How 3 nonprofits successfully use Pinterest

Operation Smile, the National Wildlife Federation, and Heifer International are changing the world—one pin at a time.

I’m not going to give you tips to improve engagement, ideas for images, or examples of brands that do great and interesting things on Pinterest. That’s been done already.

What I am going to give you is three examples of small nonprofits that use Pinterest to drive social change. You know, stuff that makes us feel better about humanity.

Take a look at what these three nonprofit organizations are doing:

1. Operation Smile

Operation Smile only has 614 followers, but I really like how it uses imagery to drive awareness and support for its great organization. Look what it’s doing with the “Before and After” board. What better way to show potential donors how their money makes a marked difference in people’s lives?

Or, what about the “Creative Fundraising” board? Operation Smile posts photos of the surgeries its patients need, then adds a price tag for the gifts right on the photos. Brilliant! Operation Smile does the same thing with other missions.

The “Our Smile Ambassadors” board highlights celebrities who support the cause. What a great way to showcase the efforts of folks like Matthew Fox and Bill Rancic.

2. National Wildlife Federation

With 22 boards and 746 pins, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is really making a commitment to Pinterest as a marketing tool.

You could say NWF’s mission syncs well with the image-based nature of a platform like Pinterest, but NWF executes wonderfully.

For example, check out the “#Squirrels4Good” board. It has 1,681 followers. Who says nonprofits can’t have fun? (And who doesn’t like a squirrel?) Nice work by NWF with the hashtag, which I’m guessing it uses on Twitter and Instagram, too.

I love what NWF is doing with its “Shop NWF” board. Give folks access to the products you’re selling online, and drive them to your site through those pins. It’s not sexy, but it’s probably effective, given Pinterest’s ability to drive Web traffic.

NWF even has a “Wild Crafts & Recipes” board. This isn’t exactly a key focus for the organization, but recipes and food play well on Pinterest, and this is an opportunity for NWF to play in that area.

3. Heifer International

Heifer International helps people get out of poverty through gifts of livestock, seeds and more. When you look at its boards, you instantly get a feel for what Heifer is all about: alternative giving, Earth Day, and caring for the Earth.

But if you take a closer look, you get the feeling there’s more here than on your standard pinboard.

The “Inspiring Stories” board puts faces on Heifer’s core mission. You can see the kind of people who benefit from donations. This is pretty powerful stuff for a nonprofit that depends on donations the way Heifer does.

Or what about Heifer’s “Infographics” board? It’s a nice way for supporters to grab quick and simple facts about Heifer International’s goals and mission to include in blog posts or share on Facebook. And, it’s a nice way to build awareness for the organization.

The “Heifer 12X12 Blog” board is where it gets really cool. This board is devoted to photos from Betty Londergarten’s quest to visit 12 Heifer projects in 12 countries in 12 months. This is pretty impressive, and a great way for Heifer to drive traffic to the blog.

But here’s the thing: It’s not a Heifer blog, it’s Londergarten’s. Heifer selected her after it noticed some other great philanthropic blogging/writing she did to represent Heifer in this journey. This is a great example of community building, and a great marketing move by Heifer. And, it’s a great use of Pinterest.

What about you? Have you noticed any nonprofits using Pinterest in interesting ways?

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Communications Conversations. (Image via)

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