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Pinterest for Non Profits

Written by Sterling Raphael on . Posted in Social Media


Is Pinterest just another new social media craze?  I don’t think so. Right now it’s about the hottest social network around. Believe it or not there are already Pinterest addicts out there, and not just in the association world. For a minute I thought had just come across another social networking site for nonprofits to pin their hopes on. (Pun intended)  I was wrong. Seems like some users prefer Pinning to Facebook!   Hanging around since 2010, in August of last year, Time Magazine named it in its “50 Best Websites of 2011“  Pinterest caught fire in November 2011, and then grew to 5 million from just 418,000 in May, according to metrics firm Comscore. 

Simply put, Pinterest is a by ‘invitation only’ online pin board (often referred to as a ‘virtual Pinboard’) A socially engaging bookmarking site, the premise behind Pinterest is for users to gather, organize, and share things they find on the Web.  Pinterest’s “goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. …..a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”  Oh, let me clarify… a ‘pin’ is an image that has been added to Pinterest.  You can upload images from your computer or pull it up from browsing the web.  You can also ‘share’ your ‘Pin’ on Facebook and direct traffic to your web site where you can communicate your dream for your cause. 
Pinterest for Non Profits
Yes, I quickly noticed Pinterest offers high visibility for non-profits.  I kind of like hanging around the leading edge of non-profit technology, and in doing so, I checked out Joe Water’s piece in Huffington Post, Why and How Causes Should Use Pinterest.  In his blog he asks the question, “Is your nonprofit right for Pinterest? You may want to pull up the article and see if you have all the right answers.

’s Avi Kaplan challenges you to Steal 42 Creative Pinterest Ideas for Non Profits. For example, if you’re an animal shelter or animal rights organization: Pin pictures of animals who need homes. Share the story of each animal in the Pin Description. Where was Scruffiefound? Did she need medical care? Were you able to find a home for her?

Wolfor Pin pictures of families who adopt animals from your shelter. Many animal adoption services send representatives out to do a home visit before the family can be approved to adopt their new pet, or even to drop the pet off once an adoption is finalized. Use that opportunity to get a picture with the family.

Wolf Photo: Credit to Flickr user: Dennis from Atlanta

Or, if you’re a church, synagogue, or other religious organization: Scour the web for yummy recipes your congregants can prepare for the holidays, then pin images of all the yummy dishes that link through to  the full recipes. Bonus if you convince members to pin their own recipes posted on their own blogs. Food can offer great visuals and this can be a great community building exercise.

See and enjoy the rest of the Pinterest creative ideas for nonprofits right here.

KiKi L'italian Also, let’s revisit this post by Kiki L’Italien offering great advice for Association Executives interested in Pinterest:

  • You don’t need to jump on Pinterest right away, but you should make it easier for others to promote your content on Pinterest.
  • SEO works well with Pinterest already (its domain authority is rising fast) and can definitely work for you.
  • You know all those sharing options you hopefully already have for your content? You should look for the “Pin It” button to add to those.
  • If you sell books, merchandise, anything…make it Pinterest friendly.
  • Start thinking of images and videos a lot more seriously for their Pinterest use (you should already be doing this for future mobile use anyway)…arm your conference speakers, attendees, members, content providers, authors with Pinterest enabled promotional materials. Ways to spread the word on Pinterest from their websites and newsletters.
  • Start thinking of if you have “How To” videos, articles, or tutorials that might be of interest to a large group of people. These types of things are extremely popular on Pinterest.
  • If you want an example of an association using Pinterest, check out The American_Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Pinterest page. They discovered a large amount of traffic coming from Pinterest in their website analytics. When they explored it, it turned out many of their members were using Pinterest for sharing ideas and news. ASHA’s social media queen Maggie McGary helped other ASHA members figure out how to use Pinterest by writing about it on their blog (bonus points for educating all members on the hip new way to share!). This may be something your organization could do, too.

Pinterested yet? Here are a few other resources you may want to review before you start ‘Pinning”:

For more on Pinterest, check out this infographic that shows the site is driving more traffic to retailers’ Web sites than Google+. 

Is Pinterest fundraising technoloyg? Will Pinterest be part of your Social CRM or Fundraising CRM strategy? Can it be used as online giving software to drive more traffic to non profit fundraising efforts? The case studies are still be formed, and it’s exciting to watch them unfold!


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Sterling Raphael

Sterling is president of Avectra Labs, the innovation think-tank of Avectra, a web-based Social CRM provider for associations and not-for-profits. In this role, Sterling is responsible for driving product strategy and international expansion. Sterling is a staunch advocate of Social CRM, educating associations and not-for-profits on the value of moving away from transactional relationships that define many memberships toward more social human relationships.

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