How to Engage Instagram Influencers and Reach Millennial Donors | npENGAGE

How to Engage Everyday Instagram Influencers and Reach Millennial Donors

By on Jul 19, 2017


Examples of instagram influencers holding iPhone and about to go live to their audience

Instagram is here to stay. All organizations should definitely get on board with as strong an Instagram game as they have on Facebook and Twitter. In order to do this, however, you’ll need to play the influencer game—connecting with everyday influencers. But don’t be scared— jump in! The water’s fine and solid influencer engagement can be very rewarding.

But who are these Instagram influencers?

Check out this Adweek infographic on millennial women micro influencers. The below graphic is just a taste of what you’ll find if you head to the larger article. But as you can see, micro influencers are those with around 2k to 25k followers “who closely watch their style and brand affiliations”. On Instagram, follower count is important but so is one’s level of engagement—how many comments and likes an influencer receives can be a strong measure of persuasion.

Instagram Influencers

 With this for inspiration, let’s look at micro influencer engagement for nonprofit causes. How are you building relationships now that will turn into donations, actions and mentions later?

1. Let Instagram suggest influencer accounts to follow

The easiest way to find influencers and let them know about you is to ask Instagram for suggestions. First, think of a non-celebrity, down-to-earth influencer who’s interested in your cause.

For example, let’s look at the awesome Baratunde Thurston, my co-conspirator and co-founder at our once-popular political blog Jack and Jill Politics. Baratunde is not only a comedian and entrepreneur who is passionate about several key causes, but he’s also a high-Klout influencer on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. If you click the down arrow near his name (right of the Follow button), Instagram will suggest others—in this case, like Bartunde— that you may be interested in as well. You’ll then see who follows you back 🙂

Instagram Influencer Follower Suggestion

2. Do your research on influencers and what interests them

Beyond getting a little help from Instagram, there are other ways to find the influencers who might be enlisted to support your cause. So now let’s think about how to reach them.

We can learn from for-profit companies that are reaching out effectively to micro influencers in order to reach their base of followers. While vitamin, beauty and fashion companies may have to pay influencers to get involved in promoting their products, nonprofits, foundations and NGOs can inspire influencer involvement with its mission for free!

You can actually search within social media platforms for keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your nonprofit’s issues. Instagram has a great search engine and is heavily hashtag-driven. However, someone who has been popular on Twitter for awhile may be quickly building a powerful Instagram presence as well and may be looking for ways to accelerate that growth. Aligning with you on a compelling campaign might be a win for both parties as well as for your mission.

Hootsuite also has a number of apps in their App Directory that you can add into the platform—mostly free or low cost— that can help you find influencers on Instagram & other social media platforms. Trendspottr is a great place to start.

Start a list (say, in a spreadsheet or doc) of the Instagram micro influencers you want to track and consider reaching out when you have something great or time-sensitive to share.

Before the next step, make sure that your Instagram page shares shining examples of your work and your team so that you’re seen as an equal partner. Micro influencers will want to promote brands that reflect well upon their own presence. Use your account to demonstrate the importance of your cause and the ways in which your organization is creating real change.

3. Ask those micro influencers to help

Once you know the micro influencers you’d like to involve in your organization’s mission (and you know that they’d be interested in your cause), you have to ask them to be involved. First, make sure to follow them and leave a supportive comment on a relevant post—or even just a like—so the micro influencer notices you. Build a relationship by sending a private message.

Here’s a suggestion on getting started. Write some fascinating text about what you’re sharing: “Thank you @microinfluencername for your support of this issue! Here’s a sneak peek at what we’re up to. Would love to partner with you! Can we talk offline?”

Don’t expect much in terms of direct conversions (eg sign ups) via Instagram, but use it to build trust and awareness with a younger, tech-savvy, affluent and diverse emerging base. Multiple touches from different platforms matter for increasing your overall base’s interest. Instagram interactions in particular help create connection to your cause, and people on Insta AKA the Gram are often more ready to engage and interact with organizations and brands than they are on Facebook and Twitter.

One idea for an ask that might appeal to micro influencers would be a page shout (or event shout). First, search hashtags related to your mission and see which micro influencers are engaging around that issue (or select from the list you’ve already created!), and see if they are doing page or event shouts, or whether they might be interested in doing one for you—perhaps they’d be open to encouraging their followers to check out your organization’s campaign.

We hope these three micro influencer tips help you generate more excitement about your work! Make sure you’re in it for the long haul, with steady and frequent posts over time. If you haven’t yet, please read my first post in this Instagram series, Instagram for Nonprofits — How Your Org Can Get Onboard.


Cheryl Contee specializes in helping non-profit organizations and foundations use social tech to create social good. She is also the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics writing as “Jill Tubman” on one of the top black blogs online.

Cheryl was recently named as an Affiliate of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Cheryl is included in The Root 100 list of established and emerging African-American leaders. Huffington Post listed her as one of the Top 27 Female Founders in Tech to Follow on Twitter in 2011. Fast Company named her one of their 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech to Follow on Twitter. She serves on numerous boards and is a sought-after speaker for TV, news media and conferences.

She received her B.A. from Yale University and has an International Executive M.B.A. from Georgetown University.


Comments (2)

  • Brice says:

    I like it. It’s the long-game. Get their attention and trust, build upon that, and when they do reach that moment in life where they want to donate, you are on the top of the list.

    If any Catholics are reading this, I upload weekly content on my life and times of fundraising for Catholics apostolates, religious orders, charities, schools, universities, parishes, and dioceses.

    Check me out at

  • Tomas says:

    Hi Cheryl, I think that leveraging Instagram influencers for non-profit is very good strategy how to rise awareness on specific problem.

    Hit me email on founders(a), I would love to help you with your influencer outreach. We have free plan for non-profits.

    See more about our app:

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