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TikTok for Nonprofits: The Beginner’s Guide

Author: Tatiana Morand
April 20, 2021
🕑 8 min read

First launched in 2017 as a short-form video sharing app used mostly by teens, TikTok has exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As people look for entertainment and connection during long periods of lockdown, the hilarity, quirkiness and community offered by the platform is almost irresistible. In videos just 15 seconds long, creators are dancing, singing, telling jokes, sharing funny moments and telling stories like never before.

TikTok now boasts almost 700 million monthly active users worldwide, and has been downloaded over two billion times.


What’s interesting about TikTok is that it’s still relatively uncharted territory. Users are developing incredibly creative content and driving the evolution of the app on a practically daily basis. There’s no single right way to go about using it and gaining a following.

So, what does all this mean for nonprofits?

It means there’s a huge potential to reach new audiences.

TikTok’s user base skews young, with over 41 percent of users between the ages of 16 and 24. And they use the platform a lot: 90 percent of users in this age group say they use TikTok daily.

With many nonprofits struggling to reach younger audiences, TikTok presents an exciting way to get creative and engage the next generation of donors and advocates with your cause.

But where exactly should you start?

Here, we’ve compiled a look at six nonprofits that are maximizing TikTok as an important engagement tool, as well as six of our best tips for building your following on the platform.

6 Nonprofits that are Killing It on TikTok

Before jumping on the TikTok bandwagon, take a look at the content being created by these nonprofits – all of which have built large followings on the platform.


Followers: 36.7K

Likes: 320.K

A powerful voice for the LGBTQ+ community, GLAAD uses TikTok to amplify its message and advocacy efforts.


GLAAD leans heavily on its celebrity following and creates videos that range from quick, personal messages from LGBTQ+ folks to high quality, superstar-filled productions.

2. Malala Fund

Followers: 271.7K

Likes: 3.1M

Malala Fund is dedicated to investing in education activists and advocates who are breaking down barriers to girls’ education in communities around the world.


Despite its serious and urgent mission, Malala Fund doesn’t shy away from creating and sharing funny, quirky videos in classic TikTok style.

3. Movember

Followers: 16.5K

Likes: 159.6K

Responsible for the growth of millions of questionable moustaches throughout the month of November, Movember is dedicated to improving men’s health on a global scale.

TikTok was practically made for Movember’s quirky communication strategy, which draws a crowd with its humour and innuendo.


4. Red Cross Canada

Followers: 302.4K

Likes: 3.6M

Red Cross Canada – also known as the Canadian Red Cross – is a humanitarian organization committed to helping people in need, wherever and whenever they may need it.

redcrosscanada meal ideas

They use TikTok to educate and inform users on everything from the crisis in Syria to meals you can prepare during a power outage.

5. Toronto Zoo

Followers: 173K

Likes: 1.4M

One of the largest zoos in the world and the largest in Canada, the Toronto Zoo is a leader in conservation science – and in creating hilarious videos featuring adorable animals. Their ridiculously cute TikTok posts regularly rack up thousands of views.



Followers: 368.2K

Likes: 3.7M

An agency of the United Nations, UNICEF has a mission to protect the rights of every child. They use TikTok to amplify the voices of children around the world and draw attention to critical issues affecting the well-being and safety of our planet’s youth.


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6 Tips to Help Your Nonprofit Find Success on TikTok

TikTok may seem a little overwhelming, but the best way to get started is … well, to just get started!

The great thing about TikTok is that it’s constantly evolving. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to this platform, and it’s a breeding ground for creativity, meaning you can really think outside the box and have fun with it.

Having said that, there are a few ways you can work toward finding a bigger audience for your content. If you’re ready to jump in, check out our top tips below to get started.

1. Post Regularly – Like, A Lot

With over a billion videos watched on TikTok every day, it’s important to post as often as possible to get attention on this platform.

Most experts agree that brands should aim to post to TikTok between one and three times per day to maximize chances of building a following.

Although that might be literally impossible for time-strapped nonprofits, the takeaway here is that more is more on TikTok.

You can get ahead of the game by pre-recording several TikToks at a time and scheduling them to post on different days using platforms like Later.

There are also some general best practices around what time of day to post – which changes depending on the day of the week! Check out this post for a full breakdown of the best times to share content on TikTok.

Once you have over a hundred followers, you’ll also get access to additional analytics that will show you when your followers are most often online — meaning that you can post then to ensure that they’ll get seen by the people who are already engaged with your content, and hopefully others like them too.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t! Just focus on getting creative and posting regularly, and you’ll start building up a following in no time.

