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Influencer Marketing Campaigns for NGOs: Responsible for a Better Tomorrow

Influencers are often associated with glamorous industries like fashion and sports. But even though these sectors have contributed a lot to the image of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), there are also influential people in other fields who address social and environmental issues in their content. Consequently, it can be of great benefit for non-profit organizations (NGOs) to use this type of spokesperson to bring more attention to their issues and reach a large community of interested people. Influencer marketing for NGOs - we explain how!

three people smiling wearing yellow tee-shirt
three people smiling wearing yellow tee-shirt

Key Takeaways

  • Influencer marketing allows NGOs to draw more attention to social and environmental issues thanks to influencers who help NGOs reach out to younger audiences.
  • NGOs can use influencer partnerships to raise awareness, educate, find volunteers, or call for donations . The different formats on  social networks allow for a broad and targeted approach.
  • Julien Bam, Emma Watson and the Surfer Foundation are just three examples of successful collaboration between NGOs and KOLs.

Responsible Influence: What are the benefits of influencer marketing for NGOs?

Influencer marketing can have many faces. From free product giveaways to sponsored content or long-term campaigns that remind users of the brand message, partnerships with influencers have one thing in common: authenticity and credibility.

Now, it is often the case that non-governmental organizations (NGOs)  have a good reputation among the public as they often advocate for social and climate-friendly solutions or proposals. Unlike some other brands, NGOs enjoy more credibility right from the start because they really “do something good”. But which NGOs do we know? Do you know of a wide variety of missions that are “doing good”? And how much support do the NGOs get?

This is why we want to bring influencers into the picture. Although the partnership of influencers and NGOs is by no means a new invention, the Covid-19 pandemic has digitized even more industries, some radically. Hollywood stars used to pose , for example, in a UNICEF T-shirt. In 2006, the United Nations Relief  Agency already had 27 active international ambassadors as well as several national helpers. The Spiegel magazine goes on to say: “They all volunteer their popularity for a good cause: they draw attention to children in need, call for donations and visit projects in developing countries. [Photographers and camera teams accompany the celebrities.]

So while the channels of communication have changed drastically in recent years, the principle remains the same. Celebrities who have a big impact on their audience can use their reach to create or raise awareness about important social issues. With an influencer partnership, NGOs can reach new, young audiences who pay more attention to the NGOs’ messages.

How does influencer marketing help promote important social issues?

Influencer marketing is now a dynamic strategy to facilitate  advocacy and fundraising for NGOs:

First, NGOs can use influencer marketing to increase their reach, especially to a young target audience. Thanks to the voice of influencers, their messages reach an engaged audience that trusts their words. Consumers are generally becoming more responsible and sensitive to social and environmental issues, as summarized in our Trends Report for Influencer Marketing in 2024. As a result, they are also more selective about who they follow and trust. That’s why NGOs that are collaborating with KOLs can have a significant advantage, especially in the coming months.

Second, influencers naturally help in creating authentic and aesthetic content. They know exactly how to tell stories and how to reach their audiences. Is a video, a story, or perhaps a more informative article suitable? Influencers usually have their own unique style and make NGOs more tangible for their target groups. At the same time, they may  be able to help with lobbying and fundraising because the saying  is still true: Those who have influence also have creative power.

Third, they know the regional habits, customs, and language. If you work for an international NGO but want to launch a local awareness campaign in one country, collaborations are especially a good idea. Consider which influencers are suitable for you, which, by the way, depends entirely on your goals, which you should always determine in advance.

  • Nano-influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers)
  • Micro-influencers (10,000 to 50,000 followers)
  • Medium Influencers (50,000 to 500,000 followers)
  • Macro-Influencers (500,000 to 1 million followers)
  • Mega-Influencers (1 million+ followers)

An example of this type of campaign is the French Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect water. The NGO’s issues also include water quality, public health, plastic pollution, and coastal management. Through its beach cleanup and education programs as well as its climate change projects, the Surfrider Foundation is known worldwide. The NGO’s marketing manager Amandine Lermigeaux uses Kolsquare to build and manage influencer partnerships, “As a nonprofit, we have to work with a small budget but represent big causes – influencers and ambassadors play a big role in helping us with this balancing act.

You can also easily analyze influencer partnerships with platforms like Kolsquare after the campaign. The learnings will help you understand the results and thus optimize future strategies and, if necessary, better calculate budget expenditures.

What is influencer marketing for NGOs?

NGOs undoubtedly have an important message to convey. But how do you get it out to the right people? With influencers, you can reach a diverse and engaged audience.

KOLs tend to come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life situations, giving them a broad spectrum of demographics, including different age groups, genders, ethnicities, and cultures. It is this cross-section that is of interest to NGOs which seek to capture the commitment, will, and loyalty of the younger generation as well as the giving spirit of the older generation.

But what could influencer marketing for NGOs look like in concrete terms? In a collaboration, you can ask for different formats: videos, images, blog posts, podcasts, and livestreams. Of course, each format appeals to a different target group, which is why you should consider in advance what exactly you want to achieve with your campaign.

