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Everything You Need To Know About Collaborating With Nonprofit Influencers


Some organizations may tend to overlook influencers when developing their nonprofit social media policies and overall strategy. However, there are numerous influencers out there whose impact can be a powerful addition to an organization’s nonprofit social media policy. 

The words "nonprofit" and "influencer" have rarely been spoken in the same sentence, and yet there is a lot of good to come out of these two groups working together. Let’s dig in to see the value that influencers can bring to your organization and how best to reach out to them. 


What Is A Nonprofit Influencer And Why Are They Important?

Influencer is actually an incredibly broad term. Anyone who holds sway over public opinion can be considered an influencer; from an Instagram travel personality to Barack Obama. They can be people who run popular podcasts that educate, political pundits, actors, experts in their field, or philanthropists. 

Nonprofit influencers offer their endorsement and image to an organization that resonates with them and aligns with their values. These people are often traditional "celebrities" but do not need to be. They could be high-profile business executives or everyday people who have made a name for themselves by becoming experts in a niche and finding ways to successfully navigate the technological landscape. 

Influencers can bring visibility to your organization, should you secure one. Influencer marketing with a large platform name can help you achieve goals like increasing donations, volunteerism, or general brand awareness. 


The Different Types Of Influencers

Influencers come in a variety of niche industries, platforms, and levels. When deciding who to approach to "sell" your brand to other like-minded individuals, it is important to sift through where this influencer fits into the picture. First and foremost, they need to align with your brand. 

how-to-grow-your-organization-by-collaborating-with-nonprofit-influencers-typesAnthony never knew how many types of influencers there are!

For example, a popular inspirational animal lover would be an excellent match for an animal rescue. Influencers in the nonprofit world MUST have good values. There is nothing worse than a scandal attached to your hired influencer, that has nothing to do with your nonprofit, that negatively impacts your mission.

When choosing your influencer, be sure to look at their audience to see how it aligns with yours. What does your member and donor base look like? Do they tend to be more Boomer and Gen X? Then you may want to find someone who is popular on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is a good all-around, skewed a bit more toward Millennials. If you want to reach young Millennials or Gen Z, a prominent TikTok influencer is probably more appropriate. 

Pro Tip: Once you find the perfect influencer, you can always negotiate the platform in which you would like them to post on. Outline these specifics in the contract.

If you are not sure what platforms your base is using, send out a survey to your stakeholders to find out. It would be a waste of time to push a social media marketing campaign with a prominent YouTuber if most of your audience does not actually interact with YouTube. 

Finally, let’s take a look at the different types of influencers by reach. There are a variety of tiers based on followers, subscribers, or unique visitors. 

Nano Influencers

This level refers to influencers who have from 1,000 to 10,000 followers. While this may not seem like this could offer you a lot of reach with your campaign, nano influencers have a far higher engagement rate than the bigger names. They frequently interact with their base and are far more likely to be trusted for advice than some bigger (non-celebrity) accounts. 

These influencers are also very likely to have niche followings that can be targeted to your audience (cooking, construction, or nostalgic literature for example). With a little research, you can find someone who will really hit the mark for your audience. Not to mention that hiring at this level is extremely cost-effective. Some may even work in exchange for gifts or services. 


This group of influencers falls within a following of 10,000 to 50,000. These individuals also typically fill niche markets and enjoy higher engagement rates. They also generally have more polished content (as they have been in the business longer) and more experience working with brands.

You will likely have to pay for micro-influencers, but be sure to negotiate, especially if they are sympathetic to your mission (which they should be if you have chosen the right person!) 

Mid-Tier Influencers

In the mid-tier, you will find influencers with 50,000 to 500,000 followers. Benefits of working with the mid-tier include reaching a larger audience but with a person who is still typically in touch with their audience. They are still engaged and produce very polished content, but have a good deal more experience (and typically better pictures and content) than a micro-influencer and are generally considered less of a financial risk for a nonprofit. 

Macro Influencers

These influencers have between 500,000 and 1 million followers. You will find this group contains high-level influencers who built their brand online from scratch. These people are full-time influencers who are experts in content creation, which is what they live and breathe. They do not often have the same kind of high engagement rates of the lower-level tiers but make up for that in reach. 

Also, their professionalism and reach lend a kind of dependability or trustworthiness when they work with your nonprofit. They will come with a higher price tag, and are a better fit for large, established nonprofits. 

Mega Influencers

This group is the cream of the crop. They are also known as celebrity influencers and include highly-recognizable names like Elton John or Serena Williams. They have enormous followings and would offer immediate cache to your organization. They have immense reach, and can offer invaluable boost even with one campaign. 

