Five Nonprofits Maximizing Instagram

Aug. 21, 2018 | Sarah Haertl, VP of Marketing and Communications

More than 1 billion people can’t be wrong

It’s a staggering number: one billion people. That’s how many monthly users Instagram has. Up 200 million users since September 2017, Instagram is far out-pacing other social giants Facebook and Snapchat (Tech Crunch). If you haven’t dipped your nonprofit toe into the Instagram pond yet, below are five Instagram accounts to give you inspiration and ideas on how to maximize your social media manager’s efforts.

  • National Geographic (@natgeo): Few images in 2017 garnered more emotional response than photographer Paul Nicklen’s picture of the starving polar bear in the Canadian artic. The image was shown on local and national media outlets around the country as a reminder of the impact of client change on nature. With more than 90 million Instagram followers, National Geographic uses compelling photography to both educate and shock its audience in support of its mission to save wildlife, protect ocean habitats and preserve our ancient heritage for future generations.

Photo by @CristinaMittermeier // This is what a starving polar bear looks like. Weak muscles, atrophied by extended starvation could barely hold him up. Our @Sea_Legacy team watched as he painfully staggered towards the abandoned fishing camp from which we were observing and found some trash to eat—a piece of foam from the seat of a snowmobile, as we later found out. People have asked why we couldn’t help it, why we didn’t feed it. In addition to being illegal to feed wildlife, polar bears like this one need several hundred pounds of meat to survive. They primarily eat seals and they struggle when they are stranded for long periods of time on land, without a sea ice platform from which to hunt. We didn’t have a weapon and we didn’t have any food. There literally was nothing we could do for him as we were hundreds of miles from the nearest Inuit community. What could we have done? What we did do was push through our tears knowing that this footage was going to help connect a global audience to the biggest issue facing us as a species today. It is true that we don’t know what caused this animal to starve but we are certain that unless we curb carbon emissions, sea ice will continue to disappear and many more bears will starve. With these images, we want to wake the world up to the imminence of climate change and to how it will affect wildlife and people for decades to come. For solutions on how each and everyone can make a positive impact on this planet #follow me at @CristinaMittermeier or go to @Sea_Legacy. #nature #naturelovers #bethechange #FaceofClimateChange #StopFossilFuels #NoArcticDrilling #TurningtheTide with @SeaLegacy. With @PaulNicklen and our entire team. Thank you @natgeo for helping us try and reach the world.
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  • Unicef (@unicef): The power of social media to put an actual face with a statistic in is one of the reasons Instagram is an excellent platform for nonprofits. No matter how many reports Unicef puts out with the staggering number of children who die around the world due to a lack of vaccines, few things are more powerful than seeing the face a child who will be helped by the dollars donated to Unicef. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, Unicef speaks volumes through its Instagram account.

  • Smithsonian (@smithsonian): Can’t visit one of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums? Then just visit the Smithsonian’s Instagram account and let their social media team bring the museum to you. Established in 1846 by the United States Government “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” the Smithsonian uses Instagram to make learning fun and accessible to us all.

  • Habitat for Humanity (@habitatforhumanity): Let’s face it, building a home could be intimidating even for those of us who think we are handy. Habitat for Humanity uses it’s its Instagram account to not only diminish the intimidation factor but to show the bonding experience people enjoy while helping build a house. This account makes everyone want to grab a hardhat and get to work.

  • Make-A-Wish America (@makeawishamerica): Have you ever seen a wish-granting from Make-A-Wish and wanted more, wanted to see the follow-up of the child enjoying their life-changing experience? Make-A-Wish America’s Instagram account shows many of their wish recipients on location of their wish destination. The nonprofit also does an excellent job recognizing their corporate sponsors/partners on their posts.

Sarah Haertl is Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the three Aegis companies: Aegis Premier Solutions, Aegis Processing Solutions and Aegis Premier Technologies. She has a proven track record of success in marketing, communications and public relations and has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits. To contact Sarah, email her at

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