Mark Zuckerberg owns a large chunk of our online lives. Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp. His team knows everything about us. For good or bad.

But I’m not here to complain. I want to use data about Facebook, Instagram and nonprofits and help your organization maximize its presence on those two platforms.

In February, Rival IQ released their 2021 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. The report looks at brands in 14 different industries and their posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Nonprofits are one of the reviewed industries.

This post takes a look at Facebook and Instagram data and how your nonprofit can upgrade its presence, boost engagement and increase click thrus.

The Law Of Averages

The data in the report is based on averages. Is your organization doing better than average? Awesome! But it is worth looking at what’s going on across social media and seeing how you can improve.

Remember: Social media engagement = building relationships with followers.

Sound familiar? That’s because fundraising = building relationships with donors and prospects.

Your goal on social media is to give people a reason to follow you, learn more about your mission, click links so they can be mobilized to take an action and connect with your organization.

Two general pieces of data from the 14 industries reviewed:

  • Brands are posting less frequently on Facebook
  • Instagram engagement rates fell about 25%

Neither data point shocks me. See below for an explanation of why and what your nonprofit can do.


Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash


Three nonprofit data points of interest:

  • Nonprofits post an average of 9.2 posts per week
  • Engagement rate per post: 0.13%
  • Engagement rate per type of post: Status (lowest), video and link (middle), photo (highest).

Essentially Facebook has become a pay-for-play platform. Want people who Liked your organization’s page to see your posts in their feed? Then promote your posts or run ads. It’s that simple.

Nonprofits are posting more than once a day but the engagement rate? Almost zero. There could be two reasons for that- and they could be connected to each other:

  • Facebook has put an emphasis on displaying family/friends posts in people’s personal feeds. They’re gonna see fewer of your page posts.
  • Your content isn’t that engaging and therefore when it does show up in a person’s feed, people simply aren’t interacting with your posts. The result? Over time, Facebook notices which people don’t engage with your posts and will simply stop displaying them in that person’s feed. Now that follower is no longer exposed to your posts and the connection with them is almost non-existent.

So what’s a nonprofit to do?

  1. Content strategy: If you don’t have one, get on it! If you do have one, look at the data and see what you can tweak and test to boost your engagement rate.
  2. Quality posts: Start posting more photos, videos and links. A general status isn’t gonna cut it. Post photos and/or videos from events, your work in the community, behind the scenes, testimonials from donors. Put a spotlight on a volunteer. Record a service recipient saying thank you to supporters. In short, find content that people will connect with as they’re going through their feed. For example, a great photo that will make them stop scrolling and pay attention.
  3. Pay up: Sorry to say but if your boss insists on having an active Facebook presence, time to start paying for ads. Ad strategy and content is an entirely different post but a small amount of money can help drive a decent amount of traffic to your site. Test a few ads and spend only a few dollars a day. Look at the very robust data Facebook provides for ads, tweak and test some more.

You might get the impression that I’m not “high” on Facebook. And you’d be right.

When general post reach is 1-2% (only 1-2% of your page followers will see your posts in their feed) and engagement extremely low, it’s no wonder that I’m not a big fan.

Does that mean you won’t/can’t be successful using Facebook? Absolutely not! But again, the law of averages. If your organization had to choose between a presence on Facebook or Instagram, Instagram would be my choice.


Four nonprofit data points of interest:

  • Nonprofits post an average of 4 times per week
  • 1.41% engagement rate per post
  • Engagement rate per post: video (lowest), photo (middle), carousel (highest)
  • Carousels had double the engagement rate of videos.

Yes, the engagement rate on Instagram isn’t great. But Instagram offers two very simple ways to increase engagement:

  • Carousel: A carousel is when you use multiple pictures (and/or videos) in an individual post. You can post up to 10 pictures in one post. Why is that important and why does carousel engagement rate do better than videos or a single photo?

It’s impossible to figure out Instagram’s algorithm. No rhyme or reason as to which posts end up in a person’s feed. However, carousels can increase visibility.

Let’s say you put 6 pictures in a carousel post. The first time I scroll through my feed I see your post but I keep scrolling. Maybe the picture (picture 1 of the 6) didn’t interest me. But later in the day (or in the hour, depending on how often you open Instagram), I see picture 2 of 6 in my feed and it captures my attention. Now I might swipe and view the rest of the carousel pictures.

Carousel posts will show up in my feed more than once. Carousel = more chances to be seen in the feed. More chances to be seen = more chances for engagement.

  • Stories: 500,000,000 people view Instagram Stories DAILY. Think about how you use Instagram: Are you doomscrolling through the feed or constantly refreshing Stories and watching the latest and greatest from the accounts you follow?

Stories allows you to engage your followers in a multitude of ways: Quizzes, polls, music, GIFs, add a countdown, state your location and more. The more engaging content you add to Stories, the more opportunities you provide followers to see and interact with your slides.

As people get used to viewing your Stories on a daily basis, you’ll have more chances to encourage them to visit your site, sign up for events, join as a volunteer, donate. Quality Stories content = quality engagement.

Maximize Your Facebook And Instagram Presence

Facebook and Instagram continue to be platforms where nonprofits can reach out to their local community and beyond, raise awareness about their mission and advocate for their service recipients.

Nonprofits CAN have a presence where followers engage, comment, share, click and learn. Success relies heavily on great content and knowing how to utilize that content to get people to stop scrolling, read and react.

Zuck may control our world but your organization is responsible for the content you post. For now anyway.  

Does your organization’s email fundraising need a boost? Want more people to subscribe to your newsletter? Looking for content that encourages more people to click thru? Are you ready for your emails to convert subscribers into donors? Then my Email Marketing Kickstart is for you! Sign up now and receive a 15% discount off the regular price. Your email should be helping your fundraising and marketing efforts so you can service more people in your community. Let’s make it happen!