Launching Your Nonprofit on Instagram – Plan Carefully or Wing It?

If you’re totally new to the Instagram scene and are looking to gain quick momentum early on, one way of going about it is to tie your launch to an event or fundraiser.

Boys’ Club of New York did just that with a soft launch leading up to its fall fundraiser, during which guests were asked to provide even more exposure for the page by using a specific hashtag.

Starting a month out from the big day, BCNY’s Director of Communications, Helen Frank and her Special Events and Communications teams put a plan into action that would simultaneously promote the upcoming fundraiser and establish a curated Instagram environment for the anticipated first-time visitors to land.

“Luscious” is how Helen describes the vibe they set out to achieve, alternating daily posts between elegant, fashion-forward black and white images from past years’ events:

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And high-quality photos of everyday BCNY activities:

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The night of the event, guests were encouraged verbally and with prominent signage to use #IAMBCNY to tag Instagram posts of themselves enjoying the evening.

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Pro-tip: Helen also rallied a small group of volunteer “moles” with public Instagram profiles to infiltrate the crowd and build chatter around the hashtag. She gave them a mini media training with examples of appropriate posts and set them loose. Since the Fall Dance, BCNY’s Instagram following has grown to over 400.

BCNY’s launch strategy included goals for total posts and follower gain, a listing of relevant hashtag and tagging options as well as an editorial calendar broken into day, post topic/theme, and content.

But just winging it can work too if the conditions are right.

Just ask Thomas Negron, director of communications for Catskill Animal Sanctuary. He took a more laid-back approach, opting to “just jump in and start posting” around a year and a half ago. A couple viral posts later (like this one) and the CAS Instagram account has around 20,000 followers.

I’m ready for my close-up!

A video posted by Catskill Animal Sanctuary (@catskill_animal_sanctuary) on


The takeaway?

Do what’s best for your nonprofit and your audience. If you have an anchoring event that you can build on, take advantage of it. If not, just dive in!

Already on Instagram? How did you get started? Share in the comments…



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Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

I am the Community Engagement Manager at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com.

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