Instagram marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Nonprofits

  • 15 Minutes
How to use Instagram to increase your reach and maximize your impact

‘Tis the season for holiday giving. As a nonprofit, there’s no better time to share your work with the world and watch those donations roll in. But to do that, you need the right platform. A picture is worth a thousand words, making Instagram the perfect place to make an impact through social media marketing.

Why Your Nonprofit Needs to Be On Instagram 

Instagram marketing isn’t just for corporations and for-profit businesses. According to the Open Data Project, 89% of nonprofits worldwide use social media in their digital marketing and fundraising strategy. What’s more, 75% of those are using Instagram as a channel to tell their stories. 

Nonprofits can leverage Instagram to share their mission, advocate for support, solicit donations, and show the impact of their work using one of the most visceral and powerful mediums possible: visual media. 

As Instagram grows and evolves, many nonprofits are finding it difficult to get organic exposure. However, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said in a recent interview that the company is working on an update to bring back the chronological feed in 2022. This is great news for your nonprofit. It means your followers will be able to see your content more readily and reduces the risk of it being buried by the algorithm.

Instagram also recently introduced new features to help nonprofits raise money. Whether you’re a non-profit and you’re struggling to get results or you’re starting a brand new Instagram account from scratch, here are some strategies to earn those ever-valuable donor dollars on Instagram.

The Basics: Setting Up Instagram for Nonprofits

Create a Business Profile

As a nonprofit, having a Business profile is a necessity. With an Instagram Business profile, you can do the following:

  • Add “nonprofit organization” or “charity organization” to your bio. You can even get more granular with category labels. Try out labels like “youth organization”, “environmental conservation organization”, or “non-governmental organization (NGO)” to let people know what you’re all about.
  • Access more advanced analytics, such as numbers of impressions (how many times your content was seen) and reach (how many people it reached).
  • Add a phone number, email and location for your non-profit. Fill out these areas completely so it’s easy for potential donors or volunteers to get in touch.
  • Utilize Instagram’s Charitable Giving Features, which we’ll cover in more detail below.

Switching to a Business account is simple. Go to your settings (the gear icon in your bio) and tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Voila! You’ve taken your first step to improving your Instagram game.

Connect Your Instagram to Facebook Business Manager

If you haven’t already set up a Facebook page for your nonprofit, now is the time. Once it’s all set up, you can link your Instagram and Facebook pages.

Linking these has several benefits. Access insights through Facebook, use Facebook’s Publisher Studio to cross-publish content across both platforms, and run ads on both platforms simultaneously to get more bang for those valuable donor bucks.

Make Your Instagram Bio Matter

You only get one first impression. Make yours a good one.

Your profile image should be either your nonprofit’s logo or another image that users can visually associate with your brand. 

See how United Way does this below:

@united way Instagram feed

Next, write a compelling Instagram bio. You only have 150 characters, so make them count. Include your organization’s vision or mission statement, as well as details about your location and how to contact you.

Make your bio work for you. Raise awareness around a current campaign by including a strong call-to-action to donate. Check out how AmnestyUSA does this by driving users to sign up for their SMS marketing:

@amnesty usa Instagram feed

Don’t forget to take advantage of your link in bio. Even if your Instagram posts are top-notch, it’s not always enough to tell the full story of what you do and why you do it. That’s where your website and other content comes in. With a Business Instagram profile, you can add a link to your website directly into your bio. 

Make the most of your link in bio with a customized link for each content piece you post. Sked Link allows you to add buttons to anywhere on the web and create a gallery of your Insta posts to direct users to the right page.

Sked Social's link in bio tool

Add Tags and Collabs

Instagram’s holiday gift to us this year was the brand new Collabs feature. In addition to tagging others in your posts, you can also highlight partnerships by adding other accounts as a collaborator. Bonus: if they accept, the content shows up on their profile as well as yours, and you’ll share all engagement such as likes, comments and shares.

Two Instagram influencers collaborating

Co-planned an event with another organization? Or perhaps you have a sponsor you want to thank or a volunteer you’d like to showcase. Tag them and invite them to collaborate. Everyone loves a shout-out and being recognized for their hard work.

Plus, the more engagement you get, the more likely the Instagram algorithm will rank your content higher in users’ Feeds, meaning the wider reach your organization has. And the more people you can reach with your mission, the better!

Along with tags come geotags. Geotagging on Instagram is especially beneficial for localized nonprofits. Using them means that your content will show up under Instagram’s page for that location, giving locals the opportunity to discover you and engage with your content more often.

Use Instagram’s Charitable Giving Tools

According to the Global Trends in Giving Report, 10% of online donors have donated through Instagram Charitable Tools. What’s better is that 93% said they’re likely to do so again.

