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Instagram for Nonprofits: How to Get the Most Out of It

A smartphone with an Instagram icon.

Instagram, also known as Insta, is a spontaneous, “in-the-moment” social network. That means Instagram strategy for nonprofits is all about projecting a sense of vibrancy and relevance to your followers by sharing daily life as it happens.

Many people wonder if Instagram for nonprofits is worth the effort. The short answer is usually yes. The long answer involves looking at your organization’s work, your marketing goals, and the demographics of your donor base. But today in the CharityNet USA Blog we’re going to assume that Instagram is something you’d like to try.

Here are our suggestions for how to get the most out of it!

Switch to an Instagram Business Account

Different people have different ways of using Instagram. For nonprofits, the best way to use Insta is to switch to an Instagram business account. (Here is the official Instagram business account help page that explains how to make the switch.) Using a business account gives you access to better analytics, lets you add a donation button to your stories, and offers several other perks.

During this process you’ll also be given the chance to link your nonprofit’s Facebook account, which you should absolutely do, as this can reduce your workload and improve synergies in your advertising, as you can run the same ads on both networks. This should simplify your Instagram strategy. For nonprofits, especially those just getting started, simplifying is good. You can run separate ad campaigns in the future if you find you need to.

Try Instagram’s Fundraising Tool

As a nonprofit business using an Instagram business account, you’ll be able to do fundraising directly through Instagram, provided that you’re already approved to do so on Facebook. (Here is the official Instagram fundraising help page that explains how it works.)

Instagram for nonprofits is really more of a community engagement and brand awareness platform, as opposed to a fundraising channel, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with Instagram fundraising a few times and comparing it to your primary fundraising channels. Sometimes, a nonprofit will have just the right kind of audience that it actually ends up becoming a valuable source of donations.

Tag People in Your Posts

A winning Instagram strategy for nonprofits is all about letting people know you’re out there. Tagging people and companies in your posts increases their visibility and boosts engagement, which makes using Instagram for nonprofits a natural step to take in your own marketing strategy.

Tagging lets you give a shout out to your hardworking volunteers or staff, show thanks to your generous donors (if they’re comfortable with it), and cross-pollinate with your corporate sponsors. You can’t go wrong with that!

Use Hashtags Wisely

Hashtags are essential for bringing your content to new people, but choosing the right hashtags isn’t easy. Like with SEO, you have to anticipate what terms your prospective donors are going to be searching for on Instagram. For nonprofits, you especially want to be mindful of your main purpose on social media: community engagement and brand awareness.

It’s well worth it to spend some time researching hashtags on Instagram and following them to see what kinds of content are connected with those tags. When you find promising tags, you’ll know, because you’ll see that they’re specific enough to be meaningful, and are being used in content similar to your own.

  • Tip: Best practices call for 5 to 10 hashtags per post, with most of them in a comment on the post rather than in the post caption directly.

Flesh Out Your Bio

Your Insta bio is another way to get your organization to appear in search engine results. You should always fill out your bio with good information.

  • Tip: Be sure to include a link to your website in your bio!

Feed the Beast

Instagram is one of the hungriest social networks. Best practices call for posting roughly five times a day. Optimizing Instagram for nonprofits is therefore a real chore unless you have someone on your team who is a natural at using Insta and can translate their enjoyment into making great content for your nonprofit. If you don’t have anyone like that on staff, this is a great opportunity to recruit a volunteer.

The time of day that you post is also important. Prospective donors are most likely to see your content during working hours on weekdays. In particular hours of 10 am to 5 pm are best, and Wednesday and Thursday are usually the best days. So be sure you don’t miss those posts.

  • Tip: We recommend scheduling your posts in advance on Instagram! For nonprofits, Insta makes this pretty easy—another benefit of having a business account.

Get More Advice from CharityNet USA on Growing Your Nonprofit

Instagram strategy for nonprofits is all about visibility and engagement. Share interesting content that people will enjoy seeing. Don’t make every post about fundraising or event sign-ups. In fact, make that content the exception rather than the rule. On Instagram, people are more interested in seeing your nonprofit do its daily business. They’ll decide on their own whether to get involved.

CharityNet USA offers extensive nonprofit solutions and online resources to help your organization get off the ground, grow, and sustain itself. Learning about Instagram for nonprofits is only the beginning: From graphic design, to payroll services, to getting your 501(c)(3) tax exemption, we have helped over 30,000 others with their nonprofits, and we can help you too.

Contact us to discuss your nonprofit’s goals!

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