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Steal These 42 Creative Pinterest Ideas for Nonprofits

We’re about to see Pinterest use among nonprofit organizations explode. Pinterest has a lot of potential, especially for organizations whose stories lend themselved to visual storytelling. 

Pinterest is a new(ish) and growing a image based social network and the newest darling of social media marketers. I’m always intrigued to see how nonprofits find creative ways to use new social media tools, but I didn’t think seriously about Pinterest’s potential for nonprofits until I read Joe Waters and Beth Kanter’s thoughts. Now I’m excited to see how cause communities embrace this emerging network to create value and mission impact.

A Matter of Demographics 


Part of Pinterest’s potential is it’s unique demographic user-base. Joe explains the what makes Pinterest demographically unique in his recent Huffington Post piece, Why and How Causes Should Use Pinterest:

“The heavy presence of women 25-44 on Pinterest is what distinguishes it from other new social media platforms, which are generally populated by men 18-24. Here's a site that already has the audience everyone wants: women and moms who make most of the household buying decisions.”

Those buying decisions include donation and charitable decisions, and with women bringing in over half the income in 55% of US households, nonprofits should think about how they can engage Pinterest’s largely female audience.

Pinterest Guidelines


Beth explains that much of her attraction to Pinterest is due to her visual learning style and role as a content curator. Beth summarized some of the guidelines Joe shared for using Pinterest:

  • Be useful
  • Pinterest users are looking for ideas and inspiration.
  • Create categories that reflect what users are looking for.
  • Give the job to someone who has an eye for aesthetics.
  • Learn from these 15 Pinterest superusers.
  • Don’t just pin, repin.
  • Let your supporters pin for you.
  • Add “pin it” buttons to your blog or web site so your visitors and supporters can create their own pin boards that highlight your cause.

A Creative Opportunity


Joe also shared some great Pinterest use-cases for nonprofits to experiment with including a Pinboards of fashionable used clothes available in Goodwill stores and beautiful images endangered frogs Conservation International is working to save.

Check out Joe’s full thoughts on Pinterest – his perspective is worth reading in full. 

I thought I’d take the examples Joe as a challenge and see how many creative nonprofit Pinterest Board ideas and use-cases I can come up with. Here goes... 

Steal these 42 Creative Pinterest Ideas for Nonprofits


If you're an animal shelter or animal rights organization:

Credit to Flickr user: Dennis from Atlanta1. Pin pictures of animals who need homes. Share the story of each animal in the Pin Description. Where where was Scruffie found? Did she need medical care? Were you able to find a home for her?

2. Pin pictures of families who adopt animals from your shelter. Many animal adoption sevices 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. 

3. Create an archive of your favorite pet toys! Bonus for pictures of your furry friends in action chasing and playing with them.

4. Create a shared Board for families who adopt animals to share updates with pics showing how their happy pet is doing. Set up a system to reach out asking for a Pinterest update a few months after the adoption.

Pro tip: You can create communal Pinterest Boards in the Board settings. Set "Who can pin items?" to "Me + Contributors".

If you're a church, synagogue, or other religious organization:

Credit to Flickr user: evilpeacock5. 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.

6. Pin pictures of people in their costumes at your holiday party carnival. Cute ninja turtle and princess costumed toddlers show up in droves at my synagogue to hear the Scroll of Esther read every year for Purim. Hold a Santa-Con celebration to get in the Christmas spirit, get pictures of people's paint-smeared faces at Holi, take advantage of when neighborhood kids show up to trick-or-treat at your door.

7. Pin animated and cartooon bible stories.

If you're a school:

8. Pin things that your kindergarteners bring in for Show-and-Tell.

9. Pin your students science fair projects.

Credit to Flickr user: Aberdeen Proving Ground10. Pin athletic awards and trophies before putting them in your display case.

