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How to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Storytelling with 3 Examples

Nonprofit storytelling is the foundation necessary to build support for any cause. Here’s how you can use Instagram to tell you nonprofit’s story with examples.
How to Use Instagram for Nonprofits examples featured image.

Nonprofit storytelling is the foundation necessary to build support for any cause. Without knowing the story behind what you do, donors won’t want to give. Learning how to use Instagram for this purpose will help you attract younger and more diverse supporters.

It’s not always easy to picture how your nonprofit can use Instagram. Not all causes provide the opportunity for frequent photos. Not all causes are photogenic at all. You can still use Instagram as a nonprofit. You just need to apply a little creativity.

To find some inspiration, we looked for the best Instagram accounts from Give customers. Here are the top three with notes on why their strategies work.

Love Button

As a product-based nonprofit, Instagram is ideal for a cause like Love Button. But any kind of nonprofit can learn how to use Instagram strategically just by observing what they do. Love Button uses nearly every Instagram feature available to fully tell the story associated with their cause.

The Love Button Instagram page has 778 posts, 16.4 thousand followers, and follows 128 people. The Love Button Global Movement is a non-profit org cultivating a culture of love. #Pause and Love. Story highlights include: SALE, Fan Fridays, New Gear, LB in Action, and Good News.

Starting at the top, they have a solid mission statement followed by a link to a landing page optimized for Instagram. The landing page includes links to their sales, images of their products, and calls to join their movement, attend an event, or give to the cause.

Below that are their story highlights, which Love Button uses uniquely to categorize things like their products, sales, events, fan-based content, and fundraising. Each story highlight has a similarly styled icon of a different color, which draws the attention of a page visitor.

The Fan Fridays, Events, LB in Action, and Good News sections are all different ways Love Button uses storytelling. They show how their cause inspires people, how it helps as an organization, and what a Love Button Event is like. Not only do these types of content tell a story, but they also provide social proof, which encourages others to support the cause.

Then last, but certainly not least, Love Button creatively uses their Instagram Story to call attention to their fundraising campaign.

In addition to brilliant design and storytelling, Love button makes full use of the ability to use Instagram Story Ads with a “swipe up” link to their Give donation forms. This way they can capture all of the information they need and fully control the donor experience. The new alternative is to use the Instagram Stories donation sticker, which goes through Facebook’s donation tools. We recommend sending your donors to your own donation forms. That way you capture all the data and get your donation quickly.

Once they launched the ad, they added it to their story highlights. Now it lives at the top of their page forever. We wrote a little about Facebook advertising here, which is the same platform you’d purchase your Instagram Ads from. There’s also more information about how nonprofits can use Instagram Stories strategically in our 2019 State of Social Media for Nonprofits article.

Other than the stories, Love Button’s actual Instagram post content is similar to their mix of story content. They post user-generated content from accounts that use their hashtag, inspirational quotes with a Love Button in the image, and images of their products.

One crucial element of nonprofit storytelling is to always go back to what the cause represents. Love Button also posts inspirational stories with a standard frame that has the branding and a single sentence summary of what happened in the story. Below the image, they tell the story and tag any relevant accounts.

Overall, Love Button is one of the most impressive examples of how to use Instagram for a nonprofit that we came across. They do well because they are a product-based cause, but there are plenty of other types of nonprofits who know how to use Instagram well.

Tiger Woods Foundation

The Tiger Woods Foundation is an example of a cause that does not sell products and still excels on Instagram.

The TGR Foundation page has 1,053 posts, 32.9 thousand followers, and follows 79 people. The TGR Foundation is a Tiger Woods Charity with programs that empower students to pursue their passions through education. Story highlights include Student Life, Genesis Open, Celebrity Cup, Tiger Jam, etc..

The TGR Foundation uses more of an event-based fundraising model alongside online donations. Their Instagram bio link goes directly to the donation page, which is good for converting donors from Instagram. In order to lead donors to that link though, their Instagram needs to tell a story, and it does.

