10 Ways to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

This is a post by Julia Campbell

Instagram is growing rapidly, with 35 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 to increase engagement with your potential donors:

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.

2. Write great captions on your nonprofit instagram posts.

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.

instagram for nonprofit
Instagram Caption: “”When the children come through the pantry and get really excited about basic food, it makes you realize that they don’t have a lot – and it’s really touching to see how much of a difference you’re making in their lives” – Rose, a hard working woman who works a regular job and voluntarily runs her church food pantry. Thanks to Rose her community sees more full bellies. #FeedingAmerica”

3. Use hashtags strategically in your instagram posts.

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.

4. 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

5. 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
Instagram Caption: “Here at Cape Ann Animal Aid, we don’t want to just provide food and shelter for homeless animals, we want to enrich their lives with meaningful experiences while they await adoption. This means happier, more well-adjusted animals and more successful adoptions. Today, our staff treated the shelter cats to a try full of snow from outside. This stimulated their sense and really got their minds going!”


6. 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.

Instagram Caption: Our founder Jamie Tworkowski spent yesterday and today in New York City talking hope and love and TWLOHA with the media. Our Title Rain Jacket is a good one for this season.”

7. 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


8. Insert CTAs in the captions in your post.

Insert your call to action right in the caption to get more engagement. For example, “double tap/like.” 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

9. 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

10. 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. This is a great way to increase engagement when using Instagram for nonprofits.


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.

Join us for my new 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.

Topics: Social Media for Nonprofits, nonprofit marketing, online marketing, marketing, Instagram, social media, instagram for nonprofit, Nonprofit Tips & Tricks, Video for nonprofits