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10 best practices for more donations & engagement on Instagram

Your Nonprofit’s Instagram account is a visual storytelling goldmine. Instagram is not just a place where people post nice photos. It is a crucial platform for organisations and companies to market themselves through sharing their work, their culture and impact stories. 

Still hesitant on why you should bother with Instagram? Take a look at these statistics. Numbers don’t lie. The social platform has;

  • 1 billion active users, with 800 million monthly users and 500 million daily users
  • Around 3.5 billion likes daily
  • Over 60 percent of users log in each day, second only to Facebook for the most engaged daily users 
  • 21.2 percent of peer-to-peer fundraising dollars raised come directly from an Instagram post. 

Source: classy.org 

Let’s get into the nitty gritties shall we? I’ll take you through step by step on how to get it right on Instagram like the modern nonprofit you are.

1. Create a business profile account 

If you don’t already or you have a personal account for your organisation, switch to “business profile” under settings. Click on the circle icon for Settings, go to Privacy and Security and switch profiles. 

The benefits of this type of account is that you have access to a donate button that can help you fundraise for causes. You also have access to insights like impressions, engagement, and reach on all of your posts and stories. This informs you on what content your audience likes the most, if you’re attracting weekly page visits, the click through rate (CTR) on your website and so much more. 

2. Fundraise through Instagram 

Instagram allows eligible nonprofits to raise money for charity through the Donation Sticker in Instagram Stories and Donate Button on Instagram Business Account. 100% of the money raised using this sticker goes to the nonprofit. For a nonprofit to be eligible to receive donations through the donation sticker they must — have a Business Account, Sign up for Charitable Giving Tools, link their Instagram and Facebook Accounts. To link, tap Menu>Settings>Accounts>Linked Accounts>Facebook.

3. The Bio 

After switching to a business profile, work on creating a short captivating bio. 

  • In just about 10 words, tell your audience your vision or mission. 
  • Include your wishlist in a link in the bio menu by using a platform like Link Tree. Help them discover all your important content from social media accounts, website links, youtube, donation page, and so on. 
  • Use your official logo as your profile photo so that people recognize you right away.
A good example is Goodwill’s bio

4. Drive interest 

We’ve finished setting up our profile nicely. So, what’s next? 

Document your day-to-day work and highlight the meaningful results of those efforts. For example, when I visit Charity Water, I get an understanding that they provide clean water with one quick glance through their photos. People don’t like what they don’t understand so it’s your job to make them understand. 

Post impact stories and curated content from your beneficiaries, partners and advocates. Features like IGTV allow you post lengthy videos of up to 1 hour. Take advantage of this feature to post your documentaries and series of impact stories. 

5. Garner support through creative asks

  1. Sell charitable products through an Instagram Shop 
  2. Viral Marketing- involve your supporters in helping you spread word about a campaign in a creative, fun and influential manner. They must feel bothered enough to participate. From Black Lives Matter (BLM) #blackouttuesday posts to the Ice Bucket challenge and many others, virals are the best way to create genuine engagement and bring a lot of awareness and support to your cause. 

6. Followers & who you follow 

Follow organisations and people who are interested in your work. A donor is not someone who is rich and has money to spend but rather someone who is genuinely interested in your nonprofit’s work. Know who your potential donor is and follow them. 

Follow your friends and their friends because these will be the first people willing to share your posts and help you reach a wider audience. That’s what social media is about- creating a large social network. 

Use common nonprofit hashtags when you post to get followers and engagement. Instagram’s algorithm uses hashtags to gather similar posts under one common hashtag that people can follow. For example, when you like more than 3 photos with the hashtag #nonprofitdesign, a notification pops up and asks if you want to follow the hashtag and see more posts like that. 

7. Photography

Your Instagram is nothing without good photos. I’ll go ahead and share some practical tips on shooting that powerful photo. 

  • Tip 1: Get a good camera phone, an iPhone 6plus at the bare minimum 
  • Tip 2: Find the perfect light. DO NOT take photos with too much light in the background. Get behind the source of the light so that it reflects on your subject and not your camera. 
  • Tip 3: If you are inside, try and photograph close to natural light sources like windows, skylights or open doors.
  • Tip 4: To bring out powerful emotions, take note of the tone of light you’re using. For example, natural sunset light brings out a soft and sad emotion while a bright sunny light brings out a brilliant, happy emotion. 
    Heifer International uses brilliant cloudy skies to put focus on their beneficiaries. 
  • Tip 5: It’s a 3 square grid but it looks much better when the middle photo appears a little bit unique from the two besides it. 
  • Tip 6: Use white space to let your page breathe and not become overly heavy with the same photos. That white balance gives your layout such a great aesthetic and keeps your stalkers scrolling.
See how Pencils of Promise does it 
  • Tip 7: Photo editing
    Photos can appear a lot brighter and better with some photo editing skills. Play around with the contrast, brightness, saturation, and filters that don’t kill someone’s features but instead enhance them. 
  • Tip 8: Rule of Thirds 
    This is one of the best ways to balance photos. The subject appears in one third of the frame. Look at this photo by Charity Water 

8. Brand it 

There’s many ways to do it. There’s a carousel style normally used to educate your audience on a certain topic. 

If you wish to brand your posts, you can resort to free and easy to use design platforms like Canva and Crello. 

9. Influencers 

Welcome to the land of influencers if you didn’t know this about Instagram. It’s the trend to use authorities that people listen to in order to get your word out there. Even in the nonprofit world, there are influencers for different causes. You just have to know them and engage them. 

Pro tip: Influencers are most profitable when you’re pushing a campaign because you shoot two birds at once. They push your cause and also create brand awareness for your nonprofit. 

10. Captions and other social accounts

Use captions to redirect followers or browsers to your Instagram bio and then your home or other specific landing page and leverage your other social media accounts to get people to your Instagram profile. 

Tess Hazel

Tess Hazel is the copywriter at era92 Creative. She loves to read novels and runs a personal blog about poetry and creative nonfiction short stories.

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USA Office

9385 12th Ave Sw seattle, wa 98106
+1(213) 674-9869

UK Office

12 Mill Square Portstewart BT55 7TB Northern Ireland
+44 7956 989809‬

Uganda Office

Lungujja, Kampala along Kalema Road
+256 784 239 786‬


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