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Six charities getting Instagram right

18 March 2016

Instagram’s rise seems unstoppable. Last year, the social network picked up 100 million new users. 

The community now consists of more than 400 million users with 75% living outside of the US. Research from 2015 shows that 28% of online adults use Instagram, compared to 23% of online adults using Twitter

More and more charities are now taking advantage of the platform. Here are six charities smashing Instagram, with ideas to try based on their success. 

1. Innovation from National Trust 

National Trust’s weekly photo challenge #NTchallenge taps into how Instagram users already use the platform; sharing beautiful images. By adding an element of gamification, the trust has been able to encourage Instagram users to share and generate content that’s engaging and authentic.  

Think: what are people already sharing on Instagram that could benefit your organisation?

2. Connecting audiences with Doctors Without Borders / MSF


MSF Alert! Five epidemics to watch in 2016: 3. Meningitis Meningococcal meningitis is a highly contagious bacterial form of meningitis – a serious inflammation of the meninges; the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is a contagious and potentially fatal infection of the brain membrane In the last 20 years, close to one million suspected cases of meningitis have been reported Meningitis cases and deaths occur in the African ‘meningitis belt’ People often carry the disease without showing symptoms Mass vaccinations are the most effective way of limiting epidemics In 2014, MSF vaccinated 75,100 people against meningitis in response to outbreaks. In this photo, a patient affected by meningitis is cared by MSF doctor Clement Van Galen in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Image © Sylvain Cherkaoui #MSF #DoctorsWithoutBorders #Epidemic #meningitis #Niamey #Niger

A photo posted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (@doctorswithoutborders) on

MSF works in some of the world’s most challenging environments and its staff see things most of us can’t imagine. They use Instagram to share arresting images of captivating situations, helping to bring MSF’s online audience closer to the action. 

Think: does your charity have compelling and distinctive stories to share about the work you do? 

3. Using humour with Dogs Trust

Everyone knows the web is mainly made up of animal pictures. So if you want to be noticed, you’d better do something different. Dogs Trust uses meme style posts coupled with popular Instagram hashtags to stand out and entertain.

Think: could you incorporate humour into your content marketing?

4. Inspiring posts from MS Society 


Who inspires you to participate in Walk MS? #walkms #multiplesclerosis

A photo posted by National MS Society (@mssociety) on

MS Society focuses on content that’s popular on Instagram – inspiring posts about beating the odds. There’s also a strong emphasis on overcoming MS through fundraising that helps to reinforce the positive messages. 

Think: do you have stories from beneficiaries with the power to inspire others you can share? 

5. Focus on topical issues from Human Rights Watch 

Human Rights Watch doesn’t shy away from talking about injustices around the world and doesn’t hold back on Instagram either. The human rights organisation focuses on topical issues and capitalising on news stories in real-time. In fact, it doesn’t always share original content (often crediting images to news agencies). 

Think: does your organisation regularly respond to breaking news stories?

6. Celebrity power from Malala Fund


Malala's mom, inspired by her daughter, is happy to finally get an education.

A photo posted by Malala Fund (@malalafund) on

Malala Fund doesn’t underestimate one of its most valuable assets – the inspirational story of Malala Yousafzai, who rose to fame after being shot for her commitment to education. Malala isn’t your average celebrity and is arguably one of a kind. It’s her personal connection to the fund that makes sharing images of her so powerful. 

Think: do you have ambassadors who could help you further your reach? 

Measuring success on Instagram

It’s useful to be able to show the impact of your work on social channels, in order to make the case for investment or innovation. Here are three tools that help you measure and plan Instagram activity.

Iconosquare allows you to manage and measure your Instagram account on your desktop. Analytics are currently a paid-for feature. 

Sprout Social has incorporated management and analytics tools into its dashboard. 

Hootsuite allows you to schedule and monitor Instagram activity, as well as manage multiple accounts.    

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Susheila Juggapah

senior digital supporter retention officer, Scope

Sushi joined Scope in October 2018 to support retention of Scope's monthly subscription product, Mindful Monsters, an exciting way for families to explore mindfulness. She previously worked at CharityComms and continues to host the CharityComms podcast with Robyn. Sushi has worked with various charities and non-profits for the past eight years, specialising in digital communications and supporter journeys.