Surprisingly, The Open Data Project indicates that only 13% of nonprofits are currently using these tools. By accessing these features, eligible nonprofits and their supporters can fundraise directly through the platform. This is done in a few ways:

Instagram charity campaign

Instagram Live Donations

Nonprofits can now raise money by adding a donate button to their Instagram Live videos. Once you begin your Live broadcast, you can see how many people are supporting your online fundraising efforts and the amount of money raised in real-time.

Instagram influencer live streaming and accepting donations

Donation Stickers in Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are used by over 500 million people daily. Use the donation sticker in Stories to create a fundraiser and encourage your followers to support your cause directly on Instagram.

@amethyst girl using an Instagram sticker CTA asking for donations to help girls learn to code

Instagram Business Account Donate Button

The donate button on Instagram now allows nonprofits to raise money directly from their Instagram Business Account. Followers will see the link on your profile and be directed to a page where they can donate to your cause.

@ASPCA Instagram feed

Instagram Feed Fundraisers

A fairly new feature, Feed Fundraisers are a long-lasting way for your supporters to donate to your cause. Created from the Feed Post composer, Feed Fundraisers can be shared to an IG Story, attached to a Feed Post, and added to Live broadcasts, video, carousel, and image Feed posts.

Instagram donation campaign for LGBTQ+ communities

To access the Charitable Giving Tools, you’ll have to link your Instagram and Facebook accounts. Then, sign up for Facebook Charitable Giving Tools. You’ll need 3 things to complete an application to receive donations on Facebook:

  1. A PDF copy of a bank statement from the last 3 months
  2. The name and date of birth of your organization’s CEO or Executive Director
  3. Your organization’s tax ID number (EIN or VAT number) which verifies your charitable tax exemption status

You can also check out this list of countries where nonprofit fundraising tools are available.

Decide Who To Target on Instagram

Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to figure out who you’re going to target through Instagram. 

This all ties back to your nonprofit’s goals. Is your goal to increase donations by 15% this quarter? Or to create awareness around a new campaign that you’re running? Your goals will inform the audience you want to target and the types of content you create.

As a nonprofit, the different audience segments that you target will differ from a traditional business. Since Instagram is one of your most valuable marketing channels, think about the different ways you can speak to the following groups:

  • Potential donors
  • New donors
  • Monthly donors
  • Large gift donors 
  • Volunteers
  • Staff
  • Beneficiaries or clientele (in some cases)

To make sure you’re targeting the right Instagram users, try creating a few different user personas. Each one should include:

  • Ages
  • Demographics
  • Occupation
  • Interests
  • Goals
  • Challenges

To build these personas, take a look at your current supporters. Send out a poll or survey asking them what kind of content they’d like to see from you or check out their social media feeds to see what kind of content they’re sharing.

Pro-tip: check your Instagram Insights to see which posts are performing best. This gives you an idea of what content is resonating most with your audience.

Get Instagram analytics that you can put action into. Sked Social’s analytics tool lets you find the best times to post for your audience, analyze Story performance, compare your activity against your competitors, and more. Try it out for yourself with a free 7-day trial.

Best time to post on Instagram Sked Social tool

Share Your Why

In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek talks about the success of organizations that know why they operate, not just how or for what. Think about why your nonprofit exists. What is the deeper purpose behind your services? What motivated the founder to start the organization? 

Sharing these stories is powerful. Find your why, then craft an effective message that will stick in people’s minds. Think about how Instagram can help you communicate that message.

From your Instagram bio to the content you post, your why should always be at the center of what you do. Keep this in mind as you plan out your monthly content calendar.

Share Content That Inspires People

As a nonprofit, you can leave a lasting impression on your audience by showing rather than telling. As a visual-first platform, Instagram is the perfect place to share strong visuals to tell your story and show the real-world impact that your work is having.

Some nonprofits use powerful images to tell their story. For example, Humans of New York, fills their feed with human-centric photography to share peoples’ unique stories. 

@humans of new york story about blind New Yorker

You can also use video features like Instagram Video or Reels to share what you do and how you do it. 

According to the Nonprofit Video Index, we’re seeing quick storytelling videos gain popularity across almost all social media platforms. These videos are shown to be most effective when kept under 1 minute in length

Here are a few ways you can use videos to share your why:

  • Use Instagram Reels to develop short, educational videos on topics related to your cause or mission
  • Create videos or Reels to build hype around your latest fundraising campaign
  • Share a video thanking your sponsors and community
  • Share the impact of your work by featuring stories and testimonials from beneficiaries

Check out this heartfelt thank you video that the World Wildlife Fund created for their sponsors as an example:

@world wildlife thanking their followers for their conservation efforts

Schedule your posts ahead of time with Sked’s Visual Instagram Planner. Not only can you plan out your visual storytelling in a beautiful feed preview, you can free up hours spent on posting on social media to focus on what truly matters: making a difference.

