With more than 10.4 million registered users, Pinterest officially became the fastest growing website ever this month.
Still in beta phase, the site takes a backseat only to Facebook and Tumblr when it comes to how much time people are spending on it. Meanwhile, the social media site has proved valuable for retailers and women’s magazines, and in recent weeks and months, more nonprofits have turned their attention to Pinterest.
That’s because nonprofits go where the donors are, and Pinterest’s core user group—upper-income women from the American Midwest between the ages of 18 and 34—matches the target demographic of a large portion of nonprofits.
In case you’re not already taking advantage of Pinterest, here are five types that should be using the social media site:
1. Thrift stores
This is a no-brainer. Many nonprofits like The Salvation Army, Canadian Diabetes Association and MCC run or partner with social-enterprise thrift stores that provide employment training for people who need it while raising funds for their cause.
These shops are filled with retro-chic, vintage, weird, crazy, funky clothes and furniture—exactly the kind of things fashion-savvy DIY-folks are pinning and re-pinning rampantly. While not a nonprofit, Thrift Town is an excellent example of what thrift shops should be doing on Pinterest.
2. Children’s charities
There’s really nothing quite like the smile of a child—especially when you know your donations are helping improve the life of that child.
Whether you run an after-school lunch program, a daycare or school for disadvantage kids, an orphanage, or summer camps, showing donors how their contribution is actually an investment in the future of somebody less fortunate is a sure way to connect their hearts to the cause.
Word of advice: Focus on the positive outcomes (happy moments, success stories, etc.) instead of bleak images of suffering children.
Offering “visual evidence from 194 worldwide offices in support of children’s rights everywhere,” UNICEF is doing a great job with its Pinterest boards.
3. Animal shelters
Who doesn’t love pictures of cute puppies and furry kittens? Animal shelters have so much potential on Pinterest because their story tells itself through pictures.
Posting pictures of dogs that are looking for a home, the Humane Society of New York is moving beyond storytelling and giving people a concrete way to be part of the story.
With boards like “Creative Pet Spaces” and “Treats From The Heart”, the Heritage Humane Society is tapping into the lifestyle and culture of pet owners.
4. Nature/wildlife conservation
You know that saying about not knowing what you have until it’s gone? The National Wildlife Federation is making sure people know what we have so our children won’t lose it in the future—and it’s taken to Pinterest to show the amazing wildlife.
Boards like “Keeping The Wild Alive” tell a breathtaking and sometimes humorous tale of our animal friends, while the less-obvious “Nature How To” and “Science And Technology” boards give users practical tools to enjoy the great outdoors.
Ever wanted to build a bird feeder out of a milk jug?
5. Fair trade
A lot of pinning happens around arts and crafts related project, chic decorations, or quaint household items—often times they’re exotic and wonderfully weird.
Because every pin links directly to a website, fair trade and artisan nonprofit organizations have massive opportunities on Pinterest because their target demographic is largely Pinterest’s core user group.
Ten Thousand Villages is an ideal organization for Pinterest, considering how many people are pinning its products with a direct link to the purchasing site.
Mike Duerksen is a communicator and copywriter. He also blogs at NonprofitPR, where a version of this story first appeared.