5 Influencer Marketing Mistakes Every Nonprofit Should Avoid

5 min
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Contributing Author

Did you know that 68% of social media users decided to donate to a nonprofit after engaging with a cause on social media? Today, leveraging different social media channels to market your fundraising campaigns is crucial. 

However, there’s an increasing demand in the world for authenticity and transparency as people look for peer recommendations over offers from advertisements. Thus, as nonprofits establish social media marketing plans, they’re exploring the potential of influencer marketing as well. 

Free Resource: Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

Why Should Nonprofits Use Influencer Marketing?

Influencers are individuals who have gained a huge following on social channels due to their niche expertise, audience engagement, quality of content, and relatability factor. In other words, they’re prominent figures who have retained a relevant, authentic voice.

Recent data shows that 79% of consumers buy products from a business that operates with a social purpose, not unlike nonprofits. Since 78% of marketers collaborate with influencers to build brand awareness, it makes sense that nonprofits can leverage the same strategy to help people decide to make a donation rather than buy a product. 

Influencer marketing can help nonprofits drive awareness and action, but in order to maximize the benefits of this strategy for your nonprofit, you should be aware of a few potential mishaps that can hinder your success.

To help your organization get started, we rounded up some common influencer marketing mistakes to avoid as you build out your strategy. 

5 Influencer Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not Choosing an Appropriate Advocate for Your Organization

An influencer who genuinely loves your work will be more effective in spreading the message about your organization’s mission across various platforms. In fact, 73% of influencers exert more effort in promoting and creating quality content if they’re passionate about what the organization represents.

Do your research and engage influencers who might have a personal interest in supporting your cause. For example, if your nonprofit focuses on environmental advocacy and your recent campaign is focused on ‘green beauty’, it would be ideal to narrow down your prospects and collaborate with a beauty influencer who regularly promotes a clean lifestyle and gives reviews on cruelty-free, all-natural products.

Start by monitoring their online habits, content style, and engagement activities. Then, start your engagement efforts with potential influencers by regularly liking or commenting on their social posts or blog. 

You also must reach them on a personal level with something like email or a direct message on their most active social channel. When writing your outreach, be direct with your ask like you would on a donation appeal and ask to collaborate. To make it sound less transactional, state that you’re open for a brainstorming session and you really appreciate the work they’ve done to advance the cause they’re passionate about.

2. Not Checking the Influencer’s Audience and Engagement Rate

A massive follower count doesn’t always translate to excellent reach and engagement, which are both important factors if you want to attract more people to your cause. In order to create more buzz about your nonprofit, remember to focus on the following two metrics:

  • Organic reach: The number of online users who have seen content without searching for it
  • Engagement: Audience interaction such as comments, likes, shares, reactions, and website clicks 

To achieve the desired level of reach and engagement for your nonprofit, work with influencers who are good at driving interaction and keeping their followers informed. And remember, bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Micro-influencers, for instance, have fewer than 100,000 followers, but their audiences are highly engaged. To help identify engagement, examine the comment section on an influencer’s posts. You’re looking for genuine responses being made to followers. 

Comments like this establish the influencer as relatable and trustworthy. Your nonprofit can benefit from this as influencers promote your cause to individuals or groups who trust and value their opinion. This could ultimately translate into direct action for your cause, like making a donation or signing up as a volunteer.

However, with many fraudulent accounts populating the widely used influencer platforms like Instagram, you should make it a point to scan the authenticity of the influencer before reaching out to make sure influencers aren’t purchasing fake followers or engagement. Do your due diligence, and consider using third-party tools to ensure your partner isn’t faking it. 

Download: 9 Email Templates to Engage Donors Year-Round

3. Not Setting Clear Expectations

One of the most common mistakes nonprofits make when running an influencer campaign is failing to communicate their end goals and needs to the influencer: be precise and specific about the task. You should also be very transparent with your nonprofit’s values, mission, and plans.

For example, let’s say you want an influencer to post about your fundraising campaign every day on Instagram in hopes of encouraging more people to donate. You should provide specific instructions to the influencer, like what hashtags to use, important information about your campaign, and a call-to-action where the audience can donate or participate, like a link to your campaign’s landing page.

Then, listen to what the influencer expects of you in return. Are you offering them any kind of special incentive, like a feature in your nonprofit’s blog or tickets to an upcoming event? 

You need to have this all outlined clearly in writing before agreeing to partner, which will ensure your work together is beneficial for everyone. Don’t be afraid to negotiate terms with your potential partner, and don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal if it’s not in your best interest. 

Keeping everything transparent from the get-go can also help you both avoid mishaps and miscommunication. And it helps you focus on what’s truly important about this partnership: relaying your key messages to the public. 

4. Not Getting Creative with the Influencer

As a marketer or owner of a nonprofit, you’re responsible for providing the promotional materials and necessary guidance to the influencer to stay true to the organization’s core values and brand. However, to come up with a creative campaign, the influencer’s distinct style and tone should be present in the content, as they know exactly what their audience wants and how to keep them engaged.

Take the Make-a-Wish’ “Wish-for-24” campaign, for instance. This nonprofit partnered with Yarasky, a Dutch gaming influencer, to launch a campaign called “Wish-for-24”. The nonprofit organizer collaborated with the gaming YouTube vlogger for a 24-hour live stream, which was seen by millions of people and helped them raise more than 10,000 euros. 

5. Not Monitoring the Progress of Your Campaign

Nonprofits can measure the effectiveness of their influencer marketing campaign by tracking engagement and reach on social media and other platforms but can forget to measure the success of the influencer campaign on its own. Keeping tabs on the performance of your influencer campaign will help you gain insights and provide answers to several campaign questions. 

Is your nonprofit’s website or landing page generating more traffic after running the campaign? What is the total number of people you’ve reached and how many of them engage with the content you posted online?

The number of clicks, likes, reactions, shares, mentions, and comments can be used as metrics to track engagement activities. Put the total number of each of these metrics in a spreadsheet to make it easier to track and calculate the engagement activities, so you’ll know the donation metrics.

Here’s a quick list of the metrics to follow, and what each one means:

  • Impressions: This is the number of times your content has been viewed by online users.
  • Profile clicks: This indicates the number of visits on your nonprofit’s social media page or profile.
  • Follower growth: This is the number of new followers you’ve gained after launching the influencer campaign.
  • Web traffic: This includes the number of website views and the amount of time visitors spend on your page or site.
  • Engagement: The number of likes, shares, reactions, comments, video views, and mentions are some of the metrics used when tracking the engagement rate of your campaign.

Collect these numbers and put them in a dashboard. You should also create tracking parameters or source codes on all of your links to know precisely where traffic spikes on your site are coming from. You can do that with tools such as Tracckr or klear, among many others.

Finally, Google Analytics is where you can get a robust view of how all these stats come together. This is how you determine if your partnership was a true success, or if it’s someone you shouldn’t be working with again.

Final Thoughts

Using influencer marketing as a strategy is an efficient way to help your nonprofit raise funds and attract more volunteers. Although there are a great number of challenges that come with it, with proper implementation, your nonprofit will be well on its way to gaining the exposure it needs.


This is a guest post written by Kristina Laova. Kristina is a tech blogger and contributor at Techjury.net and SmallBizGenius.net. When she’s not writing at her desk, she’s devoted to ESL teaching and doing certified court translation. She’s a vivid writer, keen traveler, and an adventurous soul as curious as humanity. The world is her oyster.


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