Social media is the secret to success for nonprofits. It’s one of the easiest ways to build brand awareness, promote your purpose, and meet campaigning or fundraising goals. Gone are the days when Twitter and Instagram called the shots. TikTok now reigns supreme. The video-sharing platform saw accelerated growth during the early months of the pandemic and is still going strong.
If you want to get your non-profit out in front of Gen Z and Millennials, you need to be on TikTok. The platform had over 1.2 billion monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2021. This figure is expected to jump to 1.5 billion by the end of the year.
Not every non-profit is confident with using TikTok. The video-sharing platform is driven by trending sounds, its younger influencers, and current affairs. Unlike Twitter or Instagram, it’s not about crafting hard-hitting captions or sleek graphics.
The rise of TikTok is opening a space for non-profits to speak directly to younger and affluent demographics. With over 60% of Gen Z and Millennials donating online, TikTok could be the key to smashing your fundraising goal in 2022.
Our article breaks down everything you need to know about using TikTok as a non-profit and how organizations are already using the platform to raise awareness.
• What is TikTok?
TikTok is the world’s fastest-growing social media platform. While it was originally launched to fill the space left by the video-sharing platform Vine, it’s far surpassed any reach its predecessor had.
TikTok was launched in September 2016 in China as ‘Douyin’ before being launched as ‘ByteDance’ in 2017 outside China. ByteDance went on to purchase the platform ‘Musical.ly’ before remarketing itself as ‘Tiktok’. The platform serves to allow users to create content directly from their smartphones.
As a social media platform, TikTok is competing against the likes of Instagram and YouTube – but without the support of a tech giant like Google. What has made TikTok so popular is its easily consumable content and how anyone can become a content creator from their smartphone.
• How can TikTok help non-profits?
Research conducted by ‘TikTok for Business’ showcases the potential of TikTok for non-profits. 84% of the platform’s users have said they use it to discover and learn new things. As a platform that puts entertainment and education at its heart, it’s the future of digital marketing for non-profits.
While most stats about TikTok focus on its commercial selling power, these can also be applied to fundraising and non-profit brand awareness. Social media users are 1.4x more likely to use TikTok than any other platform to research brands and 1.5x more likely to immediately purchase something they’ve discovered on TikTok. If these stats convert in a similar number for fundraising, it could make TikTok one of the biggest untapped tools for non-profits today.
TikTok utilizes its popular ‘For You Page’ algorithm. Your content will be fed out to users who are likely to have an interest in your non-profit. Whether they’re in your local area or have liked similar content, the TikTok algorithm will work on your behalf to get your content in front of the right people.
• How to use TikTok as a non-profit
Launching your non-profit with an explainer video can introduce your work to your audience. TikTok gives you the ability to curate your profile by pinning up to three videos that sit on the first row of content. You can pin your explainer video and any content relevant to current campaigns for new viewers to see.
You want to be creating content that is highly shareable and works with TikTok’s algorithm. While 44% of TikTok users want brand content that is fun and entertaining, there’s a large niche within TikTok that revolves around current affairs and education. Your non-profit needs to find a balance between education and entertainment within its content.
The United States remains the leading market for TikTok but it has an international presence that both regional and international nonprofits can leverage. So, how can you start using TikTok to build a presence within these markets? Here are a few ideas below that you want to be incorporating into your TikTok strategy.
• Collaborating with micro and macro-influencers
It’s easy for nonprofits to collaborate directly with TikTok’s influencers. In 2020 at the start of the pandemic, TikTok launched their ‘Donation Stickers’ These in-app donations can be facilitated through live streams and videos. With TikTok focusing on how it can partner with charities and non-profits, we can expect more organizations to be able to utilize donation stickers in the months to come.
Non-profits like ‘Meals on Wheels’, ‘MusiCares’, and ‘No Kid Hungry’ were amongst the first organizations given access to TikTok’s in-app donation features. By July 2020, British Red Cross had already raised over £90,000 through TikTok within weeks of utilizing the donation sticker.
Establishing your TikTok presence now can give you an engaged community to call on when you’re able to benefit from donation stickers. It can become a passive way of fundraising by incorporating it into all your content or partnering with influencers to incorporate your donation stickers into their content.
You also want to collaborate with influencers as TikTok allows them to promote fundraising campaigns directly on their profiles. This feature is similar to Instagram’s in-app donations and allows the influencer to set a goal for their campaign.
• Informational videos
Some of the most popular content on TikTok is direct-to-camera. Videos that perform best are ones where the speaker is talking directly to the camera. It often feels like you’re on Facetime with another person. This experience is what you want to capture in your informational videos.
You can introduce your nonprofit’s leadership team, show them the work you do, and talk them through the purpose of your non-profit. TikTok is all about bringing transparency to your work and pushing back the curtain. You can also use TikTok videos to show the work you’re able to do through your fundraising.
