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Non-profits are utilizing Pinterest as an extension of their organizations, using photography, infographics and other visuals to show supporters more about their missions. Pinterest’s goal is to connect “people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” Non-profits, then, can use the social site to connect people based on their social passions, and since non-profits work with and for the community, Pinterest can certainly come in handy. Last week, we covered 10 non-profits that are particularly awesome at leveraging Pinterest for social good, but how did they get there? What are their strategies?
Here are 10 tips from non-profits that are currently using Pinterest. With these suggestions in your back pocket, your own organization can further (or even reinvent) its image in no time.
1. Know Your Audience
It’s important to understand who is using Pinterest before you start branding through the network. Of Pinterest’s 10 million+ users, 87% are women, and the average age of users spans between 25 and 54. So, what do you do with this information? How do you know what to pin?
Daljit Singh, office manager intern at Jolkona and curator of the organization’s Pinterest, says that a fun project helped. The staff of the non-profit, which is a web platform that connects you with global development projects and shows you the impact of your donation, asked: If Jolkona were a person, who would it be? They decided that Jolkona would be a woman in her mid-to-late 20s with mixed ethnicity. She would also drink coffee, ride the bus and listen to indie rock.
“Because so many of our regular online donors match the demographic of users on Pinterest,” says Singh, “it wasn’t really a question of if we should request an invite, but rather when we would receive an invite.”
Jolkona tries to keep its pins colorful, light, creative and relevant to the non-profit’s mission. Whenever Singh needs to determine if a pin is relevant, she can think back to the description of Jolkona as a person.
2. Get Personal
When it comes to social media, users respond better to personal influence than widespread branding.
Sarah Cohen, communications and development manager at charity: water, a non-profit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, says it’s important for staff members who are pinning to be familiar with Pinterest and really love the site. “Our staff is young, curious and hungry for information,” she says. “We love sharing books we’ve read, bands we just checked out, the newest gadget or some new gear for the field.”
3. Reveal Yourself
Give your followers a look at your non-profit from behind the scenes. Pin images that show staff and volunteers working with your organization, as well as those who benefit from that work. It’s a good idea to show supporters the human faces behind your logo.
When the Jolkona staff looked at its Facebook statistics, they found that the most engagement came from posting visuals. “At first, Pinterest was a great place to find new infographics and pictures to provide content for Facebook and our blog,” says Singh. “However, as we started gaining new followers, our strategy changed and we decided it was best to pin things…that help show our audience who we really are.” You can find various campaigns, projects, goals and photos of staff members and volunteers on Jolkona’s Pinterest page.
The folks at charity: water have a board called “Photo of the Day,” a concept that founder Scott Harrison came up with in 2009 for the organization’s Twitter page. Mo Scarpelli, the multimedia producer at charity: water, says, “Many of our followers [on Pinterest and Twitter] look to the POD as a daily source of inspiration and hope, a reminder that we can change (and are already changing) the water crisis.”
Cohen adds, “This idea of showing the impact is core to the work we do…The spirit and the joy of our photography was a perfect fit for the optimistic nature of [Pinterest].”
4. Focus on the Achievable
It has become a trend for individuals to use Pinterest for dreams — dream houses, dream weddings, etc. But as a non-profit organization, you’re all about making things possible.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network‘s mission is to advance research, support patients and create hope. “Our goal is to provide helpful content for all individuals who have been affected by pancreatic cancer,” says Laura Behrman, social media manager at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, “whether they are a survivor, have a loved one diagnosed with the disease or have lost a friend. In an effort to attract more support for our efforts, we are educating the general public about the organization and the disease through Pinterest.”
For charity: water, Cohen says the staff “looks to inspire our supporters with images of hope and opportunity that the water crisis is solvable.”
5. Make It a Team Effort
Get various staff members involved with your organization’s Pinterest to diversify your boards and flesh them out.
A recently added charity: water board is “Products We Love.” Cohen says that the board is comprised of brands the staff admires, most of which “are partnering with a non-profit or have a philanthropic component to their business model, like Feed Projects, TOMS and Falling Whistles.”
You don’t necessarily need to have multiple staffers use the Pinterest account directly. At the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, for example, Behrman is currently the only one pinning, but employees and volunteers contribute ideas and repin on their personal boards.
Pinterest makes it extremely simple to sell various items, helping you raise money for your non-profit. Whether it’s a t-shirt with your company logo or an inspiring poster, all you need to do is pin the image and type the “$” sign with the price in the description box. Pinterest automatically adds a nifty banner in the top-left corner of the image, displaying the cost, and the item will be added to the Gifts tab on the Pinterest homepage.
7. Repin/Highlight Other Non-Profits
Like all forms of social media, Pinterest isn’t a place to over-promote. Avoid this is by mixing original pinning with repins of images from other non-profits within your sphere of influence. Users receive an email notification when their images are repinned and they are credited on your repin, which can increase their following. The non-profit you repin may return the favor, allowing Pinterest to become a channel for valuable, non-disruptive cross-promotion.
8. Add Pinterest to Your Website/Project Pages
This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked with new networks. You can add various Pinterest “goodies” (a “pin it” button, follow button, logos, etc.) not only to your homepage, but also to project pages for more exposure.
9. Pin Videos
Videos aren’t very common on Pinterest, but they’re on the rise. YouTube videos are especially easy to add, and Pinterest even has a special section for pinned videos.
SEE ALSO: Need More YouTube Views? Try Pinterest
Jolkona’s “Campaigns” board consists of numerous videos. Singh says that people are more likely to donate when they’re asked. “We wanted to make sure that that happens interactively online, so we offer [the] online campaign feature, which allows our donors to honor a special person, celebrate a birthday or special milestone, or just show the impact you and colleagues or friends can have on the world…Videos offer an added emotion and call to action that pictures sometimes don’t.”
She admits that Jolkona hasn’t received many repins for videos, but it has helped to increase traffic to the blog and adds something interesting to the Pinterest page. “There are far fewer videos than images on Pinterest at this point, so use them to distinguish [your non-profit],” Singh advises.
10. Be Inviting
Pinning can sometimes seem like an individualized, solitary action, but it’s important to interact with others and keep community in mind. For non-profits, Pinterest is more than just posting interesting visuals — if used properly, it can be an extension of your organization and, when applicable, a support system.
Through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Pinterest, says Behrman, “We create a community that is inviting for others to share their story and connect with not just our organization, but with others going through a similar experience.”