If you’re a nonprofit looking to grow and reach its own audience, TikTok might be the right place for you. TikTok is more than viral dances. This is a playground for nonprofits to grow their community and share your mission broadly. With a variety of content genres (like entertainment, education, and short stories, you can leverage TikTok too.
Your TikTok nonprofit content can go viral even if you don’t have a large number of followers. TikTok’s algorithm allows users to check our new content on their “for your page” (FYP) feed, allowing anyone to reach a wider audience even with a starting account. We even pushed a video for the first time and received 6K views with 0 followings.
If you’re interested in learning how your nonprofit can get on TikTok, we got you.
At Slam Media Lab, we help mission-driven organizations take their content marketing (Instagram, TikTok) to the next level. We’ve helped high-impact nonprofits grow their TikToks to hundreds of millions of views.
Needless to say, we get what it's like to be doing the work as a nonprofit, and we believe these orgs should have the same tools as big companies do to widen their audience and make an impact.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- The basics of TikTok
- Why you need to invest in TikTok as a nonprofit
- TikTok nonprofit strategies
- Free resources for your nonprofit strategy
- Nonprofit content examples
- Ideas to get started
- Best practices
Nonprofit on TikTok 101
The simplest description of TikTok is a platform for bite-sized video content.
After creating an account and selecting a few topics that interest you, you'll immediately be routed to an endless feed of videos to scroll through. This is the “For You Page,” or FYP for short.
The FYP delivers videos that are predicted by every interaction a user has with preceding suggestions—from whether they hit “like” to how long they spent in the comment section.
And these videos can come from anywhere—creators with a 10-person following to a 10-million person following. That means that the majority of content people engage with comes from strangers, which differentiates the app from the Facebook and Instagram models.
Quick tips to navigate the app
- To see content from people you know or deliberately follow, hit the “Following” button on the top left of the home page.
- To see more videos from a trend that caught your eye, click the ticker that displays the audio name at the bottom of any video.
- To share or remix someone’s video, click the arrow below the like button and comment sections.
TikTok v. Reels
But why TikTok and not just Instagram Reels?
As Instagram continues to prioritize Reels, that is also a great space to invest time as a nonprofit. But it’s not the cutting edge. TikTok is.
The flow of an average video creator’s content begins on TikTok and then moves to Instagram Reels as a repost. This means that TikTok is the engine for new, to-the-minute content.
In fact, the Instagram Reels delay in content became something of a running joke for TikTok users, eventually morphing into its own trend poking fun at Reels users.
You get the idea. TikTok is the place to be if a top goal of your nonprofit is keeping up with young people.
TikTok for Good (Nonprofits)
TikTok has a program called TikTok for Good. They specifically help organization activate their users to support important causes and issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine war, and educational content to help people make good decisions.
Their benefits include:
- Account Management: TikTok will help you tap into the potential of talented TikTok creators
- Advanced Analytics: Comprehensive data on how your content is doing!
- Promoted Hashtags: increase awareness with a promoted hashtag by TikTok.
Additionally, TikTok has many powerful marketing tools including:
- Hashtag challenges
- Branded filters
- Trend-based content
Why is TikTok making such a big dent in nonprofit marketing?
When you think of TikTok, teenagers doing dances might be the first thing that pops into your head. This was true in the early days of TikTok. Young people were joining the platform and joining trends, becoming Gen Z’s favorite app. But with time, different uses cases were created.
TikTok Overview Stats
TikTok officially reached 1 billion monthly active users in 2021, with an audience largely composed of teens and young adults. The age breakdown of US-based users is:
- 10-19 year olds: 32.5%
- 20-29 year olds: 29.5%
- 30-39 year olds: 16.4%
- 40-49 year olds: 13.9%
- 50+ year olds: 7.1%
The hold TikTok (and Instagram) have on this demographic is strong. Google executive Prabhakar Raghavan said in July 2022 that the company surveyed 18-24 year olds and learned that 40% of this group would look for a new restaurant to try on Instagram or TikTok, not Google.
On top of that, as TikTok ages so do its users. That means there’s a big opportunity.
So how can your organization make the most of it?
TikTok content must be straightforward, memorable and shareable. Funny videos are among the most popular, but so are how-to’s and educational videos. People love learning through quick, didactic videos that explain complex things in simple way.
You don’t need fancy and expensive advertisement campaigns to get your brand out there. You need engaging content that is:
- Talks to your community directly
Benefits of Using TikTok as a Nonprofit
Many big nonprofits are already reaching their audiences using TikTok s there making a difference and utilizing TikTok’s marketing tools including:
These nonprofits are using TikTok to:
- Raise awareness of your mission and work
- Educate users about issues and solutions
- Help get donations
- Grow their community
- Promote their causes
What Your Nonprofit Should Do Right Now for TikTok Marketing
TikTok marketing can feel like uncharted territory for nonprofits. It’s one thing to market to potential supporters on mainstream social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But TikTok’s niche audience, creative format, and constant algorithm changes present some unique challenges. The key is to understand how the platform works and to experiment with different content formats and strategies.
