How to Use Influencer Marketing for Non-Profit Organization

Heidi Yu
Heidi Yu
May 5 · 8 min read
Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash
Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash
Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash

Marketing can be more challenging for non-profits. Unlike fashion or technology brands that emphasize the exclusivity of their products, your approach can be nothing like that. Does that mean that non-profit organizations should market themselves? Of course not. All you need is to find the right way to present your organization in its true colors. One of the methods to do that is to use influencer marketing.

Yes, you’ve heard right. Influencer marketing can be used for non-profits promotions. While you may associate influencer marketing with the Kardashians and enormous brand budgets, this marketing method is a much wider notion. Influencer marketing can help you explain the importance of your organization through other people’s perspectives. Relevant target people will help you connect with your target audience and achieve your goals much faster.

How Can Influencer Marketing Help Non-profit Organization?

There multiple ways in which this marketing method can help your organization grow. Here are a few main advantages.

Volunteering or donating to non-profit organizations demands trust. Hearing about your organization from a beloved influencer will make their followers trust you. Influencer marketing is one of the best tools for boosting your credibility.

Testimonials and volunteers’ stories work well as credibility proof but that information is usually placed on the organization’s website. So, it’s practically you building your own credibility.

The importance of your action will seem much stronger if someone else talks about it. Remember that many followers look at influencers as their friends or acquaintances. They respect them and therefore, respect their statements and recommendations.

It is much easier to get the help you need when you people know about your organization. Maybe you want to spread your efforts beyond your local areas and that is when influencers can step in.

Collaborating with one or better yet few influencers will ensure that people remember your organization’s name. Once they know who you are, when the time for donation comes, you’ll have a better chance of collecting more donations.

Nowadays, people google everything before they make a final decision. Your association with influencers will come up in the search results in the future searches and ensure you some needed recognition.

Trying to attract new people at all the same places won’t be effective. You need to spread your reach and influencer marketing will help you with that. If you’ve stuck in the search for donors, influencers will bring you the solution.

Influencers have lots of followers who take their recommendations seriously. Recommending your organization as the best place to donate their funds and make a difference will make an impact.

Think about this — less than 40 percent of people trust ads, but over 90 percent do trust their friends and acquaintance’s recommendations. Social media facilitates recommendations. Organizations should take that to heart,” said Gage Sullivan, a Canadian marketing consultant. He explained how non-profits can use social media to reach a different audience.

Are you working on an important campaign? Do you need as much attention as you can get? Influencers can make that happen.

There are many influencers who are popular for their work with non-profits. Amy Neumann, for example, is an author of “Simple Acts to Change the World: 500 Ways to Make a Difference,” and consistent advocate for non-profits. She has collaborated with thousands of organizations to help them spread the word about their work.

One post from an individual like Amy will get you more attention than tens of your promotional messages across multiple channels. Consider that people who follow active participants in non-profit activities are interested in such events.

Influencer Marketing Strategies for Non-profit Organizations

Every promotional outreach needs to be planned out and carried out strategically to be successful. Whether you are new to influencer marketing or you already have some experience, these tips will help you manage the whole process with ease. Each step is crucial for establishing a good partnership and creating an amazing campaign, so let’s start.

Your collaboration with an influencer can have different goals. Stating those goals before you venture into this partnership will lead to thoughtful and strategic campaign decisions.

The following examples of content strategies might give you the idea of what type of campaign you want to run:

  • Building awareness about what you do — Team up with influencers and share inspirational stories that testify your programs and missions. This campaign needs to explain to the audience why your organization can be important to them. For example, an influencer can share content that shows how you help girls in poorer countries to get a proper education.
  • Educational campaign — Influencers can be your channel of sharing educational content. They can introduce to the audience how to use your program or how to build their skills through your program while helping others.
  • Encouraging action — This campaign can share promotional content that lets the audience know where they can donate the funds or apply for volunteering. The information will be shared by influencers so their followers will be more confident in taking action. An example of this campaign is Halima Aden’s post which invites people to buy a pop grip from whose sale half goes to Unicef.
Halima Aden’s post which invites people to buy a pop grip from whose sale half goes to Unicef
Halima Aden’s post which invites people to buy a pop grip from whose sale half goes to Unicef

Their values should align with your mission as well as your values. The opinion and experiences they share about your organization need to be honest and true. The influencer needs to genuinely support your cause. That is the only way to make the campaign truly effective.

