A few nonprofits started using Stories right away. However, there was no way to give viewers an easy call-to-action. In order to donate, users had to click out of the app. To solve the problem, Instagram introduced donation stickers in April of 2019.
How it Works
Donation stickers are intuitive for those already familiar with Instagram Stories and stickers. When a user posts a photo to a story, they can select a donation sticker from the special effects tray. Instagram then prompts them to link the sticker to a nonprofit that they follow, a nonprofit that is trending on Instagram or a nonprofit from their dropdown list.
To show up on the list, nonprofits must have an Instagram business page, be registered with Facebook Payments, and have their Facebook page connected with their Instagram account.
When a donor taps a donation sticker, they see a popup that contains the nonprofit’s bio and a range of dollar amounts from which to choose. They can also click through to the nonprofit’s website.
The first time a donor gives on Instagram, they’ll have to register their payment information. After that, they can donate between $5 and $2500 at a time. If they swipe up on the story, they’ll see a running total of the contributions.
Instagram doesn’t deduct any fees, so nonprofits get 100% of the donations.
Instagram Giving Activity So Far
Looking at some of the top nonprofits that GoodUnited serves, we haven’t seen much activity with Instagram giving yet. Instagram is only giving nonprofits a few hundred dollars so far, as opposed to the thousands they’ve received from Facebook fundraisers. For nonprofits we have worked with, the average donation on Instagram is about $11.50, while the average donation on Facebook is $20.
Why isn’t Instagram giving bringing in hundreds of thousands in donations like Facebook fundraisers? Here are some of our hypotheses:
Stories and Stickers Are New
Facebook fundraisers are in their fourth year, but fundraising activity didn’t take off until 2017. Instagram users may still be getting used to the Stories feature or they may be getting used to the donation feature within Stories, which is an entirely different process than giving to a Facebook fundraiser.
Campaigns Are Shorter
Facebook fundraisers last up to two weeks while Instagram Stories only last 24 hours, reducing the number of people who have the opportunity to see them.
Active vs. Passive Engagement
On Facebook, a fundraisers posts to a user’s feed. All their followers have to do is scroll to see it, which is a fairly passive action. On Instagram, users have to click the Stories icon to see it, requiring them to actively leave their feed.
Facebook Prompts, Instagram Doesn’t
Facebook prompts users to start fundraisers on their birthdays. Instagram doesn’t.
Nonprofits Are Still Learning
Nonprofits are still learning how to use Stories to their advantage, and many are just learning how important storytelling is to raising money on social media. To raise money on Instagram, nonprofits must create and implement a strategy to drive donations.
No Messenger Functionality
Facebook Messenger allows nonprofits to leverage innovation solutions such as GoodUnited’s managed services and custom Messenger bots that help them engage with donors and fundraisers. Instagram doesn’t have that functionality.
Leveraging Instagram Giving
One way nonprofits may be able to boost giving through Instagram is to use Stories in the same way they use live streaming on Facebook, and by teaming up with influencers to drive donations.
When Instagram rolled out the donation sticker, they teamed up with celebrities and their favorite nonprofits to spread the word (You may not be able to recruit Julia Roberts to create a Story for you, but you may be able to partner with local influencers in your community).
Is Messenger for Instagram on the Way?
Facebook announced earlier this year that they are aligning their backend infrastructure for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram messaging. Using Facebook tools, users would be able to send a message to any one of those channels. It wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook developed a way to connect Messenger to Instagram, opening up a communication channel between platforms – and between nonprofits and donors.
Right now, fundraising through Facebook is giving nonprofits the most significant lift and it’s unlikely that Instagram will generate the kind of funds Facebook fundraisers have – at least for a while. Still, there’s value to unlock in Instagram. You just need a well-thought-out strategy and active approach.
Every significant shift in giving happens with a single step. When we think about landing pages and websites, it started small; not many people were using the Internet. Those organizations that were early adopters were well positioned to capitalize on the opportunity when the market caught up. It’s the same for Instagram: you must start somewhere. Nonprofits that put in the early work will be better positioned later.