7 Nonprofits On Instagram Who Are Getting It Right: What Can We Learn From Them

Breakfast with friends, baby shower, business trip… Millions, 500 million daily to be more precise, are wondering – is it Instagrammable?

Once a Millenials’ darling, Instagram continues to grow as one of the most popular social media platforms of today, and the data tells us that it’s not going to change anytime soon.

The photo-sharing giant boasts an active user base of more than 1 billion people.  And 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. Instagram is a social network that allows users to share and edit both photos and videos. At this point, it’s safe to say that both your audience and your competitors use Instagram.

In addition to the admirable size of its user base, Instagram’s users are quite active (topped only by Facebook). They spend on average 53 minutes per day on the platform.

If your target audience includes a young demographic, Instagram is the place to be. The single most popular age range is users between the ages of 25-34, followed by users between the ages of 18-24.

Finally, 83% of Instagram users say they discover new products and services on Instagram. This means that they are using Instagram as a channel to take inspiration from. The same study also reveals that by simply being on Instagram, brands can make a positive impression on potential donors/employees/customers.

To get the most out of Instagram, you have to be smart about your approach. Here are insights from some nonprofits on Instagram.


Use these tips from leading nonprofits to launch brand-new Instagram campaigns or revise already existing strategies.


1. Charity: Water

Charity: Water is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 that provides drinking water to people in developing nations and a frontrunner in nonprofit marketing, especially nonprofit social media marketing.

Their digital marketing efforts certainly pay off. Their online engagement keeps on increasing, and 70% of their contributions come from online donations and online fundraisers.

What can we learn from Charity: Water?

  • Build a community. Charity: water has built an online platform that allows people to create fundraising campaigns linked to personal events, such as marathons, holidays, or birthdays. This lets donors connect to their impact, the word spreads more quickly, and donors become brand advocates.
  • Design matters. Charity: water genuinely puts design at the center of what they do. A glance at their Instagram (or any other platform) with beautiful infographics, illustrations, and clean, well-implemented branding will confirm this.
  • Focus on donors. Charity: water often thanks to donors in the captions of their Instagram posts and in that way makes them feel valued and important.
  • Use pictures with faces. A study from Georgia Tech looked at 1.1 million random Instagram pictures and discovered these two really interesting bits of information. Pictures with faces on average get 38% more likes 32% more comments. Charity: water primarily posts high-quality compelling images of its beneficiaries.
instagram campaign nonprofits

2. The Movember Foundation

Movember is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. The Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity event, housed at Movember.com. The goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health.”

The Movember movement started very small as an idea of two friends, with only 30 people participating in the first year, and then exploded across the globe. Movember has now been “attended” by over 5.5 million people across 20 countries, generating over $700 million to fund 1,200 men’s health projects.

What can we learn from the Movember Foundation?

  • Use a recognizable profile image. It’s important for users to instantly recognize it when they visit your Instagram profile.
  • Pay attention to your color palette. Movember Foundation uses a select color palette for their photos, helping them to create a distinct style.
  • Create a brand-specific hashtag. The hashtag #Movember allows the Movember Foundation to tell a story about what they’re passionate about both personally and professionally. Regularly and consistently use the #BufferStories hashtag to tell stories about your work and repost your community’s content.
instagram for nonprofits

3. Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit organization that builds schools and provides quality education to children around the world. The organization has already built over 429 schools and is currently educating 74,500 students every day.

Pencils of Promise runs a range of programs: building schools, training teachers, and educating people about the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

What we can learn from Pencils of Promise?

  • Develop a clear brand message. Pencils of Promise tells a simple, compelling story that appeals to the emotions of their audience. Talk about your work in a way that resonates with multiple audiences while telling a consistent story. Even their Instagram Stories Highlights are perfectly branded and aligned to the rest of the content.
  • Use Instagram to have the audience connect to your mission. Pencils of Promise rarely uses social media to ask supporters to donate. Instead, they get people to connect to their mission by posting content that focuses on hope and optimism.
  • Get creative with your posts. Pencils of Promise used animation to bring their Instagram posts to life.
instagram for nonprofits

4. World Bicycle Relief

World Bicycle Relief is an international, nonprofit organization that specializes in large-scale, comprehensive bicycle distribution programs to aid poverty relief in developing countries around the world.

Their mission is to provide sustainable, durable bicycles to individuals and communities in places where a lack of transport means that education, healthcare, and economic opportunity and livelihood is often out of reach.

What can we learn from World Bicycle Relief?

