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Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Flickr to Reach New Audiences

Lori Halley 20 April 2007 11 comments


A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Flickr session at the Non-Profit Technology Conference. A common question asked was “How can we use Flickr to reach new audiences?”


A lot of nonprofits have started using Flickr to increase their visibility online. Flickr has become a popular social media tool because it allows nonprofits to upload their photos and supports an active community where people share and comment on each other's photos. But what truly sets it apart is its tagging feature. Tagging (keywording) your photos makes them easily findable on Flickr and the web.


Inspired by the many ideas and conversations I had during the session, I thought I'd share them with you. So here are five innovative ways that your nonprofit can use Flickr to reach new people and build a rich online community:


1. Run a photo contest


Use your organization’s Flickr album as an engagement tool and run a photo contest on Flickr. Invite your supporters to post their photos, add a link to your Flickr group on your website and offer a photo RSS feed so when a new photo or comment is added they are immediately notified. For example, The Nature Conservancy ran a photo contest for individuals to contribute their own nature photography. Winners were featured online and in a calendar and over 7,000 photos were posted. Contests like these encourage many nonprofits to use Flickr where images can be posted, organized and discussed all in one place. It also allows for some great feedback from the community. Another great contest I'm reminded of is the March of Dimes flickr contest that asked people to photograph where they kept their change because a handful of change is what a premature baby weighs at birth.


2. Tell your story through Flickr


We all know the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” so why not let them tell your organization or cause’s story. Setup an account at Flickr, post pictures about your cause and spread your story that way or connect with your supporters and start a Flickr group. Groups can be private or public and can be organized around an event, subject, theme or pretty much anything you want the group to be about. Encourage everyone to comment and give their feedback on the photos. Don't worry if you are a small nonprofit and don't have a lot of pictures to post. Even a few will help demonstrate to supporters your work towards your mission. Camera Rwanda is a great example of storytelling using Flickr. Here are the stream of photos on Flickr and a post with an interview.


3. Promote your event


Upload your event photos and encourage your attendees to do the same. Adding photos and organizing them on Flickr is really easy too. You can create sets or sub folders within your Flickr account to showcase your event photos and share them with everyone. This will help you reach a much wider audience than if you just posted them on your web site. As an example, here are Flickr photos from the NTEN conference. 


4. Launch a campaign


A great example of a fundraising campaign on Flickr is The Children at Risk Foundation. They are asking supporters to donate $10 per person to support their street kids programs and to contribute their own photos to their Flickr group. The photos and the conversations they generate show how a small amount of money $10 can make a huge difference. There are many advantages to launching campaigns on Flickr . They can be easily done on a low budget; nonprofits could really increase their visibility, provide an interactive community for supporters and engage new audiences.


5. Engage your volunteers


Encouraging volunteers to share photos, ideas and stories allows your nonprofit to take advantage of the creativity of as many people as possible and engage them in your cause. Volunteers are an asset for all nonprofit organizations and they are always willing to help. You’ll be amazed by how fast they can connect with your members and potential supporters.


What are some other ways that Flickr has helped your nonprofit? 




Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 20 April 2007 at 7:29 PM


  • Ben said:

    Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 5:14 AM

    You're right, Flickr has a ton of potential for all kinds cool social applications for clubs, charities and associations. My favorite is using a photo pool for a conference along with one of those Flash badges to shuffle and display those images on a web page. I actually still have one up from ASAE2006 at my blog, about half way down the nav bar. I just don't understand why more people aren't using Flickr. I spoke to a group of about 30-40 association execs a few weeks ago, and none of them had a Flickr account. Are people frustrated with the 200 picture ceiling for free accounts? My wife finds Flickr to be cool for sharing photos, but not all that easy to use when she wants to order prints. Is Flickr for those who lean a little to the geek side, and photobucket, snapfish, and kodak gallery for the person who wants to share pictures with just a few close friends and do heavy printing? I read recently on TechCrunch that Flickr has only some small percentage of the users that photobucket has.

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 5:41 AM

    Two other good photosharing sites are bubbleshare.com (very user friendly and tons of cool ways to embed its albums into your site) and SmugMug.com (also very nice and easy to use, they offer free Pro accounts to non-profits).

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 6:53 AM

    We received the following comment in response to a recent post about “ Five ways nonprofits can use Flickr

  • Beth Kanter said:

    Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 10:58 AM


    You've identified the key difference between photo sharing sites like Kodak Gallery and Flickr.  Kodak Gallery and the others are more like online photo printing services, with less emphasis on the sharing.  Flickr is a social networking site, with an emphasis on the sharing part.  I've always thought that flickr interface was really well designed, but then again maybe I'm leaning on the geek side.

    Great post summarizing what you learned during the session which I think might be the Flickr Affinity Group? No?

    Anyway, thought you might be interested to know that there was also a companion post filled lots of other resources and examples, including the ones you point to above.


  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 2:04 PM

    Beth, thanks for the resources and yes I learned this during the Flickr Affinity Group session at NTEN.

  • Deane J said:

    Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 4:54 AM

    Another way is to tap into meta sites which aggregates pictures with certain keywords. We have  a <a href="http://beyondborders.wordpress.com"> small youth organisation </a> in Sri Lanka, and whenever we have a sizable event we'd post a jpeg of a flyers/posters in our Flickr with the appropriate keywords so that a popular blog-aggregator site gets syndicates it. we have found this to be more effective than actually printing the flyers and distributing it. All this at no cost, perfect for a small org with limited budget :)

  • william reily said:

    Monday, 25 June 2007 at 6:31 PM

    i want to start a nonprofit organization and i need help, please contact me.

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 03 July 2007 at 6:14 AM

    Today marks a special day for the Wild Apricot team - it's a one year birthday for our product and our

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Monday, 15 October 2007 at 11:57 AM

    Did you know that most visitors leave a website within 10 seconds of landing on the home page? And they

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 23 October 2007 at 9:28 AM

    Britt Bravo of Have Fun * Do Good has an excellent post about using the social web for social change.

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Wednesday, 05 March 2008 at 1:06 PM

    If cost has been one of the barriers to using Flickr in your nonprofit's outreach efforts, this may tip the balance. The photo-sharing service announced today that it has teamed up with TechSoup, in a new program called Flickr for Good, to give away 10,000

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