top of page

Nonprofit Instagram Reels - How To Make Them Work

Since its launch in 2020, Instagram reels have quickly become the best way to expand your reach on Instagram. I know this because I have tested it. I manage many different IG accounts and have a lot of experience on Instagram.

As Hootsuite Reels Experiment proved, reels truly are favoured by the algorithm. Reels have a higher view rate than regular posts, and they show up on more users' feeds which means your reels reach a wider audience.

An Instagram reel is a great way to show off your organization and its impact in just up to 60-seconds of video. They are a valuable tool for any charity on Instagram and are not as hard to create as you would think.

So, Here's how to make it happen.

Good Video Quality

When you drill down deeper into Hootsuite’s Reels Experiment, you see that video quality is crucial to any reel. Instagram has mentioned that the algorithm deprioritizes blurry and low-quality videos. You can control video quality by using a good camera. Most smartphones have excellent cameras nowadays. I recommend a tripod instead of holding the camera to avoid shaky videos.

Good Audio

Good audio is also a must. I use a lapel mic, and when shooting reels outside, I use a fuzzy pop filter to help cut down on any wind.

Good Lighting

You can use round or standard photo lights, but the important thing is to use lights when you don't have natural sunlight. The goal is to have a bright, eye-catching video.

Have a Strong Hook.

Platforms like Instagram and TikTok make it easy to consume a lot of content in a short period. It is equally as easy to scroll past content that doesn’t immediately grab your attention. A great way to hook viewers into your reel is to make an attention-grabbing opening. This can be a creative use of sound or visuals, a profound statement, or a question that viewers can't ignore. Give viewers a reason to continue watching the rest of your reel. Instagram favours videos that are watched until the end (or, even better, multiple times).

Here’s what Instagram says about the reels you create. “People tell us they want to see entertaining, funny, and interesting content in places like the Reels tab, and we’ve gotten better at recommending that.”

Keep it Short and Sweet

Instagram reels can go up to 60 seconds long, but you don't have to use them all this time. Often the best video time is about 15 seconds. You want to give enough information and visual content without the video dragging on. I also try to keep my reels to 15 seconds because I can then re-purposed them for the perfect story post. I am all about repurposing content!

Adding Captions

Adding captions to your videos can be used as a way to hook in an audience. The videos are often played without sound, so having a caption can help draw people in to read more. For the same reason, many people at subtitles to their videos. Users can watch and understand without clicking on the video to add sound. Great captions also keep people on your post for longer, which once again, the algorithm likes.

Placement of Reels

The aspect ratio is super important when shooting reels. A few things stay on the screen while your video is playing, such as the like, share and comment buttons. Ensure that your video's graphics or other points of interest avoid the bottom and right sides of the screen. Because reels play in the feed, your video can be viewed in two different aspect ratios. The feed view is a 4x5 rectangle, and the reels screen is a 9x16 rectangle. So, before posting your reel, ensure everything you want to be visible is in the frame in both views.

Hop on Trends

Trends are a fun way to engage with your audience, are easy to produce, and have more visibility on the platform. You just have to find a trend (either on Instagram or TikTok) that you want to participate in and go from there. You can even show off your creative side and experiment with the idea; make it fit your nonprofit's brand.

Repurposing Other Content

The reels feature is commonly referred to as Instagram's response to TikTok. This means both formats are used similarly. Therefore, if you already have a TikTok presence, you can repurpose those videos on Instagram. However, I wouldn't use the watermarked version of your TikToks. This may require some editing, reforming, adding music, etc. Still, the versatility of the reels format allows for any video content (or even text content) to be reposted.

Instagram also recently released remix, which is their version of TikTok's duets. You can upload a video next to another user's, building on top of the original clip.

Best Times to Post

According to Hootsuite, the best time to post reels is 9 AM and 12 PM, Monday to Thursday. You can also use your analytics to help determine the best time to post based on your audience. Go to your Insights, the audience, and scroll down to see which days of the week and times your followers are the most active on Instagram.

Instagram reels are a great way to 'reel' in potential followers/donors and engage your current ones. We hope you found them helpful. If you need help putting together a social fundraising campaign or want more advice on making the most of your Instagram account, don't hesitate to call us. Our team is always happy to help nonprofit organizations achieve their fundraising goals.

Come say 'hi' on Instagram

As always, if you prefer to watch over read check out our YouTube videos on Instagram:


Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter containing tips, tricks, tactics and technology for fundraising and nonprofit marketing!


bottom of page