UPDATED July 19 :: With more than 19 million monthly unique visitors, Pinterest is now the fourth most trafficked social networking site in the United States – behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Even if your nonprofit is not quite ready to take the leap into pinning, at the very least you should sign up to reserve your first choice of usernames, such as pinterest.com/nonprofitorgs. To get started, here’s a step-by-step tutorial for nonprofits and a list of nonprofits already using Pinterest effectively, and below you’ll find ten Pinterest Best Practices for Nonprofits. That said, using Pinterest has transformed my understanding of social networking and digital imagery. If you aren’t yet using Pinterest, then likely you have not yet come to the realization that the online masses are increasing having a hard time processing text online. If your nonprofit is still posting text-heavy messages to your social networks, then your engagement is likely a fraction of what it could be. If for no other reason, you get on Pinterest to understand how to use better use images to communicate messages online, then it’d be a wise investment of your time. Finally, if you would like to be informed of when new best practices are added, please subscribe to the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 e-Newsletter.

1. Pin your own website and blog content, but only if it pulls up a good photo!

As mentioned above, Pinterest is quickly becoming a boon for referral traffic. Tap into that power by pinning your own website and blog content, but only if it pulls up a good, visually appealing photo. Powerful visuals are what is driving the Pinterest community and referral traffic. So, for example, I am going to pin a blog post from the Nature Conservancy Blog:

Step One :: Use Good Photos on Your Website and Blog

Step Two :: Pin It!

Step Three :: Review Pin and Test Link

Note that there is a link to the blog post in the pin and that clicking the photo
also links back to original blog post:

2. Add quality descriptions to your Pins.

Many nonprofits are rushing through the process of adding descriptions to their pins and it shows. Your descriptions should reflect how your pins relate to your mission or be used to call the Pinterest community to action. They shouldn’t be more than a sentence, but 2-3 words is usually not enough. That said, please also use proper punctuation and grammar in your descriptions! Most descriptions are a complete mess and as seen below descriptions get prominent placement, so make sure your descriptions give a good first impression:

3. Add website links to your Pin’s descriptions.

You can add a website link while pinning or you can “Edit” your description after pinning to add a link. It’s worth noting that you do not need to put “http://” in front of the website URL. Keep the URL simple and short, but don’t miss an extra opportunity to increase your referral traffic from Pinterest.

4. Add #hashtags to your Pin’s descriptions.

Similar to adding hashtags to tweets, you can also add hashtags to descriptions to increase the likelihood of your nonprofit’s pins showing up in Pinterest searches. Be sure to use common search terms or hashtags and avoid being a hashtag spammer. One hashtag per pin is enough!

5. Add your logo or avatar to your images.

In terms of branding, it’d be wise to add your logo or avatar to some of your photos. You’ll need a photo editing tool to drag and drop your logo or avatar onto your images, but the extra step is worth your time. Here’s an example from Amnesty International:

6. Embed inspirational quotes onto your images.

Pinners love inspirational quotes! Tap into that phenomenon by embedding inspirational and quirky quotes onto your images, such as:


7. Add a price banner to your pins that are goods being sold or fundraising campaigns.

Many nonprofits offer donation gift programs or sell goods. Be sure to add a price to your pin description so that a price banner appears on your pin:


8. Space your Pinning throughout the day.

Similar to a tweet, a pin seems to have a peak lifespan of about 90 minutes, so space your pins accordingly. Logging in first thing in the morning to post ten Pins in a row isn’t a good use of Pinterest. Most people won’t ever see those pins and those that do may be annoyed that the volume of your pins have taken over their “Home” view  – especially if the pins are boring. Instead, post one or two pins every few hours and build your boards slowly. Remember… you are what you pin.

9. Monitor your Pinterest referral traffic.

You can easily track pins that are driving traffic to your website – both those pinned by you and others – by simply replacing your website URL in the URL below:


For example, you can see the pins driving traffic to Nonprofit Tech 2.0 by visiting:


10. Make your Board Descriptions SEO-friendly.

The words used in Board Descriptions are heavily favored by search engines, but unfortunately most nonprofits leave their board descriptions blank. Be sure every board has a keyword-rich selection of words. For example, a board simply described as “A collection of endangered species” will not do as good as “Endangered species are animals and plants that are on the verge of vanishing from the earth. One in four of the world’s mammals are now threatened with extinction in the near future. So are one in eight birds, one in five sharks, one in four coniferous trees, and one in three amphibians. By and large, the cause of this decline is human activities.” It’s worth noting that the maximum number of characters that can be used in a Board Description is 500.

Related Links:
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Use Pinterest and Utilize Digital Photography for Nonprofit Storytelling
11 Types of Photos Nonprofits Should Post on Social Media