Posted by Pamela Kilzer


If your nonprofit organization tells its story through pictures, then Instagram is the social networking site for you. The app uses visual storytelling and marketing to increase cause awareness and attract donors. The first step in utilizing Instagram is to create an account. If you’re not sure if Instagram is right for your nonprofit, read our article on “6 Ways You Can Use Instagram to Further Your Mission.”  If you’re already interested in Instagram and want to get started, read on to find 10 easy steps towards creating your account.

1. Download the Instagram app for your nonprofit.

Since Instagram is based predominantly on a mobile app, it’s important for your nonprofit organization (NPO) to have the site in app form in order to see how followers view your posts. If possible, download the Instagram app onto an organizational tablet or smartphone. If this doesn’t apply, you could also use a team member’s smartphone, provided their personal Instagram account is separate from the organization’s. Finally, if an app download is not possible for your nonprofit, Instagram can also be accessed and utilized online. 

Check out Instagram online by clicking here, or download the app for Apple or Android. For the purposes of this article, all example images will be from an Apple iPhone 5c. However, the setup process online and on an Android device will be virtually the same.

2. Sign up to create an Instagram account.

Once you’ve downloaded the Instagram app for your organization, you can begin creating an account. Instagram offers 3 options: Login, Log In With Facebook or Sign Up. While it may be tempting to login with Facebook, choose the Sign Up option to avoid confusion between your NPO and any personal accounts. If you’re on a smartphone app, Instagram will ask if you want to Log In With Facebook once more or Sign Up With Phone or Email. Select the latter and then choose Sign up with your email instead. This allows you to sync your nonprofit organization’s company email with your Instagram account, making it accessible to a variety of staff members.

3. Create a nonprofit username for Instagram.

On the final page of setup, Instagram will ask for your full name, username and password. Choose a username that applies to your organization, for example FindingACure or HelpingTheHomeless. Be sure to choose a password that other team members can access (make sure to use a tool like LastPass to securely share account logins with your team). On Instagram, your username will appear in all lowercase letters, so be aware of how your username can affect followers’ ability to find you.

Create a nonprofit username for Instagram


4. Select a profile picture for your nonprofit's Instagram.

This is a major part of setting up your Instagram account. You can choose to upload a picture at the same time you create a username for your account, or you can wait until after your account has been created to upload a photo. Either way, it’s important to add a profile picture as soon as possible so followers can find you and are more likely to trust your page.

Pick a photo that represents your nonprofit's cause or mission. Most often, this is a logo or brand name; however, it can also be a picture of volunteers, donors or team members. Remember that your picture will appear as a small thumbnail icon for the majority of Instagram users, so choose something that fills the circle completely and is easy to see.

Select a profile picture for your nonprofit's Instagram


5. Sync contacts on your Instagram account.

Instagram will then ask if you would like to sync any Facebook contacts or personal contacts from a smart device. For now, skip these steps until your Instagram account has had some time to develop. You also want to avoid accidentally syncing any team member’s personal contacts with your organization’s contacts, and skipping this step will help you to be more careful in the process.

6. Choose a public or private Instagram.

You will be asked whether you want your Instagram account to be set to Public or Private. When an Instagram account is private, only approved individuals can see photos and videos posted. We recommend making your nonprofit’s account public so users can search, find and follow you more easily, as well as see posts in order to know more about your cause before following.

7. Learn about your nonprofit’s Instagram account.

Congratulations; you have now created an Instagram for your NPO! The next step is learning about the app and the best way to run it. You will first be directed to Instagram’s homepage. Once you’ve begun following other accounts, their posts will appear here. You can also click the Discover tab, which allows you to discover new #hashtags that are trending on Instagram, popular posts and any profiles that you may be interested in following. The camera icon in the middle is used for posting photos and videos to your account profile and newsfeed, which we’ll learn more about later. Next, the heart icon indicates any notifications you may receive (e.g., followers liking your posts) or follower activity (e.g., Person A commented on Person B’s photo). Finally, with the profile tab, you can manage all of your Instagram account’s personal material.

Find people on Instagram


8. Edit Your Instagram Profile.

Now is your chance to edit your nonprofit organization’s Instagram profile to represent your mission and cause. First, click on the profile tab located at the bottom of your device’s screen, then click Edit Profile. This will take you to a screen where you can edit any information you want to be presented on your account’s profile page. If you haven’t uploaded a profile picture, you can choose to do so here. You can edit your organization’s full name and username through this portal, as well as include a link to your NPO’s website (recommended) and biography information (encouraged).


9. Configure your Instagram account settings.

Once your Instagram profile has been updated and edited, you can configure any account settings you prefer. These can be found by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the profile tab. If your organization chooses, you can sync Facebook or personal contacts through this portal, as well as link your nonprofit organization’s various other accounts to Instagram, such as Facebook or Twitter.


10. Start posting to your Instagram!

Now that you have officially created and configured your Instagram account, you can start posting material! For your first photo or video, choose an image that represents your NPO's mission and cause. One example is a photo of a constituent, team member or donor with the caption “We're excited to be a part of Instagram! Our supporters seem pretty happy too. #Nonprofit.” Be sure to utilize hashtags, calls to action and encourage followers to connect back to the website link in your profile bio. For other post ideas and examples, check out 6 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use Instagram to Further Your Mission.

When it comes to social media, Instagram is an awesome resource to tell your nonprofit organization’s story and secure potential donors. By following these 10 easy steps and setting up a substantial Instagram account, your nonprofit can further its mission to gain followers, raise awareness and better the community.

Interested in more ways to take your social media presence to the next level? Firespring is here to help. We provide hands-on support in creating, maintaining and promoting your social networking. Learn more by calling 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.org.


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