  • Showcase impact. WBR’s images are not only human-centric, but they feature youth and others directly helped. Like most other successful nonprofits on Instagram, they also choose to show smiling and positive faces of their beneficiaries, instead of the potentially very grim content (having in mind the issues at hand).
  • Capitalize on #GivingTuesday and other campaigns and hashtags. Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday, in its essence, harnesses the power of social media and the charitable nature of people around the world and encourages them to donate time, talents and resources to pressing local and global challenges. World Bicycle Relief created branded images for #GivingTuesday.
  • Use CTAs. In one of their Instagram images, WBR invites their audience to ‘double tap if you like these smiles as much as we do’ in a caption accompanying two young smiling boys on their mother’s WBR bicycle. While this CTA is somewhat of a ‘trick’ to induce likes, CTAs are essential if you want to convert your social media presence into active support in forms of volunteering, donations, or campaign support. Invite followers to visit your nonprofit’s blog, sign up to volunteer for fundraising, or simply donate.
instagram for nonprofits

5. Love Has No Labels

Love Has No Labels is a movement to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability. They believe love is the most powerful force to overcome bias. They celebrate diversity and encourage people to come together, believing in ‘together we can create a more inclusive world’.

What we can learn from Love Has No Labels?

  • UGC. User-Generated Content has been key to the success of Love Has No Labels. Their Valentine’s Day campaign, created with digital agency R/GA went viral. It generated more than 164 million views and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. Invite your audience to join you by taking pictures, videos, writing stories and captions. Use the content on your Instagram. This will increase your reach and help you build a stronger supporter base.
  • Post useful information. Love Has No Labels posted “inclusion tips”, helping those whose friends are newly open about their LGBTQ+ identity help them. They also shared useful statistics about how diversity increases sales revenues in companies, encouraging a different take on how diversity can matter.
nonprofits on instagram

6. DoSomething

DoSomething is the largest not-for-profit exclusively for young people and social change. DoSomething’s millions of members represent every US area code and 131 countries.

They encourage their members, through their digital platform, to join their volunteer, social change, and civic action campaigns to make real-world impact on causes they care about.

What we can learn from DoSomething?

  • Speak to your audience. DoSomething does this exceptionally well. Since their audience is predominantly young people, Gen Y and Gen Z, they run their Instagram accordingly. Their Instagram page is filled with relatable memes, videos, quotes, and speaks in the language of its audience. Before creating any kind of content or content strategy, make sure you know your audience.
  • Take advantage of Instagram Stories. DoSomething has multiple Instagram Story Highlights. Story highlights are collections of images and videos that can be ‘pinned’ to your Instagram profile indefinitely. As Instagram story expires after 24 hours, these highlights can be used to broadcast your most important information.
  • Create custom illustrations. For Thumb Wars, a campaign that aims to aims to stop texting and driving, DoSomething took the illustration approach. Illustrations can make a serious topic like texting and driving and make it more approachable and relatable.
instagram for nonprofits

7. Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution is a global movement working towards raising awareness around the true cost of fashion, and sustainability in the fashion industry. They are uniting people and organizations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way.

Fashion Revolution celebrates fashion as a positive influence while also scrutinizing industry practices and raising awareness of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues. They aim to show that change is possible and seek to encourage those who are on a journey to create a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion.

What we can learn from the Fashion Revolution?

  • Post a variety of content. Fashion Revolution has a fantastic balance of inspirational quotes, pictures of their supporters from around the world and infographics.
  • Make information fun and interesting. Fashion Revolution is heading the game with this one. They present important information appealingly– through bright infographics or thoughtfully created memes.
  • Use Instagram’s full potential. Fashion Revolution organized a live Instagram chat unpacking the issues on fashion waste, from offcuts and incinerated stock to landfills the global journey of secondhand clothes. They also engaged with their audience by taking community questions on the Instagram Stories question widget.
instagram tips nonprofits

Additional Instagram Tips

Be Recognizable

Every nonprofit in the list above is recognizable. It’s essential to have your brand incorporated in most images in the form of your logo, a color, or your name.

Until some years ago if you wanted to design a branded image from scratch, you had to find a designer or use Photoshop. These days there are loads of great websites that offer pre-designed templates that you can tweak to fit your needs with minimal effort.

Keep it Authentic

While high-quality images and videos are crucial when posting on a visual platform like Instagram, it’s important to keep the human feel. People tend to have a deeper connection with the brands they follow on Instagram, so don’t be afraid to post some behind-the-scenes office shots, for example.

Read more about how to get the most out of Instagram in our blog post Top 10 Instagram Tips for the Modern Nonprofit.


In Conclusion

Instagram doesn’t have to be intimidating. Creating content for Instagram doesn’t have to be dreary.

Instagram is the perfect place for nonprofits to share their missions, engage supporters, and build communities of brand advocates. Instagram can help you with one of the main challenges of nonprofits’ marketing: to inspire people to make a difference for people they’ve never met.