We’re confident that most people who are employed by non-profit organizations would agree that social media is one of the most unique, challenging, and exciting things that’s happened in their field in recent history. Since non-profit organizations are constantly seeking opportunities to secure funding for their respective causes, outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that offer free opportunities for exposure are incredibly appealing. The days of overspending on printed marketing materials and mailers are not over, to be sure, but many non-profits are saving money by effectively utilizing the social media outlets at their disposal.

While it’s obvious that the aforementioned social media outlets are great places to start promoting causes, there are other mediums that have gone relatively unnoticed – until now. We came across a fascinating article on Social Velocity’s blog called “Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too” that offered valuable insight on how charities can use pinning to their advantage. Social Velocity’s blog offers many tips about utilizing social media to its fullest potential, but the article about Pinterest especially caught our eye – after all, we love pinning ourselves. The online bulletin board of sorts is a social media site that allows users to “pin” images from all over the web, creating a way for them to organize their Internet findings. They can also make vision boards for projects or use these boards as places where they can gain inspiration.

Many for-profit companies have already jumped aboard the Pinterest train. Businesses like Kate Spade, Real Simple Magazine, Anthropologie, and Peacock Alley all have Pinterest accounts that they use on a consistent basis. These boards serve as places where people collaborate and share ideas as well as encourage and inspire one another by posting images that are visually appealing. Most brands don’t just post about their product; rather, they post images that their staff members personally like and that resonate with their overall brand and character (we think West Elm’s boards are a perfect example of this). This is a great way to avoid inundating consumers with incessant pitches about a company’s product – e-mail blasts, billboards, and catalogues already take care of that. Pinterest is a place that illustrates how interests consumers share with the companies that create the products they buy. Pinterest allows companies to highlight various parts about their work, certainly, but it also creates camaraderie between consumers and companies. This, in turn, has the welcomed effect of creating brand loyalty.

Non-profits can use the same approach. Naturally, all charitable organizations are seeking funding from donors. But it’s tiring for supporters to hear pitch after pitch about various fundraising campaigns, especially when these pitches are generated by online and print mediums and not by people, which is often a tactic used by non-profits who don’t have the personnel to manage every single donor on a personal level. Relationships are necessary for establishing long-term giving, yet many non-profits don’t have the staff or funding to reach every supporter in a meaningful way. Pinterest is a simple, free, fun way for non-profit employees to connect with their donors, supporters, and volunteers.

By posting meaningful items to their boards, non-profits can strike up conversations and exchange ideas with supporters using the site. They can create an effective visual platform that showcases their work while also sharing items that simply seek to inspire the people who follow their boards. By focusing on pinning images other than promotional pieces, there is room to discuss other topics, pursue other passions, and eventually open channels for communication and personal relationships. As it happens with business, Pinterest can evoke sentiments of solidarity amongst pinners, likening them to certain causes or organizations. This can lead support in varying forms, ranging from promotion of the non-profit’s cause through Pinterest or other social media outlets to financial contributions and long-term giving.

So if you work for a non-profit organization, how should you and your team get started?

1) Learn. First, get familiar with Pinterest itself – Mashable posted a great guide to learning about this online bulletin board.

2) Explore. Check out a list of other non-profit organizations that are utilizing Pinterest and gather ideas based on the types of things their staff members are pinning.

3) Brainstorm. Get together with your coworkers and identify the “personality” behind your Pinterest board – this will be the foundation for your board and it will help you navigate the Internet as you decide what to pin and what not to pin.

4) Stay true. Keeping consistent with your branding and personality will help potential supporters understand your cause and your work.

5) Have fun. At the end of the day, it is a platform that encourages community and creativity. Find ways to enrich the lives of others, certainly, but also take time to post items that are light-hearted, inspirational, and beautiful.


Photo credit: 4.bp.blogspot.com