First, they section off stories of each individual event by using Instagram Stories similar to the way in which Love Button does. They also use unique, yet uniform-looking cover images and section out different events. There’s even a student takeover story where one of their scholars showed their audience what a day in her life at Harvard was like.

The impact that the TGR Foundation has and their path to get there is clear by looking at the Instagram content. Posts feature students who have benefitted from the TGR foundation scholarships as well as inspirational quotes and event photos.

Tiger Woods is a famous golfer, so they harness this and most of their content is golf centered.

Museum of Man

The San Diego Museum of Man is a location-based cause with the ability to attract global supporters. What do I mean by that? It’s a museum of humanity, so it theoretically interests everyone on the planet, but, they are confined to the building that their artifacts live in. So the Museum of Man uses Instagram to both highlight local events and attract general interest from people around the globe.

The Museum of Man page has 804 posts, 5,545 followers, and follows 734 people. San Diego Museum of Man invites you to ‘Discover what it means to be human at #MuseumofMan.

The Museum of Man does not use the story highlights section as the last two examples did, but they still do a great job using storytelling on Instagram. The Museum of Man’s main goal is to attract visitors, so they prominently display a link to their homepage and provide their phone and email contact information.

While they don’t use “stories,” the post content still tells the story of what the Museum of Man is like day-to-day. Their posts vary between local events, broad tourism, and generally “human” things that happen at the Museum of Man, like this proposal.

But generally, their page shows you what a day is like in the museum and exhibits or activities that might attract a visitor. They also use social proof by posting photos of people visiting.

While the Museum of Man page has only a fraction of the followers of the last two examples, it’s most likely because it is a location-based cause. They use Instagram well and attract the right kind of followers – those who would be likely to visit.

How to Use Instagram to Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story

Don’t be discouraged if your nonprofit only attracts a few followers or a few hundred. These examples of nonprofits who know how to use Instagram are well-established models that you can work from. Each is unique and provides valuable lessons to

In summary, some of the best practices for nonprofit storytelling on Instagram include:

  1. Set up your bio and information section strategically with a strong mission statement and a link to the page that makes the most sense.
  2. Use Instagram Stories to tell the story of your cause more in-depth and with less pressure on the quality and design. Stories disappear in 24 hours unless you put them in your Story Highlights section.
  3. Use the Story Highlights section and include cover photos that go well together on the screen. Section your story highlights based on category or event.
  4. Use your hashtag to gather user-generated content to post to your page and story as well.
  5. Use quality images and designs for your Instagram posts.
  6. Have fun with it. Instagram is a human platform and people want to talk to humans on it.

How are you using Instagram for your charitable cause? Tell us in the comments.

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3 Responses

  1. One of my clients is a Prison Ministry. How would/could they use Instagram (or any social platform) when they are not allowed to have any sort of camera with them and they can’t identify anyone they are working with? Is it even possible to use social for this kind of non-profit?

    1. Hi Paul,

      That’s an EXCELLENT question. In cases where a nonprofit legally can’t take photos, or the nonprofit in general just doesn’t have the opportunity, many people use text-based posts. I did find a few ministries that posted inspirational biblical and similar quotes with either plain colored backgrounds or photo backgrounds. In order to really tell the story of the prison ministry, your client would want to take it further. They can’t take photos inside, but they can take photos outside and get creative in other ways. Try some of these ideas:

      • Taking photos outside the building before and after visits using the caption to tell a story. Don’t be afraid to post long-form content on Instagram (keeping the anonymity of the prisoners). People read the captions.
      • Using the story to record trips there and back, conversations about the trip, tell the story from a first-person perspective (again keeping anonymity).
      • IF there are ANY cases where the prisoner is released and they are eventually able to share their impact, those are great posts as well. It follows up on the nonprofit’s impact, but I’m not sure if that’s possible in this case.
      • For more ideas, check out the #prisonministry hashtag on Instagram.

  2. Thanks for defining what Nonprofit Storytelling is. The 3 examples give me better ideas about storytelling on Instagram. Love the way Love Button attracts people’s attention to their fundraising campaign the most.

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