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Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too

By Nell Edgington



I am far from a social media expert, but I have grown to love some social media tools. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have been my favorites, while I still haven’t seen the value of Google+ (although if someone wants to convince me, I’m all ears). But the newest social media darling, Pinterest is fast becoming my favorite. And I think it holds an enormous opportunity for nonprofits.

Pinterest is a social media network based on images. If you find a recipe, a blog post, a pair of pants, a livingroom set, you can “pin” it to a board and share it with your followers. Similarly, if you see something someone else has “pinned” you can “repin” it to your board. Picture an enormous blank wall with individual bulletin boards organized by your interests.

For example, I currently have 12 “boards”. Some are not work-related like “Home” and “Healthy Recipes.” But the rest are directly related to Social Velocity and my passion for social innovation and the nonprofit sector, like “Nonprofit/Social Change Books,” “Nonprofit Campaigns,” “Cool Infographics,” and “Nonprofit Media.” That last board is actually a shared board among 40+ people and organizations where we can all add to and edit the board.

There are several things about Pinterest that I love. For fun last Saturday night I spent a couple of hours there just scanning and pinning (sad, huh?).

There have been many articles about the potential of Pinterest for companies. People can pin images of particular products and encourage their friends and followers to purchase. What a boon to business!

But I think Pinterest is a particularly powerful opportunity for nonprofits for several reasons:

  • Nonprofits are naturally image-based. The every day work that nonprofits are involved in lends itself to compelling images: a child laughing while reading a good book, a hug from a case worker to their client, a new home, a beautiful piece of land conserved, an endangered animal. Include a compelling picture in every story you create about your nonprofit and pin it on Pinterest. You can also pin images from other places that relate to your passion and your mission.

  • Nonprofits easily connect to passion. I don’t care how much you love that new vacuum cleaner, you cannot be as passionate about it as you are about the child you are tutoring. People launch nonprofits or donate to nonprofits because an issue really hits them at the core. They may have had a loved one die of a terrible disease, or they may absolutely love border collies. What the social change sector has in spades is passion. Pinterest is a natural place to share that passion and convince others of its worth.

  • Female donors are a large and growing force. If you want to attract more of this increasingly influential philanthropic force you better find them where they are, and right now that’s Pinterest. 68% of Pinterest users are female. And they spend a lot of time there. You want to be part of that.

  • Nonprofits are all about good story-telling. Pinterest is a natural place for storytelling. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has put together a great gallery of ways nonprofits tell their stories through data visualizations. Although the gallery isn’t on Pinterest, all of these images should be and probably will be soon. Images tell such a better story than words, and nonprofits have so many great stories to tell. Use Pinterest to do it.

If you want a quick guide to getting started on Pinterest, check out this great HubSpot post, although it’s focused on businesses, it definitely applies to nonprofits.

Get out there and give Pinterest a try. I think you’ll like it.

Photo Credit: Mashable

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.


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47 Comments to Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too

Natasha
March 22, 2012

Hi Nell,

I don’t think I understand Pinterest (but I’d like to). What purpose does it serve? What is the goal?

Cormac Lally
March 23, 2012

Very informative and interesting. Also very well explained for those of us who are not experts! thanks

Nell Edgington
March 23, 2012

Thanks Cormac!

Natasha, I think the goal of Pinterest is for people to organize and share their interests. So it’s a social network for what you love. Instead of keeping random lists, binders and dog-eared magazines, you now have one place to put anything and everything that catches your eye. And you can see what catches other people’s eye. I would encourage you to just explore it, and I think you will quickly see it’s value.

MaJenDome
March 23, 2012

Great article. Consider yourself pinned.

Nell Edgington
March 23, 2012

Ha! Thanks!

[...] Picture an enormous blank wall with individual bulletin boards organized by your interests.” As said by Social Velocity  I personally keep “pins” in categories such as: Crafts, DIY, Recipes, Design Ideas, [...]

Debbie
March 25, 2012

Excellent! Thanks for helping me to further understand why Pinterest is going to be so important to our nonprofit.

Tammy Kearney
March 26, 2012

Hi – where is you “Pin It” button?!

Tiffany
March 26, 2012

The case for nonprofits and google+ (and pinterest!) http://tinyurl.com/cfxju6o

Nell Edgington
March 26, 2012

Tammy, I have a “Pin It” button on individual Tools, but I need to add one to my blog posts as well, thanks for the reminder!

Nell Edgington
March 26, 2012

Tiffany, thanks for the great article and videos. You may have convinced me! Ha!

Jerry Dunham
March 26, 2012

I’ve been on LinkedIn for what seems like forever. I like it, but its focus is specific. I’ve been on Facebook for a short time, and I greatly dislike it … the concept is good, but the interface is awful. I’ve heard of Pinterest, but your article is the first detail I’ve seen, and it led me to check out your Pinterest page, as well as the Hubspot article. Now I’m trying to figure out whether I can justify One More Thing to keep track of.

I’m in Austin, TX, and am on the board of several nonprofits. In such a case do I need to have a Pinterest account for each nonprofit to be effective? If not, how would you handle it as one account? The Hubspot article assumes that their audience is only interested in promoting one company, not three nonprofits.

Thanks for any advice.


