Instagram for Nonprofits

Growth Strategies for Instagram Fundraising


As a nonprofit marketer and fundraiser, I spend a lot of time on Instagram. My own Instagram account (@causespecialist) provides tips and tricks for fundraising and nonprofit marketing, so I follow a ton of amazing organizations that are killing it on Instagram. I also see nonprofits that could be doing so much better in terms of their Instagram growth and Instagram fundraising.


We all know how hard it is to fundraise without a dedicated following, so I want to share some tips for Instagram growth strategies for fundraising on Instagram.


First, I assume that you already have an active Instagram account, so I'm not going to walk you through all the different settings. However, I want you to make sure that your account is set up as a professional business account. This is super important for several reasons.

  • It gives your registered charity the ability to sign up for the Instagram fundraising features.

  • Many people do not follow private accounts. There's something that feels creepy about requesting to follow an account that is private.

  • Being a professional account also gives you access to better analytics.


SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS

Before we dig in, here are some quick tips on setting up your profile to maximize growth and fundraising on Instagram for your nonprofit. The profile picture can be your logo, but make sure it is sized appropriately and should fit in the circle. It can also be an image that visually explains what your channel is about. Perhaps your charity doesn't have a very good logo. You can use a picture that better describes your channel and mission and add your charity name.


Pro tip: I cheat and use Canva for many graphics and posts. I even deleted my Adobe account because Canva is so awesome. I can do pretty much everything that I did in InDesign and Photoshop with Canva.

Next is the name. This is just something I do, but I rarely use the actual name. I use this as a subhead. If you look at my Instagram account, you see that my username is my company name, so why repeat it in the name section. Instead, my name explains what we do. I also use emojis sometimes for a little extra attention grab. When people are scrolling through, they see the picture, the account username, and then the name, so you have those three things to catch people's attention and make them want to follow you. Perhaps your username is taken. You can also reverse this and pick a username that explains what you do and use the name section for your charity name.


Pro tip: I use a program called Linktree for the website. Instagram only allows for one URL. This cool little program bounces you over to another page where you can have multiple links to your website, campaigns, YouTube channel, or other social media. It's super easy to set up and use and has many great features.

We want the bio to be keyword rich and include hashtags and a call to action. Keyword rich simply means that we want to use words that people will be searching for. If you are a domestic violence charity, you want to have domestic violence in your bio so that people searching for domestic violence charities can easily find you. Try to include the who, what, when, where, why, and how in the 30 allowable characters. This takes some creativity, but it helps encourage people to follow and get to know your charity.


There are many other settings under profile information as well as in the settings section, so I suggest going through each and everyone and making sure that everything is as it should be. Such as category, I'm surprised how many nonprofits are not using this category.



FUNDRAISING FEATURES

It is also essential to be a Facebook-approved charity to access the fundraising features on Instagram and that your Instagram and Facebook are connected. Simply go to Facebook, click publishing tool, fundraising, and donation settings. Then pop back to Instagram, settings, business, donate and toggle to add a donate button.



CONTENT STRATEGY

I'm going to make a couple of other assumptions here. You've done your persona work, and you understand who your audience and prospective donor are. I am also assuming that you already have your brand guidelines, which will help you stay consistent with your colours, fonts, and overall look for your channel. We know that our grid should be visually pleasing. Finally, you have your content strategy!


Make sure to use a content mix of:

  • Reels - keeping in mind they need to excite and entertain

  • Carousels

  • Posts

  • Stories (taking full advantage of all the features such as links, polls, donate stickers, etc.)

  • Sharing

The Instagram algorithm is constantly changing. For example, at the time of this article, hashtags in stories have become entirely irrelevant. One thing that has not changed over the years is that by using a combination of different content formats and paying attention to your analytics, you cannot fail. If reels are working, keep using them as part of your strategy until they stop working. If carousels are keeping people on your post longer and boosting engagement, keep using carousels until they stop working. Analyzing and revising your strategy is one of the keys to success.


Pro Tip: Remember that posts should entertain, educate, motivate, or solve problems, and keeping people on your posts longer with solid captions is a great way to get noticed.

Also, get creative with custom highlights and guides. It is super easy to create custom highlight cover photos. I just make them in Canva, save them on my iPad, click edit cover, and upload.



GROWTH STRATEGIES

Now that your profile is optimized and you have some great content to put out there let's talk about two options for Instagram growth strategies.


This is just what I would do if I were handling your account. There are many methods, but I have found this to be the most effective for growing nonprofit accounts on Instagram.


Step 1:

I find and follow similar accounts. Let's say that I am with an addiction treatment center. I will find other addiction and recovery Instagram accounts, and I will like and comment on their posts and follow them. Typically, they will follow back.


Step 2:

I will then look at the people and companies who comment and like their posts and go down a rabbit hole of sorts liking and commenting on theirs while I follow them. The end result is making connections with similar channels and their followers. These are active followers because they have been liking and commenting on other channels. The people plus button can also help you find like accounts, but they might not be as active on IG.


Step 3:

I follow any prospective donors. As a fundraiser, I am always looking for prospective donors. Instagram is an excellent way of searching out leads and researching.


Step 4:

I also follow niche-specific hashtags and follow the same process for those posts.


Step 5:

If someone follows me and they are in the same niche or a prospective donor, I follow back - unless they are private.


You might be asking, isn't it distracting following so many accounts. My answer is no because it provides more opportunities to find new followers and supporters.


Pro Tip: There are apps that allow you to unfollow any of the accounts that aren't following you back.

There also is the get followed method is a bit harder to do. It requires regular posting with great content and a good hashtag strategy. You still like and comment on posts, but you don't follow them and hope they follow you. I personally find this method snobbish. I'm on Instagram to build relationships that will help me with fundraising and marketing.


Lots of people use tagging, which I do not do. It's just a personal preference, but I only tag when it's appropriate and expected. There are still many follow/unfollowers out there, but this is never recommended. It's just bad form. You can generally spot them, and it tends to turn people off the brand.


This is why it is so important to set your profile up properly. Suppose you are liking and commenting on similar channels. In that case, people will see you and automatically know what you do and follow you. If your profile is vague, people won't be inclined to learn more about you.


Bonus tips:

  • Always try and thank people for following me or following me back

  • I always like and comment back. It's just good form.

  • Video or voice messages are a great feature when used appropriately

  • Never follow and unfollow.

  • Never buy followers because this can be spotted and affect your engagement rates.


ANALYTICS

Analytics is a great way to see what kind of rates you're getting. As I mentioned earlier, if reels are giving you great reach and you notice a significant uptake and followers, keep doing the reels. The algorithm loves when you get good engagement! A way of calculating your engagement is by:


  1. Add up all of your likes, saves, comments and shares for the month

  2. Divide that number by the number of posts you did that month, which will give you your average engagement rate per post

  3. Divide this number by your number of followers and multiply that number by 100


Three percent is average, but I always try to shoot for six.


Come say hi on Instagram