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

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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.  


8 New Facebook Social Plugins Nonprofits Need to Know About

On Monday I shared with you my initial thoughts on how Facebook will change how we all experience and use the internet – and how this change will impact your nonprofit.

Right now, when people visit your website, they see the same content as every other visitor. By default, it’s not tailored to their preferences. They also have no clue who else has visited your site, what content they’ve shared on Facebook, and whether they have a social connection to those visitors.

The new Facebook platform changes all of this, making your website – and the entire internet – social by default. By implementing Facebook Social Plugins into your website, you could give your visitors these experiences:

  • Display content they would prefer, based on their Facebook preferences and what their friends have liked.
  • Show them who else has visited your site – and even who’s on your site right now!
  • Allow them to engage with current Facebook friends about your cause – on your website.
  • And do all of this without having to login to to your website.

In short, Facebook plugins will allow you to turn any page on your site into a Facebook Page.

8 New Facebook Social Plugins – A Summary For Nonprofits

Facebook Social plugins are fairly easy to install (most of them are as easy as embedding a YouTube video).

  1. The Like Button – The Like Button allows visitors to share content from your site on their Facebook profile – with one mouse click. A good use of this plugin is to place it on Pages with information on actions people can take to support your cause. I have one below this blog post that I installed with a WordPress plugin.
  2. Like Box – The Like Box replaces the Facebook Fanbox. It allows your visitors to like your Page, view your Page stream and see connections on your Facebook Page.
  3. The Recommendations Plugin – The Recommendations allows you to dynamically display content on your site they might like.
  4. Comments Plugin – The Comments plugin allows visitors to comment on pages on your site. Those comments are also shared on their Profile.
  5. Activity Feed – The Activity Feed plugin allows visitors so see what their Facebook friends are commenting on and liking on your site.
  6. FacePile – The Facepile plugin displays the profile pictures of everyone who has signed up to your site.
  7. Login with Faces – A slight variation of the FacePile plugin, the Login with Faces plugin shows profile pictures of the user’s friends who have already signed up for your site in addition to a login button.
  8. The Live Stream – The Live Stream plugin allows visitors to engage with your site in real time. Perfect to use during events.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Facebook Social Graph Platform, check out this YouTube playlist on the Facebook Platform release at F8.

Please comment below

Tweetraising: The Potential For Charities On Twitter

By: Leena Rao
Sunday, July 5, 2009; 3:30 PM

Twitter has been hailed as an incredibly useful marketing tool for businesses and brands, both big and small, to disseminate information and engage with consumers on a massive scale. But what about non-profits? The ability to use social media to fundraise for charitable purposes has been questionable. A few months ago, the Washington Post reported that Causes, one of Facebook’s popular applications used by non-profits to raise money, was not netting much money for charities, despite its large amount of users (according to the application’s page, it has 26 million monthly users).

Twitter, the current darling of the social media world, is increasingly being used by charities. In addition to building awareness, Twitter has potential to raise charitable contributions. One of the more successful initiatives launched in the Twittosphere was February’s global Twestival, which raised over $250,000 for charity:water, a non-profit organization devoted to bringing clean drinking water to developing nations. The volunteer-run organization held events to bring Twitter communities in nearly 200 cities together. 250K sounds like an awful lot of dough to raise over the microblogging network, but this amount fell way below Twestival’s goal of $1 million.Still, Twitter’s viral, real-time nature allows for a fast (and relatively low-cost) way to raise funds. Tweetsgiving, another Twitter-based charitable initiative raised over $10,000 in just 48 hours in November of 2008 to fund a new classroom for a school in Tanzania. Beth Kantor reports that she was able to raise over $3000 via Twitter in just 90 minutes.Other charities have used guerrilla follower tactics, developing ‘follower-challenges’ to raise money for causes. For example, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation recently found a donor who was willing to give $25,000 if the Foundation’s CEO, Doug Ulman, could reach 25,000 followers in three days (he started with roughly 10,000 followers at the beginning of the challenge). Ulman was able to surpass 25,000 and reach the goal.

Ashton Kutcher added a philanthropic element to the race with CNN to reach a million followers by promising donations to Malaria No More if he won. And Kutcher even initiated a follow-up fundraising effort for the charity shortly after. Hugh Jackman recently issued a challenge on Twitter to give $100,000 to the any charity that is best described within the 140 character limit.

Even on a smaller scale, there are some capabilities that Twitter provides on its platform that other social media outlets don’t have. For example, hashtags are one part of a fundraising effort on Twitter that can make it easy to search and identify a particular trend. Blame Drew’s Cancer (hashtag: #blamedrewscancer) is a great example of this. Drew Olanoff recently contracted Hodgkins Lymphoma, and launched Blame Drew’s Cancer as a way to get Twitter users who are complaining about something to use the hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. The tweets are pulled into www.blamedrewscancer.com with the hope the Tweets would be tallied to elicit a large donation from a non-profit organization. The site recently announced that Livestrong will be a partner.

The examples I mention above are just a sampling of ways non-profits and philanthropists are using Twitter to fundraise. Twollars and Tweet4Good also offer interesting ways for non-profits to raise money over Twitter. But it’s pretty clear that there are many compelling ways to use Twitter’s viral nature as a valuable fundraising tool for charities.

Some may argue that the thousands raised through social media sites doesn’t match the millions raised through traditional tactics, including direct mail and events. But most charities are relatively late-adopters to new technologies, and the success we have seen this early is probably a strong indication of the potential that is yet to be unharnessed. This isn’t to suggest that Twitter will replace conventional ways of fundraising, but it provides a low-cost, yet engaging way to diversify a charity’s fundraising efforts. And in this economy, diversification is too important to ignore.

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