Jerry Dunham
Tejas Coonhound Rescue
http://www.SunbearSquad.org
http://www.CoonhoundCompanions.com
http://www.texasgreatdane.org

Nell Edgington
March 27, 2012

Jerry,

I think social media is most effective when it comes from the individual, not an organization. Therefore, I would recommend you have just one Pinterest account, but you could have different boards for the different nonprofits you are involved with, along with boards about your other interests. The idea is to get people interested in what you are interested in. Good luck!

[...] Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too [Social Velocity] 0 Comments [...]

Bunmi Tejumola
March 27, 2012

pinterest is actually ideal for nonprofits where daily activities can be placed,people,organisations you interact with on common interest can be placed.

Odette Schuler
March 28, 2012

Thanks for the reminder, Nell!

When I made my personal Pinterest board, I also made one for my nonprofit, but have not pinned to it in a while. My reasons for making the board for CASIE were just as you so eloquently explained them: visual storytelling, passionate users, lots of “drive-by” traffic to potentially find your organization, being able to share and have a voice in what we are experts/passionate about. However, I have not followed up very well with my pins.

Your post is a great reminder to keep it fresh and engaging. Will be checking out your boards as well! I’m intrigued by the inforgraphics one already and I have not even seen it.

Nell Edgington
March 28, 2012

Odette, I’m glad the post was helpful. I look forward to checking out the CASIE boards. Good for you for jumping out there and experimenting!

Sandhya Krishnan
March 28, 2012

Hi! I use Pinterest in my personal life and have considered it for our organization, but I am definitely worried about the copyright concerns that have been in the media recently. Any thoughts on that?

Hailey
March 28, 2012

I haven’t used Pinterest at all. I’ve been warned not to start until I have hours to spend. However, if it’s a tool to be used for business and pleasure I may give it some time. Are there tools available to measure activity?

Nell Edgington
March 28, 2012

Sandhya, as I said in the post, I’m far from a social media expert, and I am also no legal expert, however I have to believe that Pinterest is going to figure out a way around this. If they don’t, the platform is sunk. They already came out this week with an update on their policies, so I think we are just going to have to wait and see how this plays out. For now, I’m not worrying about it.

Nell Edgington
March 28, 2012

Hailey, I’m not familiar with the measurement of Pinterest activity yet, but this post from Beth Kanter (the Queen of social media measurement) might be helpful: http://www.bethkanter.org/pinterest/

Jerry Dunham
March 29, 2012

Thanks, Nell. Might you be willing to send me an invitation to Pinterest? I’d like to give it a try.

Nell Edgington
March 30, 2012

Jerry, I just sent you a Pinterest invite. Have fun!

Joy Clontz
April 1, 2012

Great article. Never thought of advertising my non-profit! Can you pin me?

Ramona
April 2, 2012

Thanks so much for the information. I would love to explore and familiarize myself with the site. Send an invitation my way and I would greatly appreciate it.

Bailey B.
April 2, 2012

I think it’s true that Pinterest is useful for non-profits, which are highly image-based organizations. Pinterest plays on the visual and pulls people in by allowing them to click on pictures that look appealing rather than the words and sales pitches one might find on Facebook or Twitter.

Pinterest is also a great, free social media measurement tool. By seeing how often your work is pinned and repinned and by generating faithful Pinterest fans through your own engaging boards, you can really get a feel for how successful your company’s social media is.

Frank
April 2, 2012

Well done post. I have been posting chamber of commerce items and the repins and follows have been great. Pinterest is truly another place for non-profits to be. And it is fun. I am at http://pinterest.com/frankjkenny/ if anybody is interested in the chamber of commerce board.

Frank

[...] that thinking after reading this very well done posting by Nell Edgington of Social Velocity. Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too goes into the rational behind why people are using Pinterest, and how it can be leveraged by [...]

Jane Boogaard
April 4, 2012

Thanks for reminding me about my boards on Pinterest!

I love the fact that you say its Ok to mix personal and work-related stuff. I joined because of my non-profit and I was confused to what to name it, my name or the non-profit. I came up with Jazi by Jane Boogaard. What would you suggest?

Ella Ran
April 5, 2012

One of the nice things about google+ is that you can cater your messages to your audience. If you want to post something for only your family, or your school alumni you can do so very easily (not so on Facebook, etc).

Also, google hangout is amazing (much better than skype in quality!)

Julie Warburton
April 5, 2012

My business mentor recommended that I take a look at Pinterest and decide whether or not I could make use of it for my life coaching business. I’m now well and truly hooked!! Since life coaching involves NLP and visualisation techniques, what better way to promote ways to inspire and motivate people than by using inspirational quotes and images.
I love it and have acquired followers from Portugal, Canada and Venezuela. I find that developing my pin boards is both exciting and therapeutic.

Naomi
April 5, 2012

I like this article! I have a tricky time explaining what pinterest is. I don’t think every business needs to use it but it can be beneficial if it reaches your target.

[...] Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too [Edgington/Social Velocity] 0 Comments [...]

Amanda Welliver
April 16, 2012

My nonprofit provides homeownership-related services – education, credit and budget counseling, foreclosure prevention, home improvement lending. We’ve been using Pinterest to show remodeling/decorating ideas, DIY projects, and client homes. We tend to get a lot of repins but it’s hard to keep it locally focused.

But I find it’s a great place just to curate/organize. Right now I’m using it as a place to feature all of our silent auction/raffle items for an upcoming fundraiser. That way I have one page where people can view everything, and our board members can see what has been donated (especially if they’re still trying to figure out their own donation.)
http://pinterest.com/communitynhs/silent-auction-and-raffle/

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