4 Tips to Engage Donors on Instagram Like a Pro

Marketing and Social Media

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Are you engaging donors on Instagram? If not, it’s time to start. With one billion active monthly users, Instagram offers a low cost, highly effective way for nonprofits to expand their reach, engage supporters, and raise money.

In truth, if you aren’t strategically using Instagram marketing, you’re probably leaving money on the table. Consider this: 21.2 percent of peer-to-peer fundraising dollars come through social media.

The good news is that smaller organizations that take the DIY approach in the marketing department can get in the game with a little advanced planning and dedicated time.

Read on for four easy-to-implement tips for working Instagram like a pro without having a pro on staff.

1. Decide what you want

The first step toward reaching your donor engagement goals using Instagram is to figure out what those goals are.

To start, you might consider the question, “What does our organization look like a year from now if we successfully engage donors on Instagram?” Some ideas that might come to mind are dollars raised, sponsorships secured, or new opportunities made available to support your mission.

Now that you have a better understanding of what you want to achieve, set two to three overarching goals that will help get you there.

Here’s an example:

  • Goal #1: Promote brand and build trust
  • Goal #2: Position organization as a leader in the field
  • Goal #3: Recognize donors & partners

These goals will provide a road map for your Instagram donor engagement strategy.

2. Use a content calendar

The content calendar is the heart of any successful social media strategy: it helps pump out content at a nice, steady rhythm. And, it helps to ensure that you’re consistently, strategically moving toward your donor engagement goals.

Your content calendar does not have to be complicated. Begin by deciding what type of content you’d like to post consistently and how often. An excellent content calendar will tie strategically to your donor engagement goals.

Here’s a basic, sample calendar that correlates with the example goals outlined above:

  • Mondays: What we’re up to post (Ties to example goal #1: Promote brand and build trust)
  • Wednesdays: Fact, stat, or quote post (Ties to example goal #2: Position organization as a leader in the field)
  • Fridays: Shout out post (ties to example goal #3: Recognize donors & partners)

Once you have your calendar in place, managing Instagram will feel much easier and less time-consuming. You can create posts in advance with ready-made templates, schedule them out using an online tool, and the content will flow. No more reinventing the wheel trying to decide what to post every day—or worse, going dark on your followers for a month only to post ten times in a week to catch up.

Once you have your primary content planned and scheduled, you’ll have creative energy to put toward spontaneous, in-the-moment posts.

Don’t forget to tag your donors and partners in your posts and to use hashtags to make sure they’re discoverable.

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3. Choose the right hashtags

The strategic use of hashtags is the key to getting your content seen, reaching new followers, and—ultimately—engaging donors. So, what are hashtags? Hashtags are a way to catalog your posts so that they’re discoverable for interested parties. When someone clicks or searches a hashtag you’ve used, they’ll (ideally) find your photo, video, or graphic.

The trick is to use targeted hashtags so that the right people see your posts. The best hashtags are specific. Broad hashtags, while often popular, give your post little chance of standing out, or even showing up.

There are several ways for nonprofits to find great hashtags—here are two to get you started: 1) take a look at other nonprofits’ Instagram pages (especially if they have related missions) and see what hashtags they’re using; 2) insert a relevant keyword into Instagram’s search function and see what suggestions you get.

A great way to stay organized is by creating a spreadsheet to list hashtags according to each specific donor audience (e.g., sponsors, individual donors, corporate partners, etc.) so that you can copy & paste the most relevant group of hashtags to each different post.

If you’re using Instagram business (which you really should be), you can use the Instagram Insights feature to evaluate how effectively your hashtags are engaging your audience and make changes accordingly.

4. Don’t forget to participate

If donor engagement on Instagram is ultimately your goal, you will have to do just that—ENGAGE! Much like an in-person networking event, you most likely will have to muster up the courage on Instagram to start the conversation and pass your proverbial business card.

Hashtags are a great way to connect with current and potential donors. Start by visiting a donor’s Instagram profile and then comment on one of their posts. The person who created the post will get a notification and may click on your username to see what you’re about. If they like what they see, you may earn yourself a new follower who will engage with your content. This process is the circle of Instagram engagement, and it’s up to you to keep it going!

A great strategy to stay in the loop to expand your reach and deepen engagement is to set aside time to participate on Instagram. Also, follow other nonprofits on Instagram to see what they’re up to for inspiration when you hit a wall with content ideas.

Whether you can spend time on the platform daily or monthly, put it on your calendar and tend to it like every other task on your to-do list that moves you toward your goals.

About the author

amber ooley headshot

Amber Ooley is the digital marketing manager at Thrive, a full-service digital marketing agency. Amber lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves creating engaging content and helping small businesses grow. When she’s not online, you’ll find her hiking through the woods or cozied up with a good book.

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