October 22, 2019
Why Your Nonprofit Should Take Pinterest Seriously

By Joe Waters

Joe Waters
Pinterest is visual social media and drives traffic to your website better than any other social network, including Facebook, but so far many nonprofits have held off joining Pinterest – to their detriment.

I know firsthand just how powerful Pinterest is for marketing. After my blog and Twitter, Pinterest has been a great place to invest my time. I’ve curated over 3,000 cause-related campaigns across 80 Pinterest boards. I’ve earned over 2,000 followers and Pinterest is a top five traffic driver to my website! I’m sold on Pinterest.

Pinterest expert Jason Miles, a 20-year veteran of the nonprofit world and the author of three books, including Pinterest Power, says that Pinterest is Instagram for grown-ups and gives your nonprofit a visual social network to balance more text-based platforms like blogging and Twitter.

“But the best reason to be on Pinterest is its effectiveness. Pinterest refers more traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter combined," according to Jason.

If the goal of your social media activity is to drive traffic to your website, Pinterest is one of the best sites you can be on. Facebook is the other, but unlike Pinterest you’ll only get referral traffic from Facebook it you pay to promote your posts. For now, Pinterest is your free and best referral engine.

Social media updates usually have a short lifespan. A tweet, for instance, drives clicks and traffic for around twenty minutes. After that, it’s dead to Twitter users. So if you’re tweeting once a day thinking that your 8 a.m. tweet will be seen by your followers at noon, it probably won’t. It will be DOA by 8:20 a.m.

But Pinterest is different. Users aren’t tied to a timeline or newsfeed. A pin can drive traffic to your nonprofit website for months!

An Easy Way to Get Started with Pinterest

“The first thing every nonprofit should do is audit their website," said Jason. “You want to make sure that your website has high-quality images and videos that are ‘pinnable’." Learn more about optimizing your images for Pinterest on Jason’s site.

It’s easy to tell if people have already pinned images from your nonprofit’s website. Go to Pinterest and in the URL bar type: http://pinterest.com/source/YourWebsiteName.com.

Also, including text on your image is a great way to embed your intent, confirm your message or direct viewers to a next step. Check out this example for Jason’s charity, Sew Powerful.

Can Nonprofits Raise Money With Pinterest?

Several enterprising nonprofits have raised money with Pinterest. Pin-to-give fundraisers usually involve a donation for each “repin." For example, beauty brand Elizabeth Arden created a custom pin to support a cancer charity. For every repin Arden made a product donation to the charity.

Another example is an Easter promotion from Chocolatier Lindt USA to support Autism Speaks. A Pin 2 Win Gold Bunny Challenge Pinterest effort asked users to create boards focused on Easter traditions, featuring at least one pin with Lindt Gold Bunny. Once 1,000 or more Pinterest users participated in the challenge Lindt made an additional $10,000 donation.

You can see the pins for Elizabeth Arden, Lindt and two dozen other examples of Pinterest fundraisers here.

As with any social media fundraiser (e.g., Facebook contests, hashtag fundraisers, etc.), the key to Pinterest fundraising success is a large and engaged following for either the brand, the nonprofit, or, ideally, both. If your nonprofit has 50 Pinterest followers and your corporate partner has 75, you should pick another fundraiser.

A pin-to-give fundraiser also makes a great secondary fundraiser. With the Lindt fundraiser, the chocolatier donated 10 cents of every purchase of its gold chocolate bunny through Easter up to $100,000. The bulk of the donation to Autism Speaks came from this percentage-of-sales fundraiser. Anything the pin-to-give fundraiser raised was gravy - or chocolate!

You could do something similar. A retailer is ideal for a pinup fundraiser, but if the business also has a large Pinterest following you could add a pin-to-give fundraiser. More and more, businesses prefer integrated fundraisers that touch customers in several ways.

Pinterest not only has the right audience of users and drives traffic to your website, it’s also fun and interesting. You should really give it a try.

Joe Waters shows do-gooders, nonprofits, and businesses how to create win-win fundraising partnerships. He blogs at Selfishgiving.com. Email to him at joe@selfishgiving.com.

January 2015

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