• Creating hashtag challenges
It’s easy to think that TikTok is all about video content. Hashtags are just as important on TikTok as they are on Instagram or Twitter. The platform has its “TikTok for Good” initiative where they’ve partnered with non-profits to create hashtag challenges.
One of TikTok’s previous hashtag challenges includes #PetBff, where the platform worked with animal welfare nonprofits and shelters for International Homeless Animals’ Day. The platform donated $1 for every video posted up to $175,000. While not every hashtag challenge will be picked up by this initiative, it’s a great way to get momentum behind your campaigns.
You want your hashtag challenge to make it easy for audience participation. Keep it catchy and clear with its purpose. You can drive your TikTok hashtag challenge through other platforms, such as newsletters and other social media platforms.
• Create highly shareable content
One of the benefits of using TikTok for your nonprofit is how easy it is to share content across multiple platforms. The share button sits at the bottom of the screen, allowing users to share your content directly to their social media platforms.
Users can post your content directly to their Instagram feed and stories, along with sharing it on Snapchat and WhatsApp. Creating highly shareable content can help to expand your nonprofit's reach beyond TikTok.
• How nonprofits are using TikTok to raise their profiles
While most non-profits are already still using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, many have already built a presence on TikTok. It’s the perfect time to migrate to the platform. TikTok is experiencing steady growth and both brands and nonprofits are trying to break into the platform.
There are dozens of success stories for non-profits that have built their online presence through TikTok. Here are a few of the most successful nonprofits on TikTok:
1 Aquarium of the Pacific
Aquarium of the Pacific is a nonprofit in Long Beach, California. They share content about their animals with their 2.6 million followers. Their profile is the perfect example of a nonprofit creating both entertaining and educational content, as well as showing behind-the-scenes content from their aquarium.
2 World Economic Forum
Your nonprofit doesn’t have to focus on cute animals to get a following on TikTok. Organizations like the World Economic Forum are building their profile amongst younger demographics by using the platform. The World Economic Forum has over 1.7 million followers with whom they share their educational content.
Their content changes from video to video with topics ranging from NFTs to raising rental pricing and COVID-19. It’s a sign that nonprofits with a goal of education and empowerment can find an engaged community on the platform.
3 American Red Cross
It’s not just new and up-and-coming nonprofits utilizing TikTok. The American Red Cross is fast approaching 800k followers on their platform. Their content primarily revolves around educating its audience about issues like avoiding hypothermia, what to do during a winter storm, and what to do in the event of a fire. The American Red Cross is also utilizing TikTok to encourage users to volunteer for their organization.
4 American Heart Association
TikTok is famous for its dance videos. This content is something that many nonprofits have successfully tapped into. American Heart Association created a ‘Keep the Beat Challenge’ in 2020 to raise awareness for American Heart Month. Their content now focuses on a mix of educational and entertaining content, while incorporating the donation sticker into their videos.
Recent campaigns that the American Heart Association has run on TikTok include their ‘Wear Red Day’. They’ve also used TikTok to give a unique look into their work, including sharing videos around childhood cancer to highlight the story of ordinary people who have been helped by their work.
5 Citizens Advice
Another non-profit that utilizes TikTok to educate is Citizens Advice. Their recent content includes their campaign for tackling the rising costs of living and housing disrepair in the rental sector. Their content shows how non-profits can incorporate popular trends into their videos without losing the educational message.
Citizens Advice has been using its TikTok platform to reach out to the 16-25 demographic. The non-profit recently released a blog post where they talk about their ‘TikTok action group’ and how their content is created by various members of their team and not an individual social media manager. It’s an insight into how one of the UK’s most recognizable nonprofits has been using TikTok to build an audience.
Citizens Advice shared in the blogpost that their goal was “to raise awareness and familiarity amongst younger generations” through the platform. With almost 80k followers on TikTok and 243,000+ likes, we think they’ve smashed that goal.
These five non-profits show that there’s no rule book when it comes to TikTok content. If it’s engaging and either educational or entertaining, you can get creative with your TikTok videos. You want it all to relate to your nonprofit's mission, but TikTok is one platform that allows you to think outside the box.
• Using TikTok to raise brand awareness for your non-profit
TikTok is one of the best ways for you to build a relationship with potential campaigns and fundraisers. With Gen Z and Millennials being amongst the most giving demographics, TikTok’s audience is engaged with non-profits and willing to donate a large portion of their disposable income.
Whatever industry your nonprofit operates in, you can use TikTok to promote your work. You want to keep the content engaging and informational while jumping on some of TikTok’s latest trending sounds and video types.
If you want to build a presence amongst younger demographics and boost your fundraising, TikTok is the social media platform you need to be utilizing. Hundreds of nonprofits are already growing communities and it’s clear TikTok is investing in supporting nonprofits on their platform with incentives like donation stickers.
Getting started on TikTok is easier than you think. Start with an explainer video on your nonprofit and go from there. Whether it’s dance videos or behind-the-scenes content, TikTok could be the key to taking your non-profit to the next level.