5 Non-Profits with the Strongest Instagram Game

YLD highlights five great Instagram accounts run by non-profits and the insights they offer.

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Social media is hard, especially for non-profits. Limited time, limited resources, and a limited staff make it feel impossible to stand out. We’ve put together five great Instagram accounts from non-profits, in no particular order, and what you can learn from each one. 

  1. @AllianceDefendingFreedom

Share the big headlines. They give case updates and victories, which lets people know what they’re doing, gets them to care about it, and helps them stay connected to the cause. 

Rely on photos, not graphics. Consider putting your OGC (on graphic copy) over photos instead of a plain background. If it can’t be a carousel, it can probably go on a photo. Just remember to bump the contrast or add a filter to the photo so the text can pop.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CxGF7fJsTK2/?hl=en-gb 

Use your other content as social media posts. You have content around you if you look for it! Screenshots of tweets, article headlines, statistics from a study. If you have a lot of info, carousels are an effective and easy tool to make it engaging. ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/C0EqQFdudBQ/?hl=en-gb&img_index=1 

Carousels!! Get used to this recommendation. Carousels are the easiest way to triple your engagement with minimal effort. Instead of posting one photo or graphic, post two or more. This is a great way to present a lot of information in an easily consumable way. ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CwnH_pyu2kj/?hl=en-gb&img_index=4 

Tell people’s stories! Most content should be people-centered. Stories and victories are connected to people. Don’t just share a victory, but share the impact of that victory on someone’s life.  ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cyds5xprtp8/?hl=en-gb 

    1. @Heritage Foundation

Be Bold. Here’s the big hack for your 2024 content: BE BOLD. Bold graphics with short OGC. Content focused on people or influencers. Videos of a person saying something instead of an organization saying things. This is what you need to do to step up your content. Plus, less design = higher engagement AND less work for you. Score!

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/C0SBAxag-Ex/?hl=en-gb 

Have fun! Social media posts should do one of three things: entertain, inform, or make someone feel less alone. Mix professionalism with the inherent fun of social media. I know you’re scared. Most of our clients are, too. But I promise engagement will go up (results not guaranteed, but I do feel strongly about this).

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cz6bNbfufKk/?hl=en-gb 

Use visual aids. Use simple graphics or tweet screenshots that use checkmarks, arrows, emojis, and visual aids to catch the eye. Don’t go overboard or get too cartoony though, or your content will look amateurish. When in doubt, copy a successful organization’s style.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CygfjfINA82/?hl=en-gb 

Repurpose content that references your cause. The Heritage Foundation repurposes clips and tweets of politicians to make a point, support their cause, bring awareness, etc. Repurposing news content into a Reel brings awareness to a generation that consumes news from TikTok/Twitter and not news channels.

This tactic takes less time because you’re not filming, just editing. Use clips you show coworkers or react to yourself, and just reuse that for content. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/C0QRLhHo02z/?hl=en-gb 

Post Reels with bold subtitles. Speaks for itself. Video is king, so post them when you can. Also, a tip from a young Social Media Manager: Don’t overly brand your Reels. Let the video take up the full screen. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/C0SShH1gjJ4/?hl=en-gb

  1. @NationalParksService

Screenshot tweets. Again, sharing tweets is a great way to reuse content that is humorous, informative, or shares a hot take.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CzsKt5LucKm/ 

Feature close-up, incredible photography. Close-up photos about one or two subjects perform much better than wide shots or group photos. Be intentional with your photography, even if you’re just using your phone’s camera.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cz6qwrYuu84/

Embrace memes/humor. When you have a non-profit organization where it’s tough to think of content, like a National Parks Service, use humor and memes to add an extra layer to posts. Instead of just a picture of a bear, they use a funny caption to add to the story and make people come back to see what they will say next. Social media is so predictable now that humor is a great way to get people to come back for more. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cx_BgwVOjel/ 

Leverage user generated content (UGC). Strapped for content? Use what other people are saying about you. Check tagged posts, mentions, hashtags, reviews, etc., and create content out of that.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cst0yTUuKKI/?img_index=1 

  1. @JoniAndFriends

Be personal. Share the details you tell your friends when explaining the organization, and don’t make it sound too corporate! Speaking in corporate can make all your passion for the cause disappear. I’ve spoken to dozens of clients who run non-profits, and they have so much passion, know every detail and story, and have a wealth of content in their head. BUT their posts are generic. They lose passion in trying to be professional. On social media, worry more about sharing your excitement than sounding like a CEO.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CukTlGaMmq-/?hl=en-gb&img_index=1

Put a face on the organization. It’s the influencer generation, y’all! Instead of a faceless organization speaking, having Joni as the face makes every post more personal. Posts become more emotional and easy to connect with. Remember, people connect with people. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CyehyX4vQPz/?hl=en-gb 

Share resources. Joni & Friends uses carousels (wink wink, told you I won’t stop plugging this tactic) to share resources like prayers and info for medical help.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Czy3ctiuPEy/?hl=en-gb&img_index=1 

Simplicity is a hack for high-quality posts. Keeping everything simple is the best way to improve your content. Highly decorated graphics earned engagement 5–10 years ago, but now it’s all about simplicity. A graphic with a picture for a background and one short sentence on top can ease you into high-quality content. Stay tuned for our upcoming article about simple creative hacks for social media posts.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cwr7CTlrHfm/?hl=en-gb&img_index=1 

  1. @FOCUSCatholic

Bring classic art into modern graphics. If you have a more experienced graphic designer, bringing classic artwork into the modern age can become a compelling post (especially for faith-based non-profits). It’s a great way to repurpose hundreds of years of beauty. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cz88p-rOeqK/ 

Create bold, emotional posts. FOCUS addresses a lot of their audience’s problems directly through simple carousels. You know the pain points of your audience. Speak about them directly and guide them through it.

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CyPPmCouFch/?img_index=1 

Don’t shy away from emotional photos. FOCUS has beautiful graphics and emotional photos that draw you in. Share photos of emotion instead of posed photos. Made two executives laugh during the photo? Share that. Snapped a picture of someone deep in prayer at one of your conferences? Share that. We don’t know every person in FOCUS’ photos, but we see their emotion and want to know more. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CygJoPKRHnh/ 

Use photos to share info/updates. Instagram is about photos, and audiences increasingly ignore graphics. Use photos to share big updates. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cy4YB3WxwfT/ 

Offer updates and rules. Use social media as a place to share updates or event rules. If it’s a time-sensitive update, Instagram stories are the way to go since they disappear. You don’t want a ton of outdated content on your feed. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CzEMEm5xclh/ 

Capitalize on humor/relevant memes. Any audience likes humor, but especially the younger crowd. Follow young content creators or weekly email newsletters, like HeyOrca’s, to stay on top of the latest trends and hop on while it’s trendy, not after. 

ex. https://www.instagram.com/p/CydsUMvtEQ2/?img_index=3 

Bonus suggestion: Feel free to take inspiration from the best practices and tactics that these great non-profits use! Copy the styles of posts you see here until you get the hang of the style and content that feels right for you.

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