Other Content Ideas To Make a Lasting Impact on Your Instagram Followers

Incorporate Quotes

Whether they are directly from your beneficiaries or from a volunteer or team member, quotes are a great storytelling tool. Something motivational and inspirational is always sure to put a smile on someone’s face. 

National and International Social Media Holidays

Social media holidays like #givingtuesday, #nationalvolunteerappreciationday and #internationaldayofgiving are great opportunities to give your content a little boost. These days are meant to shine the spotlight on charities and nonprofits and encourage people to open their hearts (and wallets) to share a little love.

Don’t Make Every Post an Ask

Nobody likes a friend who asks for things all the time and gives nothing in return. The same goes for your Instagram followers. 

Find other ways to provide value to your audience. You can do this through educational or entertaining content to keep things interesting. In cases where you are making an ask of your audience, make sure to keep it clear, direct, and genuine. People can sniff out inauthenticity in a heartbeat.

Find Creative Ways to Showcase User-Generated Content (UGC)

Hosting a fundraising event? Include a branded hashtag associated with the campaign that users can add to their content. This not only builds brand awareness but creates an archive of posts that you can draw from later.

The same goes for fundraising campaigns. A campaign hashtag can help generate online awareness around your cause. You can also encourage donors, sponsors, and staff to follow the hashtag to keep up-to-date on the campaign’s progress.

Use Instagram Stories to Give People a Deeper Look

Instagram Stories are a great way to engage with your audience. Use features like Quizzes, Polls, and Links to encourage engagement and learn more about your audience. 

You can also use Stories to humanize your brand. Let people get to know your team better, give them an inside look at the daily work you do, and share live updates from community events and fundraisers to show how you are making a difference.

Instagram also recently expanded the ability for accounts to add hyperlinks to their Stories using Link Stickers. To add a Link Sticker, upload content to your story, select the sticker tool from the top navigation, tap the Link Sticker and add your desired link. 

You can use this tool to drive people directly from the Instagram app to your website or another page for a special campaign or event. More traffic = more funds raised!

Use Relevant Hashtags to Boost Your Nonprofit’s Profile

If you work in nonprofit marketing, you know funds can be limited. Instead of spending dollars on paid ads to boost your content, you have to get a little more creative and find other ways to expand your reach. 

The goal of using hashtags is to amplify your content and bring new followers to your account. Many nonprofits wind up using broad hashtags like #nonprofit #charity or #donations. While including a few popular hashtags can boost your reach, using too many can cause your content to have little to no impact.

Here are a few tricks to use hashtags to maximize your reach.

Focus On Local

If your nonprofit is community-focused or works within a specific location, tap into your local hashtags. It can be your city name, #citycommunity or #citycharity. Check out other local businesses or nonprofits to see what hashtags they’re using, then plan to tap into those.

Learn What Hashtags Your Followers Are Using

If you want your content to get seen by your target audience, you’ll have to post in niches or on topics they care about. 

Spend a few hours researching your followers. Check out their content, what hashtags they’re using, and what hashtags they’re following (you can see this by going to their profile, clicking “following”, and seeing the hashtags listed at the top). Then, use those hashtags in your content to grab their attention.

Experiment with New Hashtags

Not every hashtag will boost your content’s reach. Like all trends, hashtags also go in and out of style. It never hurts to go off book now and again and try something different.

Instead of using the same hashtag group each time, mix it up. Keep your highest-performing ones and switch out the less effective ones for new tags on each post. 

Try a Hashtag Tool

Struggling to come up with new hashtags for your content? Try out a hashtag tool. Hashtag tools can help you find, monitor, and analyze hashtags in detail. Here are a few that our team swears by:

We might be biased, but Sked Social has a great hashtag tool. Our Hashtag Planner allows you to find and save hashtags most relevant to your audience. Let the caption do the talking. Schedule your hashtags in the first comment rather than your caption to keep the focus where it matters – on your work. 

Summary

As a nonprofit, the best way to achieve growth is to constantly make new people aware of your work. The more people who become aware of you, the more your impact grows and the more lives you can touch.

Instagram is a great place to spread the word. Shout it from the rooftops with content that continuously inspires and engages your audience. Take advantage of what the platform has to offer and use as many features as you can to increase your reach – your beneficiaries and your community will thank you.

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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