How nonprofits use Instagram to build awareness

publication date: Jun 20, 2012
author/source: Sumac Research
Have you started using Instagram yet? If not, you might want to consider it. It's a great way to connect with the global community and raise awareness for your cause.

What is Instagram? It's a mobile application available on all smartphones that allows you to quickly transform your photographs into works of art. Just take a picture, choose a filter to give the image a new look and feel, then post it on Instagram's own website, or other social media websites like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

The pictures that Instagram creates are pretty cool, and that's probably why the application has taken off like it has. The benefit for nonprofits, of course, is that these "cool" pictures can be used to build awareness for your cause. You can share what's going on behind the scenes or on the ground of your organization's operations. How you use the pictures is up to you, but creativity pays!

One early adopter, Robin Hood NYC, used Instagram to live-stream fan photos from a benefit concert it held in Central Park. The effort was very successful, building a great deal of awareness for the organization and its mission.

Tips to get you going
  1. Choose a person at your organization who will be your official Instagram photographer. Maybe you have an amateur photographer on your staff, or even someone who likes taking pictures on her phone. That person can create and maintain your Instagram profile. You can download the app for any smartphone here.
  2. After you create your profile, start following and interacting with other users on Instagram. Look for people who might be interested in your organization, and be sure to keep an eye out for other nonprofits as well.
  3. Post great pictures from the field, events, or of the people you serve to hook the interest of your followers. There are lots creative ways to use Instagram to build awareness if you use your imagination. Read this story about a single individual who set out to put a face to homelessness using Instagram.
  4. Tag your photos with keywords that will attract the right attention. Like Twitter and blog posts, Instagram allows you to tag posts with keywords to help people find what's relevant to them. For example, you may want to use the tag #nonprofit, #socialgood or #activism.
  5. Link your Instagram profile to your website. Note though that because Instagram is an application for mobile devices, the more mobile-friendly your website is, the better!
Looking for more resources to make the most of Instagram? Find lots of cool tips and tricks on the Instagram blog.

This article was contributed by Sumac Fundraising Software. Sumac is giving back to nonprofits by offering its software free to organizations with fewer than 500 contacts.

For more information, visit

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