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12 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Instagram and Vine Video

Drive More Engagement With Short, Social Video



Unicef shows off the backstory of Trick-or-Treat boxes with its Instagram Video.


Diabetes UK uses Vine to say thank you to donors.

Diabetes UK

When someone says “video marketing” to you, what comes to mind?

  • An expensive, lavish 20 minute epic mini-movie that crams in every single historical fact and statistics about your nonprofit?
  • A large, unwieldy budget and a big-time production studio?
  • Do you simply throw up your hands and declare: “My nonprofit is too small – we can’t use video in our marketing strategy”?

Don’t get discouraged! With the surging popularity of Instagram and Vine, making compelling, interesting and thought-provoking videos is a tool available to all nonprofits, and one that cannot be ignored.

Creative videos drive website traffic as well as increase engagement on social media sites. Well thought out videos raise awareness for your cause and can even result in increased donations.

With Instagram Video and Vine, all your nonprofit needs is a smartphone, some creativity and a few minutes.  

What are Instagram Video and Vine?

Instagram and Vine are mobile apps used for shooting short videos (15 seconds and 6 seconds respectively). Instagram is also used for photos.

You can only upload videos to the apps from mobile devices – namely smartphones and tablets. 

Why use them?

Check out these statistics, compiled by Digiday:

  • Vine links on Twitter are plentiful, where five tweets per second contain one.
  • A branded Vine video is seen four times more often than a regular branded video.
  • Instagram is the more popular app, with 130 million users, compared to Vine’s 13 million.
  • Instagram videos create twice as much engagement as Instagram photos.
  • Sixty-two percent of the brands on Instagram have shared at least one Instagram video.

Instagram and Vine are rarely used by themselves – meaning, they are connected to Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

Your nonprofit can use these mobile video sharing tools to push out the message to other social media channels, which increases engagement and recruits new supporters to your cause.

Not sure where to start? Here are 12 ways nonprofits can use Instagram video and Vine to connect with supporters and raise awareness. (Note: If any of the following links go to a blank page, click on "turn off this top frame")

1) Show people who you are.

Showcase your organization’s personality by posting a brief video.  People love to see behind-the-scenes glimpses into organizations.

Check out this Instagram Video from UNICEF where staff is assembling the Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes.

This video has the added bonus of asking us to “stay tuned” to find out who their celebrity ambassador will be.

2) Show people what you do.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) wanted to make a big impression when he voted against a controversial bill to make it more difficult for women to have abortions – so he recorded his vote and posted it on Vine.

This video raises awareness about the cause, the Congressman and the issue at hand:

Nonprofits can post videos of the small things they do every day – answering the phone, planting a tree, giving away toys, helping with homework.

Human Rights Campaign used Vine to highlight an anti-LGBT protest going on in front of their building:

National Geographic created a neat Instagram Video about the many items that go into one of their photographer’s camera bags.

3) Show people why you do it.

Your videos don’t need words or any narration at all. This video from Heal the Bay in California lets the beautiful ocean and surf at the Venice Beach Pier do the talking.

Showcasing impact in your video is sure to get people excited. Charity Water regularly posts great videos featuring people whose lives have been changed by clean water, and they put the detail in the caption.

4) Showcase products or services.

Instagram Video and Vine are perfect tools for nonprofits focusing on the adoption of animals, as can be seen in this video of Parker the Cat from the Humane Society of New York.

Do you run a thrift store? Do you have silent auction items for sale? Showcase these items through a short video.

5) Build suspense leading up to an event or news release.   

Are you building a new website? Creating a new program? Offering a new service?

Think about what you can tease and give a sneak peek to your supporters through a short video.

For instance, SFMOMA shared a small preview of their new installation.

6) Share statistics and facts.

Statistics and facts that make people pause and think are perfect to share through video, such as this wow-ing statistic from Greenpeace USA.

Feature a staff member or volunteer reading an inspirational quote that applies to your mission or create a cute hand-drawn cartoon of powerful statistics and make a still video.

7) Acknowledge your donors.

Look at what Diabetes UK did to thank an individual donor using Vine.

8) Tell a multi-part story.

How can your nonprofit tell a multi-part or serial story through video that people will look forward to and anticipate?

Each week share a new video that moves the story along – think of a client whose life has been changed by your work or a part of the environment that has been saved.  

TWLOHA (ToWriteLoveOnHerArms) uses Instagram Video in fantastic ways – they always leave you wanting more. For example, their campaign “The Storytellers” invites high school students to apply to work with TWLOHA so they can start a conversation about their school and mental health.

9) Get celebrity endorsements.

While you may not have access to celebrity David Guetta like Mashable and (RED) did for their international campaign, your organization can get an endorsement from a local celebrity or community member like the mayor or a high profile philanthropist.

10) Encourage participation.

After the landmark Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, Slate magazine encouraged readers to post their reactions on social media:

Nonprofits could use the same strategy on their website and blog, by encouraging users to post Instagram and Vine videos that the organization could then share. Creating a specific hashtag for this type of campaign works best so that you can track all the videos and the following social media exposure.

11) Old-fashioned promotion and fundraising.

Use Instagram Video and Vine to bring people into the fold and encourage them to check out your new blog post, your silent auction items, your Most Wanted items list and your annual fundraising appeal.

 This promotional method should be used sparingly – your video strategy should focus heavily on showcasing impact and highlighting success stories.

12) Have fun and make people smile.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, startling statistics and seriousness.

In fact, studies show that the more off the wall and fun you are in your videos, the more comments and shares they receive.

For inspiration (and a laugh), check out BatDad on Vine and Lululemon on Instagram Video.


You don’t need a big budget or a huge staff to make a big splash in the mobile video sharing marketplace. All you need are some great ideas and a smartphone.

You are only limited by your creativity. What kinds of videos will you create?

Julia Campbell is a diva of social media, consulting with nonprofits, large and small.



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