October 26, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 10 min.

How Non-Profits Can Collaborate with Influencers to Expand Their Reach

In recent years, the nonprofit influencer marketing industry has absolutely exploded. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have allowed regular people to build massive, devoted followings around their content and personalities. Top influencers have millions of engaged fans who look to them for inspiration, education, and entertainment daily.

For brands, partnering with popular influencers provides a powerful way to reach new demographics and drive awareness. 

But influencer marketing isn’t just for selling products. 

More and more, non-profit organizations are exploring collaborations with influencers to expand their donor base and further their causes.

This creates a win-win scenario. Influencers gain a meaningful way to use their platform for good, and non-profits gain access to new influencer communities. 

Together, they multiply impact.

In fact, influencer marketing has proven its effectiveness in recent years. According to HubSpot, 89% of marketers who use influencer marketing will increase or maintain their investment going forward.


While non-profit/influencer collaborations are often mission-driven at their core, they can utilize many typical influencer marketing tactics. 

Sponsored posts, fundraising campaigns, cross-promotions, contests, events, and more all allow your collaboration to make a significant impact.

As non-profit organizations look to expand their donor bases and serve more people, influencer partnerships represent a promising but underutilized channel. Aligning with values-driven influencers provides access to whole communities primed for socially conscious messaging. It’s a win-win scenario, benefiting all.


Understanding Influencer Marketing

The influencer marketing sector encompasses diverse types of online personalities who have built engaged followings around their content and brands. While classifications differ, there are a few main influencer categories to understand:

  • Nano-influencers have extremely engaged audiences under 10,000 followers. Their highly intimate connection earns community trust. For hyperlocal causes, a nano-influencer can activate their small but dedicated base.


  • Micro-influencers have smaller but highly targeted audiences, from 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Their connection with a niche makes them appealing for specialized collaborations. For example, a micro-influencer focused on sustainable food could work well for an environmental non-profit.


  • Macro-influencers have larger followings, typically 100,000 to 1 million fans. They offer greater overall reach but may not have the precise targeting of smaller influencers. Lifestyle and fashion macro-influencers often partner with major brands.


  • Finally, mega-influencers sit at the top with over 1 million followers. They function like online celebrities with expansive – but more loosely connected – audiences. Non-profits approach mega-influencers to maximize campaign visibility.


While mega-influencers boast incredible popularity, many consumers now prefer following “someone like me” over distant A-list celebrities. 

This has enabled micro and nano-influencers to flourish, with their authenticity more valued than sheer reach.

Non-profits that are evaluating collaborations must consider an influencer’s audience and engagement style. A thoughtful matching of mission and community builds a mutually beneficial partnership.

Some non-profits make the mistake of reflexively chasing mega-influencers for vanity metrics. However, a smaller influencer sincerely passionate about the cause often elicits a greater response and lasting impact. Follower connection, not just follower count, makes collaborations meaningful.


Identifying the Right Nonprofit Influencers

The key to successful non-profit/influencer collaborations is aligning with online personalities who genuinely connect with the organization’s mission and values. It should be a natural fit.

For example, an environmental non-profit can identify eco-focused influencers advocating sustainability. An organization serving underprivileged youth could reach out to influencers overcoming difficult upbringings. 

When the partnership aligns with an influencer’s interests, the content resonates far more with their followers.

Conduct research to understand potential influencers before contacting them. Review their public personas and the causes they support. Analyze audience demographics using available tools. Look for indicators like:

  • High engagement rates on sponsored and non-sponsored posts


  • Large percentages of followers commenting and sharing content


  • Followers using affiliated hashtags and language


  • Loyal followers who regularly engage with the influencer


These show an authentic connection between the influencer and their community. Prioritize the depth of the relationship over the number of fans. 100,000 highly engaged followers often outweigh 1 million passive followers.

Evaluate an influencer’s past brand collaborations as well. Have they worked with similar non-profits before? Do they have experience supporting social impact campaigns? This demonstrates a strong interest in the space.

Conversely, be cautious about influencers over-saturated with promotions or those churning through numerous sponsored posts. This dilutes their connection with followers. Look for influencers who are selective about the brands they work with.