However, the price tag that these top influencers command is not attainable for most nonprofits and companies alike. While they can create a dramatic rise in donations and awareness, they are notoriously difficult to engage with. They do not work with many companies and typically only work with well-established nonprofits. 


How to Find Nonprofit Influencers

Let’s take a look at some social media nonprofits' best practices when dealing with influencer marketing. There are a few tips you can use to find a nonprofit influencer that is suited to your organization. 

Step One: Create a Persona

Work with your marketing team, person, or equivalent staff to brainstorm the type of person that will be your best donor bet. This is your customer "persona." Think about your audience, and get very specific. Reach out to current donors to find out their social media habits. 

how-to-grow-your-organization-by-collaborating-with-nonprofit-influencers-how-to-findMary is ready to put her influencer search into place!

For example, let’s say that you run a small ranch that offers equine therapy to children with special needs. Your audience may include: parents, horse-lovers, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists who mainly use Instagram. Therefore, you may want to look for a nano or micro Instagram influencer that is known for equine content, or special needs content. 

Step Two: Search Social Media

Once you have determined what platform you are focusing on, start perusing. Judicious use of hashtags can help you find good candidates. Utilize Twitter’s keyword search, visit the profile pages of potential options, and reach out to them to start a dialogue. LinkedIn Groups offers another excellent place to begin your search. Find the groups relevant to your cause and see who is interacting in a thoughtful, meaningful way that aligns with your organization. If you would rather utilize a service to help you find an influencer, try Social Blade, #paid, Tagger, or another influencer match tool.

Once you find a potential influencer, really study their content to be sure that they reflect your values and are not controversial in any negative way that could be problematic for your organization. Just as with any partner, doing your due diligence is a key step in the process that should not be overlooked. 

Step Three: Make A List 

Do not just settle on one influencer. Make a list of possibilities that meet all of your criteria. That way if you are not able to get one, you can try another. Include one or two "big" influencers that you think are out of your league but align strongly with your organization’s values. 

While mega influencers may seem like pie in the sky, if they feel strongly about your mission there is a chance that they may decide to work with you at a discount because what you do is close to their heart. 

Another way you can keep things organized is to use a nonprofit social media strategy template to put down all of your goals and outline your game plan. 


Reaching Out to Influencers

Now that you have your list, it is time to reach out to your possibilities. Remember, you do not have to settle on just one. Some podcasters or videographers may be willing to mention you in their content once or twice, others may be willing to set up some sort of long-term relationship with your organization. Here are the steps to follow when reaching out to social media ambassadors for nonprofits. 

Step One

Follow them on social media before reaching out. If you ask for their help, the first thing they are likely to do is see if you engage with any of their content. 

Step Two 

Engage with their content by leaving positive comments and liking and sharing a video or one of their posts. You want to build an online relationship (at least to some degree) before approaching them for their help. 

Step Three

Begin to notice the hashtags that your influencers use. Following some of the heavily-used tags is a great way to find more potential influencers to reach out to and network with.

Step Four

Now it is time to reach out personally. The best method to do so will likely align with the influencer’s "Tier." For example, a micro-influencer may have their contact details in their profile. If so, send them a private message. Larger influencers likely have management that deal with partnership requests. The manager’s information will likely be included in the influencer’s profile as well.

how-to-grow-your-organization-by-collaborating-with-nonprofit-influencers-reaching-outTrish found the perfect influencer for her campaign!

If you reach out to a smaller influencer directly, begin by sharing that you follow them on social media and let them know about a piece of their content that really spoke to you. Ask if they have ever worked with a nonprofit organization before and offer them more information on your mission. Once you have established this connection you can ask if they would be willing to either join your campaign, share a specific message, or whatever action you think would make the most sense for this particular influencer. 

The management team of larger influencers will likely send you a pricing plan with proposed engagement packages. For smaller influencers, you may not want to discuss compensation immediately. Instead, lead with the idea that you need their help. This will not only appeal to their sense of good but establish your organization as a charity in their mind rather than a paid advertisement for a product. Afterward, remember to thank them for everything they have done to help. True gratitude and recognition goes a long way. By maintaining the relationship, you always keep the door open for further help down the road. 

Once you have gotten your influencer or influencers on board, you can create a schedule using a nonprofit social media calendar template. That way you can spread out your campaigns in a way that will make the most impact. 

Pro Tip: Follow the influencers who made it to your content shortlist a few solid weeks before contacting them. This will give you the opportunity to reference recent posts when you do reach out, as well as build a clearer idea of their profile in your head. 

In a world that is dominated by social media, getting the right influencers on your team can do a huge amount of good for your organization. Ensuring the proper due diligence efforts are completed upfront and then ultimately bringing the right person on board can really round out your budding social media strategy. 


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