11. Pin masterpieces from the budding artists in your arts classes.

12. Pin useful school-supplies you need with links to Amazon product pages that parents can buy for the school.

13. Book covers of books on your school librararians wish list. 

14. Better yet, book covers of books your 5th graders have done book reports on. If you are able to get parental permission to post their work, post the reports on your blog and link the pins to the related reports.

15. Have each homeroom teacher set up a Board with fun pins from their class and share the Boards by email with parents so they can follow along and repin they are proud of and want to share with their child's family and friends. Be prepared to field some teacher questions.

If you're an environmental organization:

16. Pin images of endangered species. If you pin images from where they are embeded in your blog posts, your pins will be linked to the research and context you've written already. Then Pinterest users can click through and learn more about what they can do to help and how they can support your mission.

17. Pin pics of unique beach trash your volunteer teams clean up.

18. Build a collection of innovative recycling in your community. Think about the tire-swing at the park, the basketball court made from old sneaker rubber, the community garden using the snow from an organic office paper shredder as insulation, the kids art project made from old bottle caps, etc. 

If you're a museum, zoo, or aquarium:

19. Create a shared Board for visitors to pin their favorite works of art or to share shots of themselves feeding their favorite animals. (In exhibits and galleries where photography is permitted, of course!) To pull this off well you'll want to print up some effective signage to orient people to what Pinterest is about and how the museum is using it. Include a QR code that visitors can scan to get to the Pinterest mobile download page.

20. Pin images your share in blog posts you invite your docents, art-historians, visiting faculty, guest speakers, and other experts educators to write for you. Pinning images within your blog posts and articles is a great way to share the context, significance, and larger story behind the visuals. People definitely browse Pinterest for visual eye-candy, but bring in your mission and educate people when you can, it's your mission after all!

21. Create boards of animal or fish pics by color. Pinterest users looking for design inspiration often search for things by color, plus it's a fun way to surprise people with the visual variety of your furry and flippered residents.

If you're a veterans organization:

Credit to Flickr user: Official U.S. Navy Imagery22. Pin pics of returning vets - ships coming into port with sailors on deck in dress uniform, army rangers meeting their families for the first time in months, happy kids hugging dad - all of those images have powerful and deeply personal stories behind them. Use those visual stories to show what the sacrifice troops make means in real-life terms and why your work supporting the veterans community is so important.

23. Pin images of different kinds of military awards and metals. Some of them are beautiful. Each pin can recognize a servicemember who has earned the award with a link to their story.

24. Build a collection of military uniforms - every branch of the service has a wide variety. Tons of uniforms are utilitarian and directly suited to the wearer responsibility. Think flight-deck suits, coast-gaurd swimmer gear, navy-divers in scuba gear, dozens of different kinds of helmets and the vehicle or unit each is unique to, pilot's headsets and masks.

If you're a foundation:

25. Pin images from your grantees' projects.

26. Collect images that demonastrate the problem your are trying to solve.

27. Community foundations can pin things they want to celebrate in the community. That might mean the new school opening, the elder-care center, the new hospital wing, or the playground you funded to help revitalize the neighborhood. 

If you're a health organization or hospital:

28. Show the kinds of toys that are helpful for people to donate to your hospital for the holidays.

Credit to Flickr user: Tropic~729. Pin images of recovered people leaving the hospital.

30. Pin images from medical journals and magazines highlghting the research your medical teams are working on. 

31. Build a Board of images modeling healthy food choices.

32. Curate a Board of quick, easy to learn exercises.

If you're a women’s organization:

 33. Pin campaign buttons and stickers from the political campaigns of women candidates. 

34. Create a Board of "community superwomen" and invite your supporters to pin images of women who inspire them and why. You can also use this to pin pics of your most active volunteers, board members, honorees, etc.

35. Pin images showing the achievements of women you want to show as role-models in your community.

36. Pin examples of discrimination in the workplace from articles you find or stories your members submit. 

Ideas from the community:

Beth Kanter shared a Storify of nonprofits on Pinterest that she put together. Here are some of the ideas from organizations already experimenting that Beth and others in the community shared with me.

