By Julia Campbell, a social media and storytelling consultant for nonprofits and author of Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits. She regularly provides useful tips and resources to the nonprofit sector through her blog, #501SocialBlog. Also, on October 8 in partnership with Nonprofit Tech for Good, Julia will be presenting a free webinar about how nonprofits can use social media to raise money online.


While Facebook and Twitter may be waning a bit in popularity and usage, visual storytelling platform Instagram keeps growing in engagement and daily time spent on the site. 

The site shows no sign of slowing down, with 1 billion people using Instagram every month, 71% of them under the age of 35. If you are not tapping this Instagram market, you may be leaving a lot of potential on the table.

So what keeps 35% of online adults engaged with and actively using Instagram? For most of these users, it’s Instagram Stories.   

In just one year, the daily user count for Instagram Stories jumped from 400 million (June 2018) to 500 million. That means that more than half of Instagram’s 1 billion users look at and consume Instagram Stories – EVERY DAY! 

Marketers are doubling down on Instagram Stories popularity with ad spend as well. A reported 2 million advertisers are purchasing ads to insert into Stories in 2019. 

Not only are Instagram Stories the must-use feature for individuals, brands, and organizations going into 2020, Facebook (Instagram’s owner) recently added the ability for 501c3 nonprofits to capture donations directly inside Stories! 

The Instagram Donation Sticker is different from the Facebook Donate button because it is only available inside the Stories feature. It allows eligible nonprofit and individual accounts to raise money without leaving Instagram! 

In order to get set up and start using the Donation Sticker, your nonprofit must do two main things:

  1. Sign up for charitable giving tools on Facebook (if you haven’t already – if you are registered with Facebook payments, you do not need to complete this step again), and
  2. Sign up for an Instagram Business Account, or change your existing account over to a Business Account. 

So how can nonprofits use this unique and fun Instagram feature to raise money and attract new donors?  Here are 6 ways. 

1) Post Stories regularly to ramp up your following. 

In order to build up a following for your Instagram Stories, you need to create and post regularly. Instagram, like the other social media platforms, rewards a consistent posting schedule. If you post a few times per month and then let the account go quiet for weeks, you will have a very hard time ramping up engagement and views again. 

Like everything in social media, Instagram Stories are subject to an algorithm that determines what you are most likely to watch and engage with and shows you those Stories first. While the photos and videos within each Story are never out of order, the accounts that get the most interaction and views on their Stories rise to the top of the pile. 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) shares attention-grabbing staff stories from the front lines, to raise awareness of international crises such as the violent campaign against the Rohingya people in Myanmar:

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In terms of posting cadence – how much should you post? Well, it depends! A good cadence is one that you can keep up with. If you show up on a regular basis in your followers’ feeds and Stories, they are much more likely to trust you, to build up an affinity for your organization, and eventually to click on the Donation Sticker and make a gift. 

If you can only post a handful of times per week, make sure that you stick to that schedule. If you are able to post once per day or more on Stories, that’s great! Think of it like exercise – using social media with intention and purpose daily will get you better results than haphazardly throwing up some content once per week.

2) Go live on Instagram.

Instagram Live is a perfect way to lift the veil on your work and bring people deeper into the fold. People love live video as a way to interact in real-time with the nonprofits they care about, ask questions, and get a fuller picture of the humans behind the brand. 

Amirah, Inc. goes live frequently to answer questions from supporters and to make announcements about new projects and initiatives:

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You can add a Donate button to your Facebook Live video to generate donations as you live broadcast, and the same goes for Instagram! Add the Donation Sticker when you go live so that people can give when they feel most inspired. 

Save your Instagram Live video to your Instagram Story Highlights so others can watch after the live stream broadcast ends and still contribute.

3) Run Instagram Stories Ads. 

Setting aside even a tiny budget to put into Instagram Stories Ads will help build your audience and get more views on your Stories. 

Here’s how to create a Stories ad using Facebook Ads Manager

  1. Go to Ads Manager and select + Create.
  2. Choose an objective that aligns with your marketing goal.
  3. Fill in the details for your campaign. 
  4. At the Placements level, choose Edit Placements.
  5. Under Instagram, check the box for Stories.
  6. Set your ad’s budget and schedule. Instagram Stories Ads will run as long as you like and reach as many people as your budget allows. 
  7. Design your ad.  
  8. Complete your ad by selecting Confirm.

You can use the preview your ad before submitting it for review. Use the drop-down and select Instagram Stories to view how your ad will look in that placement. You can also create mock-ups for your ads in the Creative Hub.

The British Heart Foundation wanted to attract younger female runners to fundraise for its MyMarathon campaign. Since the Foundation’s desired demographic was really into using Instagram, they focused their advertising message there and received almost 13 percent of total sign-ups from the platform:

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4) Get individuals to use the sticker on their Instagram Stories. 

Mobilizing your individual supporters to leverage their Instagram networks to raise money is a great way to reach new donors. But don’t assume that your supporters know how to use the Instagram Donation Sticker!

Once you are set up and ready to get started with the Instagram Donation Sticker, let people know that it’s an option! Post about it on your main Instagram News Feed, use Stories, send an email, post on other social media sites, announce it at events! 

Miley Cyrus let all of her fans know that they could easily help her raise money for the Happy Hippie Foundation using the Instagram Donation Sticker:

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5) Save fundraising Stories to your Instagram Highlights.  

When interested visitors come to your nonprofit’s Instagram account, make sure you have several Instagram Story Highlights set up. 

Instagram Story Highlights enable you to categorize, file, and save your best Instagram Stories and feature them prominently on your Instagram account for first-time or return visitors. 

The Malala Fund features several different Highlights on their account, from individual stories of Afghan girls going to school to a short instructional Highlight explaining how to use the fundraising feature on Instagram. 

When a potential donor clicks on the Fundraising Highlight (see below), they are directed to an Instagram Story showing them how to use the Instagram Donation Sticker to give money right then and there.

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6) Don’t use it on every post. 

There are other ways to use Instagram Stories to build up your community and your engagement before asking for money. Look at cause and awareness days that you can leverage to get more exposure and drive more donations. If an issue that you are addressing is in the news and part of national conversations, talk about it in your Stories and explain why people need to follow you for up-to-date information. 

Polar Bear International posted poems about polar bears on their Stories during #NationalPoetryMonth:

USA for UNCHR shares educational info in their Stories to build community and raise awareness:The American Heart Association uses Stories to share helpful, practical information with its followers:

Best Practices for Nonprofits Using Instagram Stories:

  • Grab attention with colorful, eye-catching visuals.
  • Use data and statistics to shed light on the problem.
  • Share helpful, valuable information on the issue.
  • Describe where the money raised is going to go.
  • Share compelling stories of the people that are going to be impacted by the funds

For more information on how to reach donors using Instagram Stories, visit Facebook’s Social Good website, full of case studies, tips, and guided lessons.


Guest Blogger Bio: Julia Campbell has run her digital marketing consulting business for almost a decade, focused exclusively on mission-driven organizations. A mom of 2 and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, she is the author of Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, a call-to-action for nonprofits to use stories to accomplish their missions. Her passion is to get nonprofits of all sizes to stop spinning their wheels on social media and to start getting real results using digital tools. You can check out her website at: jcsocialmarketing.com/blog.