Instagram Stories for Nonprofits

When Instagram launched its ‘Stories’ feature back in August 2016, most people saw it as a rip off of Snapchat. But now that we’ve had some time to get to know Instagram Stories, we can confidently say that the feature is a lot more than a Snapchat copycat, and it can be a great addition to your nonprofit’s social media arsenal.


Here’s what you need to know about Instagram Stories:

  • The ‘Stories’ feature is a new way for users to share photos and videos on Instagram
  • Only photos and videos that were taken within the feature or that were added to your camera roll within the past day can be shared as your story
  • Instagram Stories can be seen for just 24 hours before they disappear
  • Photos and videos shared to your ‘Story’ don’t live on your profile’s ‘grid’ or on your follower’s feed- the content exists only in the ‘Stories’ bar at the top of the app.
  • Stories are a series of videos or photos, all capped at 10 seconds, but you can add as many as you want. So you can add a 10 second video, followed by a photo that shows for 10 seconds, followed by 4 more 10 second videos, and they’ll appear one after another


Why should your organization test out Instagram Stories?

  • They can help you ‘beat the algorithm’
    • Instagram’s new algorithm filters users’ feeds to show posts they’ll be most interested in at the top. This means your content can get buried way down on your followers’ feed, even if it’s a recent post. By posting a story that by default lives at the top of the app, you can stay in your followers’ view.
  • You probably already have an audience on Instagram
    • While Snapchat gives you a platform to share similar content, it is one of the hardest platforms to build an audience on. Without the hashtags, recommended accounts, location tagging options, search and ‘Explore’ sections that Twitter and Instagram have, it’s difficult to attract followers to your account. With Instagram Stories, you are simply providing more content to an audience you (probably) already have, which will save you a ton of time. Take Nike for example: they shared an Instagram story that got 800k views, compared to their Snapchat story which got just 66k.
  • There’s (some) data!
    • Snapchat doesn’t provide clear numbers on how many followers you have, who watches your content, or how much of it they watch, which can leave you feeling like you’re shouting into the abyss. Instagram, however, gives you access to these metrics. You already know your follower count, and Instagram puts a clean number on story views and view rate (how much of your story your users actually watched). This is crucial in understanding what content works!


How should my nonprofit use Instagram Stories?

  • Tell a story. Unlike your Instagram profile, which is likely made up of polished and posed photos, Instagram Stories are much more casual. Use the successive video feature to tell full-length stories and show events or ideas as they unfold. Also, it’s still too soon to tell, but due to its Snapchat-like feel, we’re guessing that video is probably going to dominate the space. So if your org isn’t video-savvy yet, start testing it out!
  • Use analytics. Instagram now offers insights if your account is set up as a business profile (which, if you’re a nonprofit, it should be!). Use this information to get to know your followers. When are they active on the platform? Does the demographic information help inform your content? What content is already performing well? Use this information to understand what you should be sharing and when.
  • Connect with your followers. Instagram Stories make it easy for users to send you a message as a response to your story. Take full advantage of this and encourage users to send you a message. This promotes 1:1 engagement with people in your audience that you may not have reached otherwise. Just make sure you have somebody monitoring and ready to respond!
  • Don’t stress. The casual and spontaneous nature of this feature gives you a ton of room to experiment.


How are other nonprofits using Instagram Stories?

Nonprofits are using Instagram Stories to showcase their impact, go behind the scenes at events, and, of course, share photos and videos of animals. shared text images on their story to draw attention to an issue and urge users to help out. This call to action is tied directly to their mission and takes full advantage of the messaging feature. instagram story instagram story


New Story
New Story used the new feature to showcase the work they do, building homes for communities in need, and the impact, improving the lives of the people in the community.

new story instagram story new story instagram story


Big Sunday
Big Sunday shared multiple behind the scenes photos and videos of volunteers making flower arrangements to be donated to a local senior home.

Big Sunday instagram story Big Sunday instagram story Big Sunday instagram story


Keep A Breast Foundation
Keep A Breast Foundation shared videos of their furry office visitor because puppies still are, and probably always will be, social media gold.

keep a breast foundation instagram story  keep a breast foundation instagram story  keep a breast foundation instagram story


Charity: water, the James Beard Foundation, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and Oxfam America have also used Instagram Stories to show their impact, their work, and to go behind the scenes at important events.

charity:water instagram story   james beard foundation instagram story  catskill animal sanctuary instagram story  oxfam instagram story


Has your nonprofit used Instagram Stories? Let us know @WholeWhale!


Want more tips like these? Check out our newest Whole Whale University course! We’ll teach you how to drive nonprofit impact using engagement data and how to be your own social media guru.