Do not simply go after the largest influencers in hopes of maximizing vanity metrics. Follower count means little without affinity for the cause. Taking the time to identify ideal influencer partners with shared values leads to collaborations with greater meaning and longevity.


Approaching and Pitching to Nonprofit Influencers

Once a non-profit has identified well-matched influencers, the next step is reaching out to pitch a collaboration. 

Make sure to avoid basic mass emails. Instead, personalize pitches to show you understand the influencer’s brand, interests, and audience.

Emphasize the shared mission and highlight the potential for mutual benefit. Provide ideas for content formats and campaigns tailored to their niche. Offer to co-create concepts to allow creative input.

Discuss metrics of success upfront aligned to both parties’ goals, like reach, engagement, conversions, or impact. Consider offering nonprofit pricing if budgets are tight. Focus on establishing an ongoing relationship, not a one-off transaction.

Avoid treating influencers generically like human billboards. Respect how they have nourished meaningful connections with followers. Collaborate to ensure sponsored content feels authentic and brings value to their community.

Prepare measurement plans capturing your influencer campaign impact beyond vanity metrics like impressions. For example, tracking:

  • Website traffic to learn more after influencer campaigns


  • New follower growth and engagement for the non-profit


  • Increases in volunteer sign-ups or donor contributions


  • Social listening data showing positive sentiment


This quantifies ROI beyond basic analytics. Ensure the partnership accomplishments benefit the influencer’s personal brand too.

With many non-profits new to influencer marketing, educating on objectives and value is key. Provide examples of similar collaborations that successfully raised awareness and funding for causes.

Highlight opportunities for the influencer to grow their authority as a purpose-driven thought leader. The most fulfilling partnerships view compensation as a bonus, not the core motivation.

By emphasizing shared goals and impact, non-profits can excite influencers about blending advocacy with their personal brands. This leads to collaborations that resonate authentically with their engaged communities.


Nonprofit Influencer Campaign Ideas

Once an influencer partnership is established, many options exist for collaborative influencer campaign concepts that provide value to both parties. Non-profits should brainstorm ideas that allow influencers to creatively convey messages in their unique voice. Potential concepts include:


Sponsored Posts, Stories, and Reels

Influencers can create dedicated feed posts, ephemeral stories, or short-form reels highlighting the nonprofit’s mission, campaigns, events, and more. These raise visibility among the influencer’s followers. Ensure sponsored content feels organic.



Allow influencers to “take over” the nonprofit’s Instagram or TikTok account for a day. They share their experience volunteering, insights on the cause, and drive engagement from their own followers. It provides influencers with fresh content while expanding the nonprofit’s audience.


Live Q&A Sessions

Influencers host live streams or webinars with nonprofit leaders or staff. Followers can get candid answers to questions about the organization and its mission. These personalized sessions cultivate deeper connections.


Behind-the-Scenes Content

Influencers produce vlogs, reels, photos, or stories giving their followers an inside look at the nonprofit’s daily operations, facilities, events, and programs. This builds a greater understanding of how the organization makes an impact.


Fundraising Campaigns

Influencers can promote nonprofit fundraising initiatives like crowdfunding campaigns, donation drives, or volunteer recruitment to their loyal followers. This will expand your donor and volunteer base exponentially.

By collaborating on original concepts that resonate with target audiences, nonprofits, and influencers can increase awareness while creating content their communities find entertaining and meaningful. The key is co-designing initiatives that enable the influencer to authentically communicate mission-driven messages.

Need help finding the right influencer targets for your non-profit or strategizing on a unique influencer marketing campaign? Contact our team of experts today!


Compensation and Ethical Considerations

When partnering with influencers, non-profits must navigate complex decisions around fair compensation. Expecting nonprofit influencers to donate time pro bono is often unrealistic, given this is their livelihood. But non-profits operate on thin budgets.

So, bear in mind some of the best practices around compensation for non-profit influencer marketing:


  • Discuss requirements upfront. Be transparent about budget limitations or in-kind support abilities.


  • Consider sliding scales or nonprofit-specific rates based on follower count and content formats.


  • Get creative. Can the nonprofit offer unique experiences, access, or other non-cash perks?


