Instagram for Nonprofits - Avenir Thinking

Instagram for Nonprofits

Non-Profit Topics

6 years ago

Should you use Instagram?

Yes, if you:

  • Vary your content to achieve a good balance
  • Alternate between photos of your team and staff, and your constituents
  • Add text or an inspirational quote to images to increase engagement

Instagram has become the social media platform of choice for celebrities, millennials and a growing cadre of nonprofit organizations. It’s visual, compelling and tightly integrated with Facebook. But is it right for your organization?

Nonprofits with a mission that can be represented visually can show off the scope of your nonprofit’s impact on Instagram. With the right planning, it’s possible to get great results.

Here are a few tips to help get started:


If you decide to add Instagram to your nonprofit’s suite of social media tools, commit fully to the project. Post photos regularly, focus on growing your number of followers, and interact with other users on the network. Instagram may be all about the visuals, but engagement is still the key to success on any social media platform.

There’s nothing worse than visitors showing up to find a poorly managed, inactive social media account.

Balance Consistency and Quality

This is where many nonprofits struggle. Regular posting is important so you show up in your followers’ feeds. Still, photos must be compelling. Users would rather see more impactful photos less frequently. Experiment to find the right balance of frequency and quality for your organization.

The prospect of having to post a powerful and engaging photo on Instagram every day can be overwhelming; it’s also unrealistic. Fill in gaps by showcasing different aspects of your nonprofit’s work and using Instagram as a promotional tool.

Vary your content to achieve a good balance. Alternate between photos of your team and staff, and your constituents. Add text or an inspirational quote to images to increase engagement.

Tell a Story

Every post should tell a story about your nonprofit’s impact.
You might be limited to a photo and a caption, but, lucky for you, a picture is worth a thousand words. Use the caption to expand on your photo–tell the part of the story a visitor would never know from looking at the picture.

Not sure what type of photos to use? Your options are endless. Post a picture of volunteers at work, a compelling profile of someone you’ve helped, an engaging graphic for an upcoming fundraiser, an inside look at your team in action, etc. You can’t go wrong if you’re showcasing your nonprofit’s efforts.

World Bicycle Relief (Instagram: @worldbicyclerelief) does a great job telling stories and selecting content. They are based in Africa, where the possibilities for stunning photos seems like they would be endless. However, their Instagram photos are human-scale, focused tightly on the people they serve and the direct result of their action. Here’s what they do right:

  • Human centric images that connect to viewers’ hearts
  • Feature youth and others directly helped, to show actual impact achieved
  • Smiling facies of clients shows their positivity despite difficult lives
  • Great lighting in every photo creates a sense of hopefulness
  • Family and group photos give a sense of large scale impact
  • Bicycle photos show the physical product donated
  • Images of people using their bicycles tell the story of transformed lives
  • Branded images for #givingtuesday and special campaigns

Posting a video? Provide context in the caption. Describe the events leading up to the moments captured in the video, or what happened shortly after. Captions let you give viewers the whole story, not just the moments captured in the visual.

Call Your Visitors to Action

Even when posting photos, it’s crucial to ask people to act. Instagram doesn’t allow you to put active links directly in your captions, but you can still include a call to action.
World Help International adds text to some of their Instagram photos inviting supporters to join them for podcasts or conference calls:

Drive visitors from Instagram to your website by inviting them to make a donation, sign up to volunteer, learn more through your blog, etc. Let them know where to access a direct link. Many nonprofits will include a live link in their Instagram bio.

Hopefully these tips help your nonprofit get up and running on Instagram. If you have the visuals, Instagram is a powerful opportunity to share stories of your nonprofit’s impact.