor on October 12th, 2009, in these categories: From GuideStar | From the Web

Knots, Trust and Videotape

Recently, my husband signed us up for sailing lessons. Initially, I was a reluctant participant. I viewed the experience as love collateral that I could cash in when, say, my relatives descended upon us. Our investment in time for the sailing lessons included two evening classes and four weekend days from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. No less than four of those hours were devoted to knot-tying. Yep, tying knots. I never imagined that I, or my husband, would spend so much time attempting to perfect the bowline. We did, however, only with the help of an online video that we could watch over and over, until we could successfully tie a bowline.

This week, GuideStar and CharityHowTo.com are unveiling a video which demonstrates the steps to update your GuideStar information: The GuideStar Exchange: A Step-By-Step Guide. I encourage you to view and bookmark this video. I suspect that you will learn the steps to update your GuideStar Exchange Form with far fewer viewings than it took me to learn to tie the bowline.

What does tying knots have to do with trust? A lot, actually. Sailors are team members that need to depend on one another. If a knot is not tied correctly, at worst a sail or a sailor could be lost; at best, a team mate will end up having to untangle granny knots.

What does your GuideStar Exchange Report have to do with trust? Everything! Information builds relationships. Relationships build trust. Donors and funders need to trust that their donations are spent wisely and prudently. Update your GuideStar Exchange Form and take the first step to building donor and funder trust!

Charityhowto.com is the producer of our video. They provide Step-by-Step Video Tutorials for Nonprofits. Visit Charityhowto.com . Charityhowto.com also has video tutorials teaching nonprofits how to use Facebook, how to create your first nonprofit blog, how to use YouTube and more.

10 tips for incorporating online video into nonprofit messaging

videocameraI wrote a short article for Mal Warwick’s widely read e-newsletter on the topic of incorporating online video into nonprofit messaging.  I was in the midst of working on an online video strategy for a client and collected my own thoughts and also aggregated the good ideas that I was reading online.  Here are my 10 tips, but you should make the jump to read more detail on each of these items:

  • Video should complement your other messaging.
  • Let your creative juices flow.
  • Keep video messaging simple.
  • Keep video messaging short.
  • Use video to go in-depth about an issue.
  • Invite video submissions.
  • Keep your production quality high.
  • Aim to go viral with your video.
  • Be patient and build your online video audience over time.
  • Learn more with the See3 “Guide to Online Video.”

Read the complete article

** The folks at CharityHowTo.com have a great tutorial:  YouTube: A Step-by-Step Guide For Nonprofits
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