Pinterest is the new darling of the social media world. In August, the fledgling social network had just surpassed the 1 million user mark. By the end of 2011, Pinterest packed on nearly three times as many users and is now well over the 5 million mark. What is Pinterest? Most simply put, it’s a social bookmarking website that allows users to easily save their favorite products, pictures and other online media in easily organized “Boards.”

Do you like that handbag you see on Amazon? Put a “Pin” in it and add it to your “Fashion” Board. Would that curio look good in your dining room? Pin it and add it to your “Home Decorating” Board for future reference. Do you often come across gift ideas for Mom, but then forget in the months leading up to her birthday? Make a “Presents for Mom” Board and Pin a bunch of gift ideas there throughout the course of the year.

As you can imagine, the potential for online retailers in Pinterest is enormous, but what about the nonprofit world? There are ample opportunities for NGOs on Pinterest, as well. The following are three tips your nonprofit organization might consider if you’d like to be an early adopter on this rapidly-growing social network…

  • Boards with gift options: The Food Bank for New York City is enjoying a tremendous amount of success after revamping its online food bank (more on that in this Chronicle of Philanthropy Article). One main reason why? The NY Food Bank made its online food bank feel more like online shopping, making certain products available for purchase (click here for an example). World Vision offers another fine example of turning small gifts into products online. In both cases, the organizations could have Pinterest Boards that list these products. Supporters with Pinterest accounts could add Pins to those “products” and save them for giving at a later date or recommending to their friends and followers.
  • Create Boards that show pictures of the impact the org makes: Pinterest is a social network. Which means it’s not just about blatantly asking for money …it’s about sharing content that matters to your followers and supporters. Create a Board that shows the impact your organization makes in the world through photos. Another Board could recognize your biggest donors. Also, be sure to find and follow your supporters and “like” and “mention” their Pinterest activity, much in the same way you’d manage a well-run Twitter account.
  • Create Boards that show what your staff is into: Again, Pinterest is a social site. Share the personality of your organization by allowing your staff, board members or volunteers to create Boards around their interests.

Have you seen any examples of nonprofit orgs with well-run Pinterest accounts? If so, let us know! And as always, check out BWF.com for more info on social media and philanthropy.

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