NonProfits Do Instagram

NonProfits Do Instagram

As organizations look to reach the Millennial generation, many are looking to Instagram as their media of choice. Our recent report on Millennials and Nonprofit Engagement shows over 75% of Millennials have an Instagram account, making it the third most popular platform in terms of accounts. Getting started on Instagram may seem easy–snap a picture, throw on some hashtags, post–but keeping the content fresh and engaging can be more than difficult. Check out these nonprofits who are rocking Instagram. We’ll take a peek at their strategy and talk about how you can apply some of their tricks to your own Instagram account.



instagram church graphic design charity:water


Known for incredible social media experiences, the Instagram account of Charity:Water lives up to expectations. When you break down their posting, you’ll find an incredible number of provoking pictures from the people whose lives are changed by clean water offered by Charity:Water. You’ll also find pictures of unusual donors (specifically children), pictures with status updates that explain how the organization functions and pictures thanking sponsors. To work around the no-links policy of Instagram, they do include the web address in their status (which can be copied and pasted into a browser) and they refer followers to their profile where they can find the link.

Charity:Water incorporates its signature yellow color into many of the pictures and they use mostly actual photographs versus pictures with text overlays and non-picture graphics. These crisp, real-life photos have set the tone and voice for their Instagram account.

Take-aways: Be consistent. Choose what types of pictures you want to use. Choose a ratio of program pictures versus donor/sponsor pictures and stick with it. In staged pictures, use your organization’s colors as accent colors when possible.

Doctors Without Borders

doctor without borders, instagram, nonprofit

Working around the world, this organization has amazing stories to tell, and they do it through their Instagram account. Much like Charity:Water, Doctors Without Borders uses a mix of pictures of clients, volunteers and donors. Clear, crisp pictures speak volumes about their work. They also use the space in their status updates to tell the story about the people they help and to reference blog articles where followers can learn more.

Take-aways: Just because Instagram doesn’t allow links in status updates, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to direct people to your blog. Tell enough of a compelling story in your status that followers will WANT to read more, then direct them to the link in your bio.

Boys & Girls Club of America

boys and girls clubs of American, instagram, graphic design

BGCA doesn’t have the incredibly heart-wrenching photos that Charity:Water and Doctors Without Borders have to share. They do, however, have events, crazy successful alumni and the foresight to use #repost and #regram to its full potential. In a national organization with hundreds of smaller clubs around the United States, BGCA can’t physically be everyone at once. Sure they can rely on their clubs to send in some great photos, but a sometimes faster route is to simply #repost what others are posting about you. Unlike some other brands, BGCA does use text overlays on their pictures and a lot of graphics. They stick to similar fonts, colors and layouts to make sure they keep a consistency with their voice and brand. Plus it makes creating those graphics a little easier!

Take-aways: You don’t have to create all your own content. Repost user generated content, give them credit and share in the success. Also, if you’re going to use text overlay on your graphics, set some rules about the fonts, colors, sizes and amount of words you can use.

St. Jude

st. jude, instagram, nonprofit

Storytelling is the key to St. Jude’s incredible Instagram account. You won’t find amazing photos of breathtaking landscapes, but you will find inspiring stories of children fighting for their lives. Mixed in with these photos are shout-outs to donors, reminders about events and photos from those events. St. Jude keeps the ration of patient stories versus everything else in check. They know what you know. People give because of the stories.

Take-aways: Create a ratio of stories to asks/donor recognition/etc and stick to it. People give because of the stories. Tell enough stories so that when post about an event or a donation opportunity they will WANT to give because they believe in what you do.

Brooklyn Museum

brooklyn museum, instagram, nonprofit

Sometimes research for a blog turns to distraction. As I’m combing through nonprofit Instagram accounts, I’m enthralled by the Brooklyn Museum account. Their account is about more than pictures of artwork. They use the pictures to teach followers about art and the artists. Plus they throw in a little history.

Take-aways: Another great Instagram without relying on pictures of people. It’s not about showing an entire display but one picture of an exhibit along with a compelling story to draw in the follower. Use the status update to talk–using vivid language of course–about the picture, the history and the significance.

Feeding America

Did you know 1 in 6 children in America do not have enough food? Feeding America drives this statistic home in almost every Instagram post–but they do it by including pictures of some well-known celebrities. Of course they don’t limit it to pictures of celebrities, that would just be name dropping. They also show you pictures of the people they help.

Take-aways: So your nonprofit doesn’t have big-name celebrities supporting your cause. No problem. Search out local celebrities to promote your cause. What problems does your nonprofit seek to tackle? Why is that important? And how can you take one picture that shows their support and talks about the problems you’re solving? Feeding America figured it out with their #HungerActionMonth paper plate pictures. So can you.

Girl Scouts

girl scouts, instagram, nonprofit

Girl Scouts combine several best practices to create a varied, yet engaging Instagram presence. They’ve identified specific colors to use in their quote graphics, keeping the posts consistent. They also repost or regram pictures from local Girl Scout troops, meaning they don’t have to create all the content themselves. Plus they give shout outs to alumni who’ve succeed and they pull from the Girl Scouts vast history for some fantastic #ThrowbackThursday posts.

Take-aways: You don’t need a little bit of everything to make your Instagram zing, however, if you can create a schedule that takes advantage of more than one type of content you’ll have an easier time creating the content, and it will resonate with more people. Remember, consistency is key, whether it’s the type of post, the colors your use or your fonts.

Each of these organizations has different advantages and challenges when maintaining a consistent Instagram account, but they all have created successful, engaging content. Another reminder that nonprofit graphic design and church graphic design can be well done without spending a ton of money. However, none of these organizations try to do it all, you shouldn’t either. Start out with some consistent posts and slowly add to the mix. Find out what resonates with your followers. And when you’re stuck, just search through Instagram for a few ideas of what’s working for other organizations.