Instagram Stories: How to Start Using Them for Your Nonprofit

Blog Post by Julia Campbell

Instagram Stories Nonprofit

What if Instagram Stories could help your nonprofit reach its’ audience?

The social media struggle, especially for nonprofits and social causes, is real.

Organic reach is plummeting on Facebook.

Twitter is removing millions of fake followers from users’ accounts.

300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Every day it seems to get harder to reach the people who care, let alone get new people into the fold and excited about your cause.

But, there is hope… enter Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories have been exploding in popularity – and not just for early adopters and celebrities like Busy Philipps (even though her Stories are a must-watch).

According to new research, more than 400 million people use the site’s newest and most popular feature – Instagram Stories – daily. That’s more than twice the number that use Snapchat on a daily basis.  

Even if your nonprofit is small and on a shoestring budget, there are several benefits to setting up and implementing a solid Instagram Story strategy:

  • Stories are incredibly popular and run in chronological order – no algorithm here!
  • Stories put a more human face on your nonprofit and make it more accessible.
  • Share real-time updates about news, announcements, campaigns, events, and more.
  • Create a sense of urgency and relevancy by sharing photos and video snippets as they happen.

Your nonprofit should always be trying to connect with and build up new audiences – don’t rule it out just b/c your baby boomer donors don’t use Stories.

And that coveted younger audience you want to reach so desperately? They are on there!

Ask yourself: Do people between 18-29 years old care about your work? Does it affect them? Do you want to get them more involved with and connect to your work?

Here are 5 ways to start using this powerful feature for your nonprofit.

1. Find your voice.

Before posting on any social media site, you need to spend some time figuring out your nonprofit’s voice. Will you be serious? Friendly? Casual? Accessible? Educational? Informative? Entertaining?

Write down adjectives that describe the way you want people to feel about your nonprofit and the Instagram Stories you are going to share. How do you want to sound? What impression do you want to leave? What do you want people to do after watching your Stories?

2. Know optimal Story lengths.

Every Instagram Story is different and completion rates will vary wildly across accounts. But if you want a benchmark,  Buffer partnered with Delmondo, to analyze 15,000 Instagram Stories and they found that seven stories is the optimal length. The number of times stories were watched from start to finish within 24 hours, drops below 70% after seven stories.


3. Make a posting schedule.

The best time to post Instagram Stories depends on your unique Instagram community and when they are using the app. You can study your Instagram Insights to find out when most of your followers are online and active.

Another ideal time to post Stories is in the moment! Depending on what you are featuring, you should be making a point to share events as they unfold. You can also add to your Stories later with photos and videos uploaded from your smartphone’s gallery.

Not surprisingly, research shows that the best time to post Instagram Stories is outside of work hours based on US Eastern Time. That’s when average completion time is the highest:

  • 4am – 6am Eastern Time
  • 8am – 10am Eastern Time
  • 12pm – 2pm Eastern Time
  • 8pm – 10pm Eastern Time

Join me for a 90-minute CharityHowTo webinar that will give you a step-by-step guide on How to Amplify Your Nonprofit’s Cause with Instagram Stories!

4. Put your best content first.

If your first story frame does not immediately capture the attention of your viewers, they will quickly exit your Stories in search of something else.

Make sure to feature your most eye-catching, intriguing, and interesting Stories content up front to grab those eyeballs and pique that curiousity!

5. Use apps to enhance your Stories.

A pro tip is to use a variety of mobile apps to edit and enhance your Stories content for better viewing and more audience engagement.

4 of my favorites apps to enhance your Instagram Stories:

Unfold is intuitive, incredibly easy to use, and you don’t have to login or make an account to use it. Choose from a number of template options, including ones for single images, ones for clusters of images, and ones with captions. Unfold also lets you upload directly to your Instagram Stories, or download the file to your camera roll and upload it at another desired time.

Canva can’t be beat for cost (free!) and ease-of-use. When you login, search for the Instagram Stories section, and find a template that you like. I love Canva because even the least arsy among us can customize these templates and make them our own. Save your creation to your phone and upload to Instagram Stories.

Hypetype adds fun, animated text in your Instagram Story. Play around with it because there are  a lot of different text animations and fonts available in this app. Upload a photo or video clip and add the animated text on top of it. Save the file to your phone and then add to your Story.

Clipomatic is a smart video editor that turns everything you say into live captions. All you have to do is hit the magical record button, speak clearly and your words will appear as stylish captions right on your recording. You can also enhance the video with one of the artistic filters provided. This captioning feature is something that should be included within Instagram, but until it is, using Clipomatic is a way to make sure that our deaf and hearing disabled online community members can participate in our Stories.

So, are you ready to give Instagram Stories a shot for your nonprofit?

Join me for a 90-minute CharityHowTo webinar that will give you a step-by-step guide on How to Amplify Your Nonprofit’s Cause with Instagram Stories!

About the Author

Julia Campbell is a digital marketing strategist and nonprofit technology evangelist, providing workshops, webinars and trainings to nonprofit professionals in organizations of all sizes. Using social media, email, blogging and online fundraising platforms, Julia has over a decade of history of helping nonprofits find success online. She founded J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency.

Check out all of Julia’s free and premium trainings at CharityHowTo here!