2. Find Out What’s Trending and Get Involved

One of the easiest ways to get more eyes on your content is to find out what’s trending on TikTok at any given time and hop on the bandwagon.

That means keeping an eye on popular hashtags, themes, dances, challenges, songs and filters and connecting your content to those trends to give it a boost.

For example, the #ForYou hashtag is among the most-used hashtags on the platform – with #ForYou, #foryoupage and #fyp collectively racking up well over six trillion views alone.

But how exactly can you find out what’s trending? The easiest way is to become an avid TikTok user. Regularly peruse the platform, get familiar with trends and identify opportunities to connect your nonprofit’s content accordingly.

Need a bit more help? Check out this article for a more in-depth overview of TikTok trends. And this article offers an in-depth overview of TikTok hashtags and how to choose the best hashtags for your content.

3. Create Fun, Educational Content

Funny, quirky videos may be the meat and potatoes of TikTok content, but it’s also increasingly being used to create educational content – like Red Cross Canada’s videos about meal ideas or mask wearing.


Consider how you can add value for your followers by sharing tips, knowledge and insights from within your organization’s realm of expertise.

For example, if your nonprofit is dedicated to wildlife rescue, why not share tips about what to do if you encounter an injured animal? Literacy nonprofits could offer tips for helping kids develop a love of reading, and food banks could share information about the difference between perishable and non-perishable food items.

Not sure where to start? Gather some of your colleagues or volunteers together for a brainstorming session to get the creative juices flowing!

4. Find Your Niche and Stick to It

One of the most effective ways of building a loyal following on TikTok is to drill down on a niche and commit to it.

Offering niche content – which generally explores a specific theme or is delivered in a certain style – helps users engage more deeply with your brand.

When they know they can expect a certain kind of content from you, and it appeals to them, they’ll keep coming back for more.

So, how can you find your niche? Here are a few ideas:

  • Like the Toronto Zoo, consider creating videos focused primarily on one area of your nonprofit’s work. In the case of the zoo, that’s cute animals.
  • Quirky or serious? Consider going either all-in on the silly content (songs, dances, jokes) or all-in on engaging educational content.
  • Use your platform to showcase powerful human-interest stories and get really good at creating them.

For more insights on how to find your niche, check out this article from Vamp.

5. Take Advantage of TikTok LIVE

TikTok LIVE is a feature very similar to Facebook Live; it allows users and creators to “go live” and interact in real-time, enabling deeper engagement.

Over a longer period of time than the platform’s usual one-minute limit allows, TikTok LIVE enables you to respond to viewers’ comments, take requests and generally share a more detailed look into your work and impact.

Here are a few ideas for times when you may want to go live:

  • To share an exciting announcement, like a new program or a major gift.
  • Before, during or after an event to offer an “exclusive” look behind the scenes.
  • To introduce a new staff member or volunteer to your audience with a fun TikTok LIVE interview.

The possibilities are endless!

To learn more about TikTok LIVE, check out the platform’s guidance on this feature.

6. Get Influencers on Board

Like all social media platforms, TikTok creators can always benefit from the star-power of celebrities.

Featuring a celeb in one or more of your videos or having a well-known public figure mention your charity on their own channel can do wonders for building your following.

But what if you don’t know any famous people?

Try asking your staff team and volunteer network if they have any personal connections to local leaders or social media stars who may be willing to support your cause. You may be surprised!

And note that the influencers you work with don’t have to have millions of followers to be effective at raising funds for your cause. Even people with a couple of thousand followers can be great at spreading the word — if you know they’re interested in causes like yours, there’s a good chance their followers will too.

And remember, there’s no harm in reaching out directly to public figures or influencers who’ve posted about topics like yours in the past. They might even be flattered that you want to work together!

A Final Word: Don’t Get Discouraged! 

If you’ve taken all of our advice and you’re still getting nowhere on TikTok, don’t worry! TikTok can be a bit fickle like that; you can go viral out of the blue or you can find yourself with zero views.

Just keep giving it your best shot and see where it takes you. If you find that you’re investing a lot of time and energy and not seeing any results, it may be best to take a break and focus on your more tried-and-true social media platforms.

But if you’re willing to commit to reaching a younger audience and thinking outside the box, TikTok can be a fun and rewarding platform to get involved with. Good luck!

Has your nonprofit had success on TikTok? Let us know in the comments!

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