37. The Archives of American Art has pinboards for notable artists journals and Facial hair of note - "Misplace your paintbrush? Just use your beard!"

38. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a Pinterest Board with items for sale in the museum store. Many of the Pins include links to the product page in the online store. They've also got a fun Board of square and cubed objects in the collection called It's Hip to Be Square.

39. AARP has a fun board called 50+ Style - "Who says only 20 year olds can be fashion icons?". Another creative board they've curated is for Saving Tips they've found around the web.

40. charity:water has a Photo of the Day Pinterest Board showing images from the field that tell the story of their water work on the ground.

41. In addition to Pinterest Boards of wildlife and nature photography that you would expect, National Wildlife Federation has a board sharing ways to Explore and Get Outdoors

42. Amnesty International USA has a Board with a recommended Human Rights Reading List for supporters to check out to learn more about the issue.

This is just a beginning.


Organizations can run with Pinterest in many more creative ways. I’m sure we can expand on this together in the comments. By the way, you should follow us! Care2 for Nonprofits

Avi Kaplan is a Senior Strategist at Rad Campaign, a firm that provides web design, web development, online marketing, and strategy to nonprofit organizations and political campaigns.

Reader Comments (10)

Thank you! I've been looking for use cases for how Pinterest can be used on the organizational level. Great list!
January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie Lynsen
Thank you! I incorporated some of these ideas when I made a Civil Rights-themed Pinterest for MLK Day. It's based on my non-profit's initiatives, as well as pins from others on the site. http://pinterest.com/loislane79/civil-rights-equality-freedom-martin-luther-king-j/
January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney
Nice one, Avi! and thanks for the mention.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
I have to admit, I'm not ready to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. I think the ability to store and organize visual information is great, but I'm skeptical about it's value for creating campaigns or strategies around. Maybe my biggest hesitancy is coming from the thought of building information on yet another platform. I think smarter strategies involve pulling information and people from existing channels into your own channel, or, alternatively, pushing your pictures and stories into channels that are already heavy populated. I don't think Pinterest is the best platform for either of those strategies -- at least not yet.

I'm already hearing some nonprofit professionals ask questions like "my nonprofit is not that visual, so I'm trying to think about how we can make use of Pinterest" -- which sends up a red flag for me because, and maybe I'm crazy, but this nonprofit probably isn't ready to invest time in Pinterest but could benefit from first exploring whether and how visual storytelling, as a strategy, is right for them and their cause.

I'm happy to be proven wrong about this, and it may be that developers and organizations find ways to harness the visual display capabilities of Pinterest for more effective community-building and support-driving uses, but for now it falls into that "shiny new object" category for me, which means I think it's great for folks to test out, but I wouldn't drive nonprofits to invest time and resources there yet.
January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnaliese
I'm with you Annaliese. Just because a site is now out there and it's hot, doesn't mean you should be there too. I am also waiting to see if brands and organizations create too much clutter and noise, ruining the experience for some of the early users.
January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngel
I am a regular Pinterest user and a PR professional. I hope that this type of self-promotion does not become the norm on the site; it's one of the few places that remains (nearly) pure of PR.
January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAW
Great post Avi!

I saw pinterest recently and it really didn't register to me as significant. But that's just me. Your mention of demographics really hit me. When designing or developing anything I like to keep in mind profiles or personas of the potential end user. For me, I'm probably not the right guy to post on pinterest, but if I think of four to six other people, they would love it.

Hollywood might say it was a visual twitter feed of well curated pictures. Add to that the demographics and income levels - pictures a non-profit adds to pinterest and it could really reach the right people. Maybe it's not worth it for some non-profits because of their size, staffing, or money could be allocated differently, but I see it now as something to consider.
January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrank
Any thoughts or ideas on using Pinterest to market a non-profit sports association? Any input would be great!
February 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJT
Thank you! I've been looking for use cases for how Pinterest can be used on the organizational level. Great list!
July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
any idea to start pinterest for children's choir?
July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLingoQueen

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