Taking your first steps on any app can be a bit overwhelming. You’re not yet familiar with the interface and functionalities. It takes some time to get acquainted with a new app, but on TikTok you’ll get past this phase in no time.
Nothing beats spending time using the platform to get a feel for its rhythm. Here are the steps to follow:
- Create a nonprofit account on TikTok
- Set your north star
- Landscape analysis
- Setting the look and feel
- Plan your content
Step #1: Create an account
- Download the TikTok app (Google | Apple). It works better on the phone v. the web version
- Choose a username for your nonprofit
- Add a profile picture or video (photos must be at least 20x20)
- Link to other social media accounts! You can add your nonprofit Instagram and YouTube
- Spend some time exploring the app and familiarizing yourself with the interface!
Step #2: Set your north star
Before you start creating content, it’s important to have a content strategy and a north star. To start ask yourself, what do you want the content and account to be known as?
“This TikTok account is all about _______.”
Not sure what to add?? Check out what other nonprofits are doing on TikTok. What are they known for? See what types of videos are getting the most views and engagement.
In the past, we’ve filled out this line with “student photography,” “people slamming marketing.”
Step #3: Landscape analysis
Make sure to study your competition. Think of accounts you could take inspiration from and come up with ideas to stand out from the rest. You can either think of creator accounts in your industry (i.e. a creator in sex education) or other nonprofit accounts (i.e. a sex education nonprofit like Peer Health Exchange)
Consider the following aspects:
- The topics they share
- The format they use (i.e. Dances, Storytelling, Trend-based)
- The demographics they target
- Their content’s performance (likes, comments, and followers)
Once you’ve done some research, use what you’re community is saying and wants in your analysis.
Step #4: Setting the tone and feel
Once you have clarity on your nonprofit’s direction, and what your competitors are doing, it’s time to decide how you want your nonprofit to present itself. What impression do you want to cause on your audience through your content?
Write down qualities you’d like your audience to use to describe your nonprofit. For example, say you wanna aim at Gen Z users. You could include words such as:
- Relatable and sympathetic
- Transparent, trustworthy, but not a tryhard
- Funny, but not cringey
- Honest, approachable
Now it’s your turn to try. It’s easier than it looks!
Step #5: Plan your content
Next is starting to write down the content. Write down all the topics your nonprofit focuses on, and then start your TikTok editorial process.
No matter where you choose to work through each TikTok, you can follow our favorite process to get quick results when scripting:
- Brainstorm independently
- Refine ideas in writers’ room
- Script in writers’ room
- Send content for approval
Resources for your nonprofit TikTok strategy
We’re offering two free resources that we’ve built for nonprofits:
- TikTok content planner on Notion and on Airtable
- Deck template to plan our your nonprofit content strategy
If you’d like to get them for free, make sure to sign up here.
Recording your nonprofit TikToks
People can tell right away when they see an appealing video. This means using high-quality visuals and ensuring your videos are well-lit.
Your audio should be catchy and interesting. Pro tip: using popular songs or sounds will go a long way capturing people's attention.
When it comes time to record, here are a few rules of thumb that will make your videos more viewer-friendly:
- Inject personality: be expressive
- Be authentic: talk as if you were catching up with a friend, not reading a script
- Showing over telling: get creative with props and costumes
Hashtags can be a great way to promote your content to people who follow the topic/hashtag. Hashtags also help with discoverability, but it’s important to not overuse them.
When it comes to finding great hashtags, the “Discover” section is your best ally. There you can find all sorts of videos using the hashtags that are trending. You can either scroll through this page to see what people are talking about, or explore those hashtags that you think will work in your niche and see how they perform. Taking notes on the hashtags your competitors are using is another great way to find those that will make the most sense to your audience.
Quantity and quality
We’ve found that 3-5 videos per week is the sweet spot! Some are as short as 5 seconds and some are as long as 1-minute. The goal is to keep your feed consistent and engaging.
We’re excited to see your first TikTok! Let us know how it goes by tagging @silvialisam on TikTok.
TikTok Content Examples for Nonprofits
Several nonprofits have already proved anything is possible using TikTok to help expand their message and mission. Get inspiration from some of the most popular and successful TikTok campaigns:
- Unicef’s Mascot
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched a global campaign on TikTok to raise awareness about climate change using the hashtag #ForClimate. They reached an audience of almost 400M people, who created almost 300K videos using the hashtag and a set of stickers representing extreme weather conditions.
To fight the learning crisis and promote the right for every child to have access education, Unicef came up with a mascot – a backpack called Uni.
