Pinterest, a social media network that was invitation only until August 2012, is one of the hottest tools for small businesses and nonprofits. The trouble many small businesses and nonprofits face is figuring out how to utilize Pinterest to its fullest potential.

To make the most of this network, you must first understand what it is. So, what exactly is Pinterest? I’m glad you asked!

Pinterest is…

…a scrapbook or pinboard that allows you to “pin” websites and images that you like and want to refer back to later. It allows you to create categories or boards that organize your thoughts, images, and websites. According to, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

One of the best things about Pinterest is that everything you pin is clickable. This means that you can link to your website or to a registration page to drive traffic back to your assets. When you pin a link, Pinterest pulls all images from that specific page and you can choose which image you would like to represent your link.

Just remember, you do not want to drive traffic back to only your website. If you find a website or article that you like and think would apply to one of your boards, pin it. If you follow someone who pinned something you really liked, repin it! Pinterest is still a social network, so make sure to interact with followers by repining or commenting on their great pins.

Here are 7 Pinterest tips for nonprofits.

1. “Pin” your personality

Just as you would use Instagram for your nonprofit, one of the best ways to use an image platform is to show your volunteers/employees and your cause through imagery. Why? Pinterest drives three times more web traffic to other sites than Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, and StumbleUpon combined.. I’m going to guess that you would appreciate some extra traffic to your website.

The best way to show your personality and increase web traffic is to pin the great images you take as well as background information on your website. Then, go to Pinterest, pin that specific page from your website, and select the image you want to show your audience.

Example: If you own a nonprofit pet shelter, create boards that link back to your adoptable pets, volunteers working with the animals, and behind-the-scenes photos.

2. Show your knowledge

You’re an expert in your field…embrace it! Create a board all about your field.

Example: Back to the nonprofit pet shelter, create a board that links to tips on how to groom your pet, make homemade treats, and best ways to house train your pet. These boards are most effective when they link to websites, articles, and pins from sources other than your own.

3. Let your hair down

Pinterest is a great place to let loose a little.

Do you love quotes? Hint: Most people do. Create a Pinterest board with your favorite quotes and sayings.

Did you and your volunteers go on a fun field trip? Upload the images you took and show your followers the fun side of your nonprofit.

4. Follow the pinner

Don’t forget to follow like-minded pinners and follow back the like-minded pinners who follow you! You can get a lot of inspiration from other nonprofits who use Pinterest.

Begin to grow those relationships by sharing (or repining) their pins in the appropriate boards.

5. Share the love

Pinterest allows you to share your knowledge, images, and website with others all in one place. This is a HUGE advantage for nonprofits. One of the most important parts of being a nonprofit is building your relationships.

Create a board for “Nonprofits Doing it Right” or “Nonprofit Tips and Best Practices” and pin information you find from other nonprofits. These pins could be about an event a nonprofit is holding or a page all about their volunteers.

Constant Contact has a board for “Nonprofit Tips and Best Practices.” This board is geared towards marketing education, but your board can go in many different directions. Check it out below.

6. Raise money

That’s right! You can raise money on Pinterest! Pinterest makes it really easy for you to hold an auction or sell a fundraising item on Pinterest. Simply add a “$” with the price amount in the description section of your pin and Pinterest will automatically add a grey banner in the top-left corner of the image that will display the cost. The item will also be added to the “Gifts” tab on the Pinterest homepage.

7. Connect the dots

Just like any other social network, you want to make sure you connect the dots by including the Pinterest logo anywhere your customers/volunteers/donators will see it. You can find the Pinterest Widget Builder here. Using this page, you can also embed an entire board into your blog!

Make sure to include a Pinterest button within your:

  • Email signature
  • Email newsletter
  • Website
  • Signage at events and in the office

There are so many ways to effectively use this fantastic tool. A great way to start is to see how other nonprofits are using Pinterest. At the end of the day, why wouldn’t you want to use a tool that will help build relationships and drive traffic to your website? So get out there, follow some great new pinners, and get your feet wet.

Happy pinning!

If you have questions about Pinterest, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.