March 2, 2016

One industry that can do really well on Instagram, but that often struggles with Instagram, is the non-profit sector. These organizations are typically ripe with content to share but either don’t know how to go about sharing it or worry about how much to share.

I completely understand these concerns. Which is why I wrote a blog post a while ago all about how non-profits can use Instagram. One of the accounts I featured in that article is the Beatson Cancer Charity from Glasgow, Scotland. I love how they use Instagram to further their mission and so I want to profile them in this case study too.

But first, time for the disclaimer… I am in no way affiliated with Beatson Cancer Charity. I haven’t discussed with them how they use their Instagram account or what results they get from Instagram – this post is based entirely on my interpretations of what I see on the current profile. I am not being rewarded, compensated, or paid in any way to write this post. This post is based entirely upon my opinions of their Instagram content from what I’ve seen shared publicly.

They Have Fun

So, here’s the thing with most charities – they’re looking for your money to deal with (or fix) a less-than-pleasant issue. Cancer, abuse, neglect, illness, and other “causes”. They are typically something with a negative connotation. And most charities and organizations choose the demonstrate the realities of their cause through photos and videos that depict this negativity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand the plight. You need to bring awareness to the realities of the cause. But who really wants to see sick, maimed, or depressing content in their feeds? It’s often so disturbing that we scroll past it much faster because we don’t want to see it – having the adverse affect the organization is trying to achieve.

But, what I love about the Beatson Charity account is that they focus on the positive side of their organization. They share real stories, real issues, real results, real people – but they do it in a way that is motivating, inspiring, uplifting, and visually appealing so that their audience actually benefits from their content.

Quite simply, they have fun! They have fun on Instagram. And, if you look at their photos, it looks like they have fun as an organization. That says a lot about a charity devoted to curing cancer – not exactly a fun topic or life experience.

What’s your business mission? No matter what your industry, your mission is “good”, right? So focus on the good. Focus on the positive. Focus on the fun. Give people something enjoyable in their Instagram feeds.

Branded Content

It’s not hard to notice that their branded color is yellow. It’s in their logo. It’s on their website. But it’s also all over their Instagram content.

They have taken this dominant color and found ways to incorporate it into much of their Instagram posts – keeping the branded aspect visually dominant and emotionally related to their organization.

When their audience sees their content, it’s obviously from Beatson. It makes you want to stop and read the caption to find out more.

This is something I can’t stress enough. The more you can create a branded style on Instagram, the more your audience will engage with your content. Find ways to make your content stand out. It can be through color, a photography style, a logo or design element, or another feature. But focus on that branding consistency.

Promote Events

If you run a non-profit, you have to find ways to get people to donate, right? So you hold events, right? Fundraisers run the gamut of options but you know what works for you.

The Beatson Charity does a good job of highlighting their events – both upcoming and those they’ve participated in.

So, when you have your next event, share it on Instagram! If people don’t know how you raise money, how can they give it to you?

Just make sure that if you’re asking them to visit your website to register, donate, or otherwise contribute, you need to put the link to that page in your Instagram bio to make it easy to access.

Behind the Scenes

How many times do we hear about a fake charity or a scam taking people’s well-intended money? All too often, right?

You know what helps people feel comfortable shelling out their hard earned cash? Trust.

You know what builds trust? Transparency. And transparency can easily be conveyed via Instagram (and social media) by providing behind-the-scenes posts.

The more you can show off what goes on in your organization, and how the donations are used, how the recipients benefit, how you build your awareness, etc., the more your audience will trust you and be willing to donate.

This applies to all businesses too – not just non-profits. The more you can build trust in your audience, the more likely they are to buy from you. So whether you’re a non-profit, a product-based business, or a service-based business, start incorporating more behind-the-scenes content into your Instagram strategy.


You know I love me the ability to build a business on Instagram  But the reality is that you have an audience elsewhere too. Non-profits do a lot with Facebook and generally have a solid audience there too. Use this to your advantage by cross-promoting between the two platforms.

Tell your Facebook fans you’re on Instagram (and give them a reason to follow you on Instagram). Tell your Instagram fans you’re on Facebook (and give them a reason to follow you there too).

The more you can use the audiences you already have to further your message, the more reaction and engagement you can create.

They’re Grateful

Charities rely on their supporters. They should be grateful when their supporters come through for them. And they should show the world how grateful they are.

This is another reason I like the Beatson Charity account – they show so much gratitude for their supporters. From donations small to large, this account shares the love!

Not only is this a great way to thank your supporters, but it also serves as social proof to your audience. It helps validate what you do and what others are doing to help you.

No matter what your business is, you should always be sharing the love and showcasing those who support you. Find ways to give them the gratitude they deserve.

Posting Regularly

You know how much I preach consistency! It’s so important that you are posting regularly in order to stay on your audience’s mind. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to post all the time. Beatson posts about 3-5 times a week. Not a lot. But enough. And consistently. And that’s what’s important.

You always want to post regularly and consistently. Post as often as you can consistently. This will mean different things for different businesses. You need to find out what your best posting schedule is.


Overall, I really like what the Beatson Cancer Charity is doing on their Instagram account. In general, they are doing well on Instagram, but especially from the aspect of a non-profit, they are doing very well.

However, I do think they could make better use of their hashtags. Yes, they use hashtags. Yes, they have their own branded hashtags. But I think they could use more (up to 15 per post). Those additional hashtags could be related to either their local area or cancer topics in general in order to help them reach more audiences.

So, whether you’re a non-profit, or any other type of business, I hope you can use this account for inspiration on how to run your Instagram account more effectively.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Excellent blog! Loved reading about use of IG in service sector. Can you give some more examples of how one can use IG more effectively in other service sectors?

  2. Great points about keeping branding consistent and reliable. You want your business to be memorable. It seems like most companies, non-profit or not, would struggle with trust.

    No one wants to feel like they’re just seeing more advertisements in their feed, so building trust is important.

    Also, 15 hashtags seems like a lot- I would think that five to ten should suffice.

    1. Hi Matthew! Yes, building trust is very important for any business. And this is something that many struggle with.
      As for hashtags, when it comes to Instagram, the magic number is 11. Numerous studies have shown that engagement significantly increases when you use 11 or more hashtags which is why I recommend 10-15 per post. Of course, different accounts and businesses may find more or less works for them individually, but this is my general recommendation.

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