Remember that followers know the influencer very well. As they keep up with their lifestyle, they’ll recognize if your organization doesn’t align with influencer’s believes.

For example, if you are an organization that fights for animal rights, collaborating with an influencer who used to wear fur coats isn’t the best idea. Such a partnership can hurt your reputation.

Take your time and look into different influencers until you find a few that seem to have potential. Reach out to them and

To find the influencer who is perfect for your organization you need to know where to look. Looking for the right person in the wrong places is in vain. Check out the following sources in the search for the right influencer:

  • Your email contacts — Maybe you are already in contact with an influencer and you don’t even know it. Do a background check on your email list contacts to see if any of them is an influencer. Pay attention to the type of content they publish and the number of followers they have.
  • Social media hashtags — Hashtags are an incredible search tool. Type in #nonprofit and/or whatever characterizes your organization (#animalrights for example). The results will show you individuals who are active in those fields.
#nonprofit hashtagged Instagram posts
#nonprofit hashtagged Instagram posts
#nonprofit hashtagged Instagram posts
  • Groups and forums — People who believe in the same causes gather in specific social media groups and forums. Facebook has groups dedicated to practically anything. You must find a group or forum where your target audience shares their thoughts.
  • Influencer search software — This is a more advanced option in the search process and fastest one if you have limited time for the search party. Social media software such as SocialBook can help you find influencers based on criteria you enter.

Be careful not to fall in the trap of influencers with fake followers. You can spot the “fake influencers” by their followers’ engagement. For more information about identifying fake followers read Entrepreneur’s post.

Being open and direct about your intentions will help you establish a relationship with an influencer. A respectful relationship is important for successful collaboration so you need to make a good impression.

Talking about how you love their content and trying to get on their good side through praise isn’t the best approach. They will see right through it.

The first message you send them should be short, concise, and specific. Let them know what your organization is all about and make sure that you mention why you reached out to them. It is important that you explain why your choice of influencer fell on them. This will help them understand the values you both share.

To create content that will have an effect you first need to determine what that effect should be. The content will be created based on the goals and the influencer needs to know what those goals are.

In addition, you need to have an idea of how much creative control you plan to give to the influencer. The campaign will be more effective if you let the influencer be a part of the creation process. They will add their touch and make the campaign authentic in that way.

Feel free to let the influencer create the content on its own if you wish. What’s recommendable is that you give final approval before the post is published. In that way, you’ll ensure that nothing inappropriate or ambiguous is published about your organization.

The fact that influencers get paid to publish a post on social media can seem silly. However, that is their job and you need to understand that. Meaning, that you couldn’t expect that influencers will do the campaign for free.

The important strategic move is that you don’t lead with the talk about money. Introduce your organization, pitch them your idea, and see where the conversation goes from there. They might agree to promote your organization for free because you are a non-profit but that needs to be their choice.

In case they do ask for compensation, you should have a set budget in advance. There are lots of influencers and you don’t need to spend over your set limit to collaborate with someone.

Better opt for nurturing one fruitful relationship that spreading yourself too thin. Collaborating with multiple influencers at the same time can be overwhelming. With time, your content will lose in quality.

If you don’t have enough time to be completely dedicated to influencer marketing, don’t try to start a massive campaign. Be realistic about your possibilities, both time-wise and money-wise.

What’s even more important, partnering with many random influencers just to get the attention of a wide audience can backfire very quickly. You need to make sure that influencer truly believes and support your organization. Maybe you’ll be working with just one influencer, but one passionate person will have a stronger impact than ten indifferent people.

Final Thoughts

As you can notice, an influencer marketing campaign for non-profit organizations isn’t a strange idea. Actually, it is a great strategy for building awareness of your organization and attracting more people. With the help of influencers, you’ll be able to explain your purpose to a wide audience.

There are many influencers whose followers take part in fundraising, donating to different organizations, and volunteering. They might be eager to join an organization such as yours but they simply don’t know about it. Influencer marketing is your chance to change that. Let the name and purpose of your organization be heard and known.

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