  • Frame agreements around “suggested donations” where able. Allow influencers to voluntarily contribute their fee.


  • Establish ongoing partnerships. The first initiative may require payment, but future collaborations could be pro bono.


  • Ensure overhead costs are covered when asking for pro bono support. Reimburse expenses.


Ultimately, balance fair compensation with your budget realities. Value the influencer’s time and audience reach. But don’t overextend finances on one influencer campaign.

Equally important is maintaining full transparency with the influencer’s audience. Ensure sponsored content is clearly labeled according to FTC guidelines. Authentically integrate cause information versus awkwardly inserting talking points.

Consider having influencers disclose if they are receiving reduced nonprofit rates or donating compensation. Followers appreciate transparency about paid partnerships.

By proactively discussing compensation requirements, creating mutually beneficial collaborations, and adhering to ethics guidelines, non-profits and influencers can productively work together. Focus on impact first, with financials secondary.


Measuring the Success of Influencer Partnerships

To assess the success of influencer collaborations, non-profits must track performance beyond vanity metrics like views or impressions. Analyze data to understand the tangible impact on priority KPIs:


Website Traffic

Monitor traffic driven to the non-profit’s site from influencer posts. This reveals their ability to drive interest and inspire action among new audiences. Traffic should increase during and after influencer campaigns.


Follower Growth

Follower growth for the nonprofit’s own social channels indicates the influencer’s ability to build awareness. Look for sustained bumps, not just temporary inflation.


Engagement Rates

Assess comment sentiment, shares, click-through rates, and other engagement metrics on sponsored posts. High-quality influencers drive strong resonance and response rates.



Tie influencer campaigns to specific donation pages and track resulting gifts. Even small amounts indicate messaging effectiveness in inspiring philanthropy.


Volunteer Sign-Ups

Monitor lead generation for volunteer opportunities or event participation. This quantifies the influencer’s ability to activate their community.


Social Listening

  • Use tools like Sprout Social to monitor mentions and conversations about your influencer campaigns. Positive sentiment shows content resonated.


  • Regularly discuss results with the influencer and continuously refine strategies to better engage their followers. Take learnings into account when exploring future collaborations and budgets.


  • While influencer partnerships require relinquishing some control over messaging, they provide nonprofit organizations access to whole new communities ready to be activated around shared values. Approach collaborations strategically with defined goals, and assess progress against KPIs to maximize impact.



In summary, collaborating with influencers represents an immense opportunity for nonprofits to expand reach and drive impact – but only if done thoughtfully. These partnerships require more strategic consideration than simply hiring the influencer with the most followers.


1. The key is identifying influencers with deeply engaged communities who will authentically resonate with the cause. Their passion should align with the mission. Whether a mega-influencer or micro-influencer, the affinity for the nonprofit’s work sparks a real connection with followers.

2. Do your research to understand potential partners’ brand personas and advocacy history. Craft win-win proposals leading with impact goals and values alignment. Don’t think of influencers only as marketing tools, but as collaborators for good.

3. Get creative with influencer campaign concepts that allow influencers to flex their skills while spreading nonprofit messages. Sponsored posts, behind-the-scenes stories, Q&As, and takeovers make supporters feel invested in the mission.

4. Measure what matters – not vanity metrics, but donations, site traffic, volunteer sign-ups, and conversation sentiment. Refine approaches based on performance. Rinse and repeat the formula with new partners to expand reach across diverse communities.


While compensation must be fair for the influencer’s time and audience value, the most rewarding partnerships view financials as secondary to real-world change. With authenticity and commitment, an incredible impact can be made.

Influencer marketing does not have to be solely a tool for selling products. By embracing these strategies, nonprofits can forge new digital relationships with influencer collaborators and their networks. This unique awareness channel is ready to be activated for good.

The world of marketing is steadily shifting away from interrupting people to focusing on creating value and building communities. Influencers hold immense power to rally their followers around causes to enact positive change. Nonprofits can help lead this evolution.

So be selective, be strategic, be creative, and be mission-driven as you explore influencer collaborations. By embracing these mindsets, your organization can expand its reach exponentially and further its purpose dramatically. Let’s do this!

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