#EduTok started as an initiative to challenge users to create content around education, wellness, and health. Users from all over the world hopped into this trend, motivated by the invitation to spread their knowledge and help others. With an overwhelming response of over 2 billion views for educational videos, this became the largest, most powerful TikTok campaign to this day.
For example, Malala Fund’s TikTok account is full of videos shedding light on issues related to girls’ education in communities around the world. Some of them use trends and are also humorous, but they all teach you something in under a minute.
TikTok nonprofit ideas
When it comes to marketing and fundraising, nonprofits are often at a disadvantage because they don’t have the same resources as for-profit companies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your target audience and achieve your fundraising goals. You just need to know your strengths and put your resources to good use.
At Slam, we've worked with multiple nonprofits to get them started and grow on TikTok.
Here are some ideas you can use:
- Hop on trends
- Interact with your audience
- Apply to TikTok for Good
- Host a nonprofit TikTok challenge
- Provide value by sharing edutainment
Hop on trends
Trends are collections of short videos using the most popular sounds, prompts and filters. New trends emerge every single day, which is why there’s always something new going on on TikTok. Think of them as global conversations among users. Conversations you will wanna take part in! So make sure to star up to date with the latest trends and challenges and come up with ways to apply them to your nonprofit’s content.
Interact with your audience
Respond to comments, post video responses, and invite people to actively participate in whatever you’re proposing.
This will help strengthen your org’s identity and become more credible and relatable. Ask questions and start conversations. The more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to support your nonprofit.
Apply to TikTok for Good
TikTok for Good is an initiative to help younger generations have a positive impact on the world. Becoming a part of this initiative is a great way to start conversations with a younger audience and raise awareness and funds for a cause.
TikTok for Good offers three possible avenues:
- Account Management: TikTok’s team of experts will help your account grow with best practices and guidance.
- Advanced Analytics (beta): data an insights to study how your content is performing.
- Promoted hashtags: they can help increase awareness of your cause by helping your videos reach larger audiences.
Host a Nonprofit TikTok Challenge
TikTok challenges are a great way to engage with your audience and get them to take action. For example, you could host a challenge where:
- Users have to do a dance or sing a song to raise awareness for your nonprofit
- Users have to donate to your nonprofit
- Users draw or write a response to something!
Whatever challenge you choose, make sure it’s something that will be fun and engaging for your audience.
Provide value by sharing edutainment
When you’re creating TikTok videos, it’s important to provide value to your audience. Don’t just post videos for the sake of posting videos. Your videos should be informative, entertaining, or both.
If you can provide value to your audience, you’ll be more likely to achieve your marketing goals.
Best practices for nonprofits on TikTok
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, as the best practices for using TikTok will vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of your nonprofit organization.
Some general tips for using TikTok effectively include:
- Keep your videos short and to the point
- Collaborate with other nonprofits and influencers
- Promote your videos on other platforms
- Apply to TikTok grants and partnerships
Keep your videos short and to the point
Though TikTok is trying long-form videos, top performing videos are short. Keep them under 60 seconds.
Collaborate with other nonprofits and influencers
One of the best ways to get your nonprofit’s videos seen by a wider audience is to collaborate with other nonprofits and influencers.
Find other nonprofits that align with your mission and values, and reach out to them to collaborate
Similarly, you can reach out to influencers in your industry to create branded content. Make sure their values align with yours.
Promote your videos on other platforms
Don’t just post your videos and hope people will see them. Share them on other social media platforms. Pro tip: film your video before so you can post it on Instagram Reels without the TikTok logo.
Apply to Tiktok grants and partnerships
TikTok runs different grants and programs to incentivize certain types of content on the platform. In 2020, Peer Health Exchange received a grant from the app to push educational content for young people. Keep your eye on TikTok’s newsroom to stay in the know about programs that may apply to your nonprofit.
TikTok Nonprofit Resources
As you get in the rhythm of running a nonprofit TikTok account, you’ll begin to notice what works and what doesn’t. Follow your gut here. TikTok changes fast, so you may have to adapt beyond your original strategy.
If you’re determined to get started and break the internet with amazing content that will help your cause, we’re building a nonprofit TikTok. Sign up here to get first dibs.
By signing up, you’ll also receive our templates:
- TikTok Presentation Template
- TikTok Notion Planner Template
- Google Doc Template
We've also just released our brand new Airtable content calendar — an all in one solution to plan all of your editorial content and grow your community online. Get it today for FREE!
TikTok is for more than just nonprofits! If you're a small business owner looking to get started on TikTok, check out these resource:
- Why Should You Start a Small Business TikTok?
- Small Business TikTok Ideas to Engage Your Audience and Grow Your Brand
- How to Get Your Nonprofit on TikTok and go Viral?