How to Get Your Nonprofit Started on Snapchat Facebook PinkLaunched in 2011, Snapchat is an image and video messaging app that is very popular with tweens and teens and increasingly Millennials and Gen Xers. Similar to the early days of Myspace and its users mastering HTML hacks and widgets, Snapchat has an equally dedicated user base of young people that pride themselves on becoming skilled at Lenses, Filters, Stickers, and other Snapchat tips, tricks, and hacks. In fact, Snapchat is giving rise to anew type of artist – the Snapchat artist.

That doesn’t mean your nonprofit needs to become regularly active on Snapchat, but you should be aware of its increasing popularity and lay a foundation in case your nonprofit does decide to prioritize Snapchat in the future. Snapchat is making a concerted effort to increase its viability as a marketing and digital payment processing tool for brands and for those nonprofits that have the time and resources, early adoption would be a good bet. As we have learned in the past with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the early adoption phase is when new communities grow the fastest.

1. Do not make snap judgments about Snapchat.

Odds are, if you are a nonprofit professional over the age 29, your first impression of Snapchat will be bewilderment. The app and its interface is confusing to most people who came of age accessing the Internet primarily through a keyboard. Snapchat’s navigation and design is tailored for Gen Z – the mobile-first and mobile-only generation, but Millennials and Gen Xers are also becoming more active on Snapchat.

Snapchat may also seems silly at first, stupid and pointless even, but once you get past your first impressions you’ll start to realize that Snapchat is a very unique mobile app-based community that shuns traditional marketing and comes with a complex set of communication tools (and possibilities).

Snapchat demographics 2016

In 2015, Snapchat grew its 18-24 base by 56%, while its 25-34 year old users increased 103% and, most notably, its over-35 user base grew 84% according to comScore.

2. Do not be lame on Snapchat.

We have entered a new era of social media marketing. While posting boring content on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram may have been forgiven by your supporters in the early days, Snapchatters will have little patience with lame attempts to market your nonprofit on Snapchat. By sharing Snaps to your Story, you are asking your Snapchat Friends to take time out of their day to view your Snaps and you want to avoid your new Friends thinking to themselves Lame Snapchatter ?‘ after viewing your Snaps. The Snapchat Generation is the most marketed to generation ever and Snapchat users have high expectations from brands that decide to get active on Snapchat. You’re nonprofit will need to be creative and embrace Snapchat style and aesthetics.

lame snaps on snapchat nonprofit best practices

3. Download Snapchat and claim your username.

Even if you have no immediate plans of using Snapchat, you’d be wise to download the app and sign up to claim your username ( Your nonprofit must always be proactive and reserve your username on social networks. The same can be said of the new legally verified .NGO domains. Reserve your first choice of the new domain now or regret it later.


4. Enable Filters and turn on Location Services to allow Geofilters.

Filters enable you to add colored filters, the current time, local weather, and speed overlays to Snaps and must be manually enabled under Snapchat Settings > Additional Services > Manage > Filters. Geofilters are location-based Filters that require you to turn on Location Services for Snapchat in your smartphone. Once you enable Filters and turn on Location Services, you will then be able to access Snapchat Filters and Geofilters by swiping left or right while creating a Snap.

nonprofit geofilters

5. Sign up for Snapcash.

Empowered by Square Cash, you can easily send digital payments to Snapchat Friends provided both of you have entered your debit card information in Shapchat Settings. Snapcash was released in 2014 and while there little data on how much has been processed in the two years since, but it’s just a matter of time until Snapchat fundraising becomes plausible for nonprofits. Get ready!


6. Create a custom Snapcode.

To grow your Snapchat following, your first step is to create a custom Snapcode. Your supporters can easily add your nonprofit as a Friend by taking a screenshot of your Snapcode and then tapping Add Friends > Add by Snapcode.


7. Promote your Snapcode and share your Snapchat Username on multiple communication channels.

To gain new Snapchat Friends, you can use your new Snapcode as an avatar on social networks (rotate one week and one week off). Your nonprofit should also write a blog post announcing your new presence on Snapchat and then promote the blog post on multiple communication channels. Be sure to name the image file “your_nonprofit_name_snapcode” so your Snapcode shows up high in Google Image Search. Finally, you should also add a Snapchat icon to your website next to your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram icons and have it link to your username. When a supporter clicks on your Snapchat username link, they will be sent to an in-app page where they can easily add your nonprofit as a Friend with one tap.

nonprofitorgs on Snapchat Nonprofit Tech for Good

8. Add Friends and learn Friend Emojis.

As your supporters begin to add your nonprofit as a Friend, add some back and see what kind of interaction you get. It’s too early to know whether it is a best practice to add back all your Friends, so to begin add Friends at a ratio of 1:10. Your nonprofit will be primarily sharing Snaps to your Story and mutual friendship is not required for your Friends to view your Story. You should also learn Friend Emjois which are only visible to you and are automatically generated based on your Snapchat activity. The key is below and it’s worth noting that Friend Emojis can be customized under Snapchat Settings > Additional Services > Manage > Friend Emojis.

Friend Emojis what they mean for nonprofits

9. Share your first Snap to “My Story.”

Snaps are picture or video messages that can be sent directly to Friends or shared to your nonprofit’s Story. Snaps can be viewed for an unlimited number of times for 24 hours and then they disappear. You can add Filters, Geofilters, text, Stickers, and drawings to Snaps to make them uniquely Snapchatish.

To begin, share your first Snap to your Story. An easy first Snap would be a picture of your nonprofit’s location with a Geofilter, then add text to declare that this is your first Snap and add some Stickers for fun and then share. On Snapchat you don’t get likes or resnaps, but Friends can leave Story Replies and your nonprofit can gauge your Friend’s interest in your Snaps by monitoring Who Has Viewed Your Story.

white house on snapchat

10. Learn the basics through Snapchat Support.

There are many, many website articles and blog posts dedicated to advanced Snapchat hacks, tips, and tricks, but before you branch out into advanced Snapchat it’s crucial that you understand the basics and Snapchat Support ( has written the best online guide to Snapchat.


Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

mobile for good look insideBased on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.