Instagram LogoHow many times have you heard a picture is worth a thousand words? We all know how powerful an image is. How the message can be conveyed with a single glance. How it can stay imprinted in your mind’s eye long after you’ve seen it. What if you could translate your organization’s mission through photos? What if you could connect your constituents to the work you’re doing and the impact you’re making, just by snapping a photo from your mobile phone? Well, I’m here to tell you all of that is possible and more with a powerful and free application called Instagram. And many non-profits are already doing it.

Earlier this summer, Mashable posted a great article titled 10 Inspiring Non-Profits on Instagram. Matt Pentronzio highlights that non-profits who are looking to expand their social reach are using the photo sharing platform as a way to do just that. He showcases “10 non-profits who post particularly beautiful and inspiring images”.

Let me back up for a second and explain what Instagram is to those of you who may not know. Taken directly from the FAQ on the Instagram website it says, “Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever.” The plain version is that it’s like twitter (the use of hashtags) and Facebook (you can follow friends and have them follow back) for photos and you can only access the application through your iPhone or Android.

I’m a huge Instagram user and lover. I’ve often said that before I’ve even eaten breakfast, I feel like I’ve made a trip around world. I follow people all over Ireland, in Paris, Switzerland, Canada and all over the United States. It’s exposed me to the world of mobile photography in a way that I never would have if Instagram hadn’t come along.

What I love about the Mashable article, is that it puts the focus on, and opens up the conversation to, how non-profits are, and can be, using Instagram to further their reach and impact on constituents all around the world. I took a look through the photo streams of the non-profits highlighted and walked away with a few thoughts I wanted to share:

  • Images are powerful. They allow the person on the other end to feel the emotions and participate in the experience of what they’re looking at. These photos have the ability to connect followers to the organization’s mission in a very simple, easy and impactful way.
  • Instagram offers non-profits an opportunity to educate their followers on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. One non-profit that really pulled me in was charity: water. They’re bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. And apart from their photos being awe-inspiring and beautiful, I learned a lot and really enjoyed seeing the work in action. I urge you take a look at their photos on Instagram to see how your organization can make a similar impact.
  • During a time when we’re looking for ways to engage and connect with our constituents, Instagram provides the perfect platform to extend that in a different direction. Charity water, for example, has over 50,000 followers! That’s a massively impressive number of people to connect with. An organization’s ability to get a message across through a photo is only limited by someone’s imagination.

I get that there’s been a social media explosion for quite some time. And the thought of adding one more communication channel to your organization may not be that appealing. But it’s most certainly one worth considering. Organizations are using Instagram to introduce followers to their staff, to spread their message, to showcase their work and to recruit participants, volunteers and donors. Most importantly, they’re offering followers a way to be actively engaged with and inspired by the work of their organization.

If your organization is currently using Instagram, make sure your constituents know how to find you. The photos you share convey a really important story of passion and progress, of commitment and change. Bring them along for that visually stunning and appealing ride. And if you’re not currently using Instagram, I’d suggest you read the (short!) article and allow yourself to get lost in the photos that these non-profits have posted, and then consider if it’s a good fit for your organization.

Molly Fast is a passionate advocate of event fundraising and customer service. She has been working as an event fundraiser since 2002 and with Event 360 since 2004. As the daughter of a 13-year breast cancer survivor, cancer has hit very close to home and Molly has dedicated herself to helping others see their potential in making this world a better place. At Event 360, Molly gets to combine her love of customer service with event fundraising. You can check out Molly’s Instagram feed here. You can also find Molly on Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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