nonprofit employee seeing popular instagram reel

April 29, 2024 | Categories Featured, Fundraising Strategies

How to Engage New Donors with Instagram Storytelling

Are you a development director looking to acquire new donors and augment your organization’s impact? By now, you know that social media works wonders for expanding your reach. Still, it can be challenging to optimize your posts and inspire new donors to engage. That’s where strategic storytelling can help, and specifically, using Instagram Reels can be a game-changer for attracting potential supporters.

We recently hosted a webinar presented by multi-seven-figure business strategist Jordan Gill, who shared valuable insights on how nonprofits can use Instagram to connect with their ideal donors. Gill is skilled in helping nonprofits leverage innovative engagement tools like Reels and offered several strategies to guide the storytelling process.

Here are 5 tips for optimizing your Instagram presence and posting compelling content to acquire new donors:

1. Focus on relevant messaging

Donors can feel alienated by messaging that implies they must take certain actions to “do the right thing.” (For example, “adopt, don’t shop” is a popular slogan among animal welfare organizations.) This makes donors feel a responsibility to act in a certain way. Gill calls it “requirement” messaging. She points out that many of us – especially those who give – already feel overwhelmed with responsibility, and this type of messaging could make donors feel shame or judgment for actions they haven’t taken.

And these feelings can cause donors to scroll past your Instagram post. Their time and attention are limited, so only the most relevant messaging will prevail, and they want to feel like they can easily make a difference. So, what resonates best is reasons to do good, instead of requirements to be a “good person.” When developing your messaging strategy, brainstorm what your new donors may be interested to know, or share what your supporters have been curious about.

Takeaway: To engage new donors, your Instagram content must resonate with their interests and emotions. Instead of making people feel obligated to support your cause, give them meaningful reasons to contribute. Share stories that evoke curiosity, reveal shocking facts, or showcase the tangible impact of even small actions.

example instagram post

2. Optimize your Instagram profile 

On Instagram, your bio is prime real estate, so use it wisely. Make sure you clarify that you are a nonprofit organization, include your location or address, explain what you do, and tell them how they can help.

Gill says nonprofit messaging that feels “money-first” isn’t resonating with millennials – a generation whose giving has been steadily increasing. They’re more motivated by the impact created than the money raised. That’s why it’s important to use your Instagram bio to describe your mission in impact-related terms – e.g. “We’ve helped thousands of puppies find a forever home” – and make them feel like they can easily join the movement – “500 puppies and counting.” She also points out that transparency is important to today’s donors – they want to see what has been accomplished with the money you’ve raised before they contribute.

She recommends providing just one link in your Instagram bio to show new supporters where they can volunteer and donate. If you have a volunteer or monthly giving program, encourage them to join it – e.g. “Join our JOY SQUAD!”

Takeaway: Ensure your Instagram profile is set up for success in attracting new donors. Add a relevant keyword to your name, select the “Nonprofit Organization” account type, and include an impact number in your bio for context. Avoid focusing on fundraising amounts; instead, highlight the results of your work. Provide clear calls to action for volunteering and donating.

example instagram profile and bio

3. Create reason-driven content

As mentioned, Gill recommends providing reasons to get involved, rather than requirements or responsibilities. This method will make your Instagram posts more relevant and engaging to new donors. This method also gives your mission a story and a face – otherwise, your content may feel cold and uninspiring.

nonprofit volunteer making a reel about their experience

Takeaway: When crafting Instagram Reels, ask yourself why someone would want to support your cause. Dig deep by exploring the “Five Whys” to uncover the core motivations behind donor actions. Address both emotional and logical reasons, showcasing how your nonprofit creates tangible change and aligns with their values.

The Five Whys is a problem-solving technique that can be used to determine the root cause of your Instagram campaign. All you have to do is successively ask why after each question. Why do people give to your mission? They give because they want to help others, but why? And so on. 

4. Share “revelations” and “redemptions”

In addition to reasons to get involved, Gill advises nonprofits to share “revelations.” In other words, someone’s idea about how to help your cause may inspire others to do so in their own way. Have a quick way for new donors to get involved, like donating something they already own? Share it in a Reel! (For example, did you know donating excess hair from your hairbrush can help clean up oil spills?)

Stories of redemption are a great way to inspire engagement, too. Interview a beneficiary about how your work has changed their situation, or talk to a volunteer about how your program has impacted their philanthropy.

Takeaway: Capture attention by sharing surprising revelations about your cause – simple actions that can make a significant difference. Highlight redemption stories, showcasing how your beneficiaries have overcome challenges with the help of your organization. Create win-win scenarios that demonstrate the impact donors and volunteers can have.

example instagram reels

5. Leverage tools for engagement

Social media is easy to use, but it can be challenging to expand your reach, especially for a small team. Fortunately, there are cost-effective tools to help. Gill recommends a service like ManyChat to streamline communication and make it easy for potential donors to take action. By setting up automated responses to comments or Direct Messages, you can provide instant access to donation links, volunteer opportunities, or additional resources without overwhelming your team.

social media planner ebook

Be sure to watch Jordan Gill’s expert webinar to learn the mechanics of ManyChat, see examples of successful nonprofit Instagram Reels, and more!

We also have two free DonorPerfect resources to assist you with donor acquisition and developing social media content:

  • The Personalized Growth Plan, available here
  • The Social Media Content Planner, available for download below.

By implementing these strategies, your nonprofit can effectively engage new donors on Instagram. Remember, the key is to create content that resonates, educates, and inspires action. Consistently showcasing your impact and providing easy ways to get involved will help you build a dedicated community of supporters.

Download the Social Media Content Planner

Image of DonorPerfect Content Writer, Ally Orlando
Meet the author: Ally Orlando

I’m Ally, a lifelong Pennsylvanian now living south of the Mason-Dixon Line. My main thrills are eating and sleeping, but I also enjoy music, art, film, politics, and animals. I love to learn new skills, and I’m not afraid to be a “master of none.”

As a writer, my ambition has...

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