My Return on Investment (ROI) from using Pinterest to promote Nonprofit Organizations is somewhere between minimal and better-than-expected, but using the site on a regular basis has fundamentally changed how I think about social media and the people who use it. In the same way that Twitter forced me to rethink online messaging in 2008 and onward, Pinterest has made it abundantly clear that expecting our online supporters and donors to read even only 140-characters can sometimes be too much to ask. The barrage of messages we all experience on a hourly basis now is without a doubt changing how the online commons processes online messaging – and that means if your nonprofit wants to stand out and get your messages through all the clutter,  nonprofit communications and fundraising staff are going to have to evolve quickly in their skill sets and become more adept at visual storytelling.

To get started, nonprofit social media managers need to learn and feel comfortable with taking a lot of photos at events, on the street, in the office, and on site visits. You are going to need to know where to find photos online and how to source them. You’ll need to invest in a photo-editing software or app that will allow you to edit, crop and insert text or your nonprofit’s logo or avatar into your photos. And finally, a good social media manager will be empowered with a smartphone or  tablet to take, edit and post photos in real time – and at the expense of the nonprofit! Nonprofits communications and fundraising staff should not be expected to use their personal smartphone and tablet for work purposes unless compensated. The deeper you get into mobile, the more you realize you do not want your personal and professional lives entangled on the Mobile Web. Over the last six months I have been pondering heavily this popular concept that “Social media is free!” and how destructive it is. Like any other communications and fundraising tool, social media requires staff time, training, experience, hardware and software.

All that said, the good – no great – news is that that the photos that work well on Pinterest also work incredibly well on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc. Pintersest has made me a much better social media manager and it will do the same for you. It’s a real eye-opener. If you are accustomed to only getting a trickle of Retweets, Likes, Comments, or +1’s, then start working with the eleven types of images below and the engagement you seek on social media will no longer be so elusive:

1. Photos with Inspirational Quotes:

Pinned on Pinterest by Trees, Water & People

2. Photos with Powerful Statistics:

Posted on Facebook by the One Campaign

3. Inspirational Quotes and Powerful Stats as Images:

Posted on Facebook by Rio+Social

Posted on Facebook by the National Committee to Protect
Social Security & Medicare 

4. Photos with Your Nonprofit’s Logo or Avatar

Pinned on Pinterest by the World Wildlife Fund – Germany

5.”Oh, Wow” Photos

Pinned on Pinterest by WildAid

6. “Ah, Pretty” Photos

Pinned on Pinterest by the Peaks Foundation

7. “Aw, Cute” Photos

Shared on Google+ by Big Cat Rescue

8.  Thought-Provoking Photos

Pinned on Pinterst by Greenpeace East Asia

9. Infographics

Posted on Facebook by Save the Rhino International

10. Quirky and Humorous Photos

Tweeted on Twitter by Rock the Vote

11. Call to Action Photos

Pinned on Pinterst by Project 7

Related Links:
Webinar: YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest for Nonprofits
[INFOGRAPHIC] How to Get More Likes, Shares on Facebook