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Engaging donors and securing funding. Finding volunteers. Standing out from competitors. Small and large non-profits have many challenges to face. One step you can take to improve your non-profit’s chances of success is to embrace influencer marketing. Before you get started, it helps to understand the benefits of influencer marketing for non-profits, how to utilize influencers and how to find the right ones for your organization.

The Benefits: How Can Non-Profits Leverage Influencers?

The most common ways that an influencer can help your non-profit are:

Increased credibility. It’s your job as a non-profit organization to gain the trust and support of patrons. However, this can be difficult when first starting out. Luckily, influencers have a lot of power because of the special bonds they form with their followers. When you pair with a popular influencer, you’ll immediately pique the interest of their followers as well. This helps you achieve more testimonials and proof of credibility from a larger following.

Name association. Working with benefactors becomes a lot easier when they know who you are. Collaborating with popular influencers ensures that your non-profit is at the forefront of the public’s mind. Interested parties can confirm the collaboration with a quick search of your non-profit. With your name associated with certain influencers, you’re sure to stand out.

A personal touch. There’s nothing patrons like more than having someone to truly connect with. Working with an engaging influencer puts a friendly face to your organization. Even influencers with small followings can make an impact if they have friendly personalities. Choose someone who has similar values to your mission so you can both feel good about their support.

What’s It Like to Work With Influencers?

You know the benefits of working with an influencer. But what does that collaboration look like? Here are some quick examples of how an influencer pairs with non-profits to increase recognition.

  • Live events: Influencers often interact with their follower base through live streams. Whether on TikTok, Instagram or other online spaces, influencers can host live Q/A’s to increase engagement
  • Podcasts and streams: Have the influencer host an interview with the CEO or other members of the organization. Make the experience more interactive with questions from followers. Podcasts and YouTube streams also help to reach a larger audience and expand your online presence.
  • Volunteer: If your non-profit works with an in-person community, invite the influencer along. They can feel good about giving back while sharing their journey and spreading the word to their online followers.
  • Other online engagement: Actively engage with the influencer on a regular basis. Share their posts as they are sharing yours, and remember to like and comment regularly. The more the influencer is involved with your accounts, the better.

The Ideal Partner: What Types of Influencers Are Best for Non-Profits?

You can work with a few different types of influencers, and each can potentially help you raise funds. The main ones to focus on are mega- and micro-influencers. Although they are influential in different ways, they are both beneficial. Let’s take a look at how these influencer types help non-profits.

Type 1: Mega-influencers

Mega-influencers tend to be celebrities, performers, athletes or other public figures. Partnering with celebrities and influencers with huge followings can immediately boost awareness of your non-profit. Sometimes mega-influencers are willing to endorse non-profits they truly care about.

According to Look to the Stars, some examples of famous names supporting non-profits include:

  • Lady Gaga, Barack Obama and Daniel Radcliffe supporting The Trevor Project, a non-profit that aids in suicide prevention for queer and trans youths
  • Zendaya, Terry Crews and Betty White supporting the American Heart Association, a non-profit that aids in reducing disability and harm from cardiovascular disease
  • Katy Perry, Andy Cohen and Snoop Dogg supporting Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that aids in providing affordable housing for families

With IZEA’s Discovery search tool, use filters to make it easy finding mega-influencers.

Type 2: Micro-influencers

If you can’t connect with a celebrity, don’t worry. Working with micro-influencers might even yield better results. This is because micro-influencers are able to connect with followers on a more personal level.

Working in a specific niche also helps micro-influencers yield better results. They typically have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers. This allows them to captivate the interest of fans with their own unique content. From food and travel to film and art, micro-influencers connect over real things with real people.

More benefits of working micro-influencers include:

  • A loyal following
  • Specialization in and understanding of their niche
  • Trust in their opinions and thoughts from followers
  • Easy to get in contact with and oftentimes eager to work with sponsors
  • Better availability than someone famous

Narrow your search using the connections filters to find micro-influencers with followers between 10-50K. Learn more about IZEA’s influencer search tool, IZEAx Discovery.

The Search: What Should Non-Profits Look for When Vetting an Influencer?

Vetting an influencer takes time, but there are some key items that will help you narrow your search. Use these tips for vetting influencers to find the best one for your non-profit:

  1. Ensure they have a genuine interest in your cause. Influencers should have passion about what you do. This helps them engage audiences through online campaigns and fundraising efforts. If you don’t know where to start looking, try your own patrons first. Micro-influencers could already be following your account, all you need to do is connect with them.
  2. Ensure they are trustworthy and genuine. Working with influencers is all about making genuine connections. Review influencer content to make sure they treat their followers well. Avoid connecting with people who buy followers or fake their follower count.

The Budget: Is Influencer Marketing for Non-Profits Affordable?

Influencers often ask businesses for compensation for their work, especially if content creation and sustained campaigning are involved. But if your non-profit has a tight budget, don’t feel discouraged. You can still find ways to bring in influencers. In fact, influencers who are truly passionate about your cause may be willing to work without compensation. If that happens, the collaboration will look even more authentic to audiences.

As you plan to collaborate with an influencer, consider offering them some creative perks. Here are some examples:

  • Allow a social media influencer to visit your non-profit’s headquarters for a tour of the space. As they walk around, the visit can be captured on live stream for your audience. The influencer gets a free tour, and you receive exposure.
  • Give an influencer a ticket to one of your events and ask them to take pictures and record videos. Then they’ll share the content on a platform like Instagram or TikTok.
  • Give an influencer a platform to talk about what the cause means to them and explain why they’re helping. This could take place during a livestream broadcast from your non-profit’s account.

Reaching Out

Before you reach out to an influencer, make an attempt to engage with their online content. Follow their social media account or accounts. Like or share their content. Leave a kind comment under some of their posts. These steps may grab their attention, and let them know you appreciate their online presence.

Afterward, either DM or email them with a polite request to collaborate. If they’re open to helping your non-profit, you can respond with a message that outlines your specific needs. Be clear about what you’re asking for. If you want them to live stream an event, how long does it need to be? If you want them to make a series of Instagram posts, should they include certain hashtags or captions? You should also be clear about what you’re offering the influencer in return for their work.