In addition, influencers initiate a dialogue with their audiences, which can have a good impact on your NGO’s engagement rate. Through comments, DMs, and social media interactions, they actively engage with their followers and can stimulate a discourse about your important issues. This sense of community fosters a loyal and engaged audience as followers not only feel like they are part of a group, but also stand together for a good cause.

These are all non-immediate effects, but NGOs  are interested in a sustainable change of the environment, for example, by means of direct actions , right?

What are the options for influencer campaigns for NGOs?

The core goal of influencer marketing in the nonprofit sector is to build a deep emotional connection between the organization and its target audience. To do this, you can pursue a few different strategies:

1. Awareness campaign:

Work with KOLs who emphasize how important your cause is. What could make your message even stronger? Check your partners’ backgrounds; they may be able to speak from experience about your cause or they may be able to put themselves in the situation in a credible way. Personal stories speak to people.

2. Interest campaign:

Who has the expertise to credibly carry content in your niche to his or her target audience? When it comes to outreach and education, it’s important to work with KOLs who really know what they’re talking about. If followers ask questions, they are ready to answer. Otherwise, you could offer seminars or workshops to educate the Influencer on your specific topic.

3. Action Campaign:

Do you want to encourage people to do a beach cleanup or start a fundraising campaign? In this case, you’ll need partners who may have been volunteers themselves,  know exactly how to sign up for volunteer opportunities, or are educated about the details of upcoming events. Maybe you even have someone in your circle of volunteers  who has a relatively large social media reach? It doesn’t get any better than that.

Examples of influencer marketing campaigns for good causes

Let’s start with the big, globally known NGOs that work with Influencers to draw attention to their message. As mentioned at the beginning of this post and also in Der Spiegel, organizations like Unicef have been working with celebrities for quite some time.

1. Engagement for and with UNICEF

Engagement has always been important for NGOs and it still is today. If you only address a large group, but no interaction results, then the campaign is unfortunately in vain. You want to inspire action through your partners, be it through donations, volunteering, or advocating for your cause.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, which operates in over 190 countries, regularly partners with influential individuals and has even coined its own hashtag on Instagram: #ForEveryChild.

In 2019, for example, German YouTuber Julien Bam visited  Bangladesh as a UNICEF ambassador to raise awareness of the difficult situation facing children and young people. The YouTuber then told W&V: “To experience how the children in the slums have to fight for survival every day, how they can still have joy despite the most difficult circumstances and what UNICEF means for them, was extremely impressive. And it made me realize that we can all do something!

2. Emma Watson is a feminist

Known from the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson is not only an actress, but also a passionate philanthropist. In 2018, Watson raised $984,000 for the UK Justice and Equality Fund as part of the Time’s Up campaign and then immediately donated $1.7 million herself to kick off the campaign.

She later joined 190 other British and Irish actors – including Carey Mulligan, Kate Winslet, Claire Foy, Noma Dumezweni, Emma Thompson, Jodie Whittaker, Sophie Okonedo and Saoirse Ronan – in signing an open declaration of intent for greater justice in society. It advocates for women’s rights in the UK and speaks out against sexual harassment in the home and workplace.

3. The Surfrider Foundation for Clean Water

The challenge for this French NGO, founded by a dedicated group of surfer friends in the coastal town of Biarritz, is to communicate its messages in different languages in local markets. Amandine Lermigeaux, Head of Marketing for the NGO, used the Kolsquare platform to find five profiles in different countries that would speak on five different topics in the local language. The KOLs were @JC.Oceans (Spain), (Germany), @tiago.greentribe (Portugal), @joanaguerratadeu (Portugal) and @plasticsoupsurfer (Netherlands), which had a glamorous result.

According to Lermigeaux, “The Portuguese profiles were very special and the community engaged with the conveyed message . We had some great engagement rates that I didn’t expect. We see that the communities of smaller profiles – even if they don’t specialize in marine conservation – know what we’re talking about. For example, when KOLs mention the climate crisis, their followers immediately know what it’s about and are more likely to vote or get involved.” Read more on the Kolsquare website.

#InfluenceForGood: At Kolsquare, we stand for Responsible Influence

Kolsquare has been a Benefit Corporation since 2020, and during the Corona pandemic, we leveraged our reach and tech expertise “to help spread social media best practices and appeals in support of messages from institutions and organizations impacted by the crisis.” Alexis Klar, Chief Financial Officer of Kolsquare commented, “I’m proud that Kolsquare has become a nonprofit because I truly believe that companies need to think about their footprint in the world […]. At Kolsquare, we want to use the power of KOL marketing to positively impact the world.

Our mission is to empower all ideas, people and organizations with KOL marketing to positively impact the world. To do this, we use all the resources we have to inspire and implement solutions to social and environmental problems. You can easily read our new Culture Book for free and learn more about us or book your free demo of our platform with our team to learn more about Kolsquare.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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