Snapchat: How Can Non-Profits Benefit from this New Social Media Platform

Looking back at 2013, there’s no doubt that non-profit organizations have matured in their ability to leverage social media to promote their causes. As we set forth in advancing our communication strategies for 2014, it’s time to look beyond the “holy trinity” of social media, Twitter, Facbook and Youtube. It’s time organizations begin pushing the envelope by embracing some of the newer platforms. Of course, many organizations are just getting in a groove with the main three and new platforms emerge each day, but Snapchat seems to be gaining significant traction with all the right influencers and marketers.


Snapchat Logo

Especially with Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, which have decimated engagement levels, smart organizations are diversifying their online communication channels and creatively reaching new markets.

Staying relevant on social media trends is critical to relaying your message to new audiences.

Many businesses like 16 HandlesTaco Bell, and IHOP, have already embraced Snapchat by integrating instant, disappearing, coupon codes into their social strategy, and successfully reaching the highly influential youth demographic that is increasingly fleeing from Facebook.

Here are a few ways non-profits can use Snapchat as a unique medium to share and engage with the millions of users already on this platform.

Go Behind the Scenes- Insider Marketing

Organizations are always running events, dinners, fundraisers. Snapchat offers organizations the opportunity to engage supporters to create excitement leading up to a campaign. The organization could ‘leak’ exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, photos of new merchandise, or a sneak peek of some of the VIP’s.


Encourage users to snap pictures or videos from an event that the organization is hosting or sponsoring. User generated content, albeit momentary, will provide any organization with a unique perspective on what their audience views as important.

 Volunteer Engagement

Users could send Snaps of themselves supporting a non-profit’s mission, like picking vegetables, cooking at a food kitchen or collecting food parcels. In turn, the organization could reply with a ‘thank you’ snap that includes a coupon code.

 Story Telling

As of October, Snapchat released a Stories feature which enables brands to build and string together a narrative over the course of a day. Stories can be viewed as many times before the 24 hours is up and then they disappear. Clips are removed piece by piece as they reach the time limit and newer ones are added to the end of the story cycle. This could be an interesting method to show progress and development over the course of a 24-hour cycle. Especially in organizations that focus on rehabilitation or emergency relief, 24 hours of storytelling could have a significant impact. I fully expect an organization like Charity: Water to be at the helm of integrating Snapchat into their social media suite. Their simple and extremely effective marketing messaging is ideal for a platform like this. Note: Before you can use Stories you need to build a following. People have to want to add you to their feeds. This means that non-proifts will have to commit to engaging regularly on Snapchat before Stories can become an effective marketing tool. Just don’t be afraid to include the audience in the development cycle of the organization.

One- on- One Communication

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, a digital marketing master, Snapchat is the best platform today because it’s an ephemeral, one-to-one experience which yields high engagement. Reaching a smaller engaged audience is more important for personal brands than a massive disengaged audience, says Vaynerchuk. Applying this theory to non-profit organizations, sending  donor specific Snaps could increase donor involvement with projects as they can see first-hand the impact their support has on a project.

Instant Donor Gratification

While discussing how Snapchat could be integrated by non-profits with colleagues, one of the suggestions was sending instant gratification snaps to donors. On the picture would be text that says “quick thanks for your support” and then the real donor thank you letter to follow.

 Mobile Only Offers

With mobile usage on the rise, organizations could leverage their database of mobile numbers inviting them to Snapchat and create mobile-only offers. Doubling down on #GivingTuesday, coupon codes for merchandise from the organization, or requesting an instant response to an emergency campaign. Important: Despite last week’s phone number leak snafu, I still am confident that Snapchat will be a force to reckon with in the coming year.


The main thing for non-profit organizations is to get their heads around is the lack of tangible ROI associated with Snapchat. Unlike other marketing tools, where you can count your followers or retweets, Snapchat does not allow you to keep a record. Social media or community managers will need to keep track of the activity through other social sites. This means that the professional responsible for social media will need to have a good hold on the organization’s entire social footprint, and must be prepared to react quickly. This year will be huge for Snapchat, and as non-profit marketers we need to be where the user’s eyeballs are. Only innovative organizations will take advantage of this platform and raise Snapchat to a whole new level. How do you think organizations can benefit from SnapChat? Find me on Snapchat (mordecai.holtz) and tell me or leave a message below.


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