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Much of the work we do on the Econsultancy blog focuses on major consumer brands and how they use various marketing channels, but we occasionally get asked why we rarely mention charities.

It’s a topic we looked at a few years ago in a post that flagged up which charities use Twitter, so I thought it would be interesting to take a similar look at charities that use Pinterest.

To be clear, these aren’t necessarily the ones that I think are doing the best job of using Pinterest, it’s really just a look at how recognisable charities with different aims and causes are making use of the social network...

Action Aid

Action Aid’s four Pinterest boards include some interesting imagery, but it doesn’t appear to have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to updating them since it established an account more than a year ago.

It has pinned 62 images that give a good idea of the work it carries out, but it isn’t really updated frequently enough to keep its followers interested.

Furthermore, each of the pins include a huge amount of text describing what’s taking place, which can discourage other users from sharing the image.

Amnesty UK

Amnesty UK has an excellent collection of boards, with content including its various campaigns, celebrities, recommended reading, Christmas cheer and images of staff members.

One of Amnesty’s most interesting boards was created to raise awareness of its campaign to ‘Free Pussy Riot’.

Several members of the Russian band were jailed last year after staging an unauthorised performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour leading to an international drive to have them freed.

Amnesty put itself at the forefront of the campaign (Google ‘Pussy Riot’ and you should see an Amnesty ad in the paid search results) and its Pinterest board is a collection of protest images from around the world.

The pins, which generally include far too much text, are labelled with the hashtags #freepussyriot and #pussyriot to help raise awareness of the campaign.

And like many consumer brands, Amnesty isn’t above using Pinterest to push its own wares. It has a board called ‘Shop with conscience’ that is just a collection of its own products, some of which even include price tags. 

Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust is perfectly suited to Pinterest and social media as people love sharing images of cute animals.

It only joined the social network a few months ago and has since pinned 70 images across eight boards, attracting 668 followers.

In keeping with tactics employed by a large number of consumer brands, a vast majority of the images come from the charity’s own website. This means it avoids getting caught up in any copyright issues, but I feel it also misses out on the community aspect of Pinterest and may inhibit Dogs Trust’s potential reach on the network. 

Overall the boards are a decent mix of the charity’s fundraising, education campaigns, products and events. However I do think that the Dogs Trust could be making more use of Pinterest, as it must have a shed load of cute dog pictures that it could seed on its boards to help raise awareness of the charity.


Greenpeace is probably one of the world’s most high profile charities and it has bought into Pinterest in a big way. It has pinned more than 1,000 images to its 46 boards and has clocked up almost 6,000 followers.

Most of the boards focus on a particular campaign or initiative, such as saving the arctic or protecting rainforests, while others make use of Greenpeace’s celebrity endorsements.

For example, alongside boards labelled ‘Our Earth is beautiful’ and ‘Arctic Animals’ there are others named ‘Women of Greenpeace’ and ‘Stars who want to save the Arctic’.

As with other charities and brands most of the pins link back to Greenpeace's own website, but the overall mix of nature, animals, fashion and celebs is perfect for Pinterest as it’s all content that people like to share.

Greenpeace has also made use of Pinterest’s community feature by creating boards that allow other users to post their favourite images related to environmental issues.

Macmillan Cancer

Macmillan has using Pinterest for almost a year, but has only pinned around 113 images on its 15 boards. The boards largely focus on specific fundraising initiatives including a variety of athletic events.

As a cancer charity Macmillan faces a difficult challenge to find imagery that other users will want to share, and I feel the focus on the people involved in fundraising events is likely to yield the best results.

The social team also manage to avoid falling into the trap of including loads of text at with each pin.

National Trust

The National Trust is another charity that is blessed with shareable content and it has done a great job of exploiting it.

Its 17 boards have almost 1,400 followers and include brilliant, inspirational images of food, the countryside, National Trust properties and its campaigns.

Unfortunately the pins often include a massive amount of text which serves to break up the flow of the boards and make them look a bit messy, but in most cases the images are strong enough to hold your attention.


Oxfam has clearly done its research on the kind of content that tends to get shared on Pinterest and as a result eight of its 23 boards are food related.

These include boards named ‘Cook smarter’ and ‘Less meaty meals’, which tie into Oxfam campaigns around sustainable living but also cleverly target Pinterest’ most popular topic.

Oxfam’s other boards focus on its campaigns and fundraising efforts, and it is one of the few charities that isn't shy about pinning content from third-party sites.

RSPCA Little Valley Animal Shelter

Thought the RSPCA’s UK head office doesn’t use Pinterest, I feel it’s worth flagging up the efforts of the Little Valley Animal Shelter in Exeter.

The local rescue shelter has taken to Pinterest to publicise the animals that it is currently trying to rehome, as well as creating two other boards of funny and inspirational images.

Little Valley only has a handful of followers, but its images are cute and it’s a relatively easy and cheap way of raising awareness about the shelter.


The UN’s charity for children has almost 7,000 followers, which is more than several major consumers brands that I’ve looked at recently.

It has an extremely active account with 1,500 pins across 39 boards, most of which are related to specific campaigns.

UNICEF also has several community boards that encourage other users to pins their own images. The result is that one of its boards has more than 60,000 pins and 33,000 followers.

In general the boards are quite interesting, though they do suffer from the standard charity issue of too much text on each image.


Campaigning for clean water doesn’t necessarily lend itself naturally to eye-catching content, but Wateraid has done an okay of collating images of its fundraising initiatives and the work it carries out.

Unfortunately its 11 boards are quite sparsely populated, as two of those boards account for 52 of its 147 pins.

I feel it should perhaps ensure it has enough content to create full, interesting boards before it decides to create a new one for each fundraising initiative.

David Moth

Published 10 April, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1686 more posts from this author

Comments (18)

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Ashok Kumar

Also I know that Compassion International (http://pinterest.com/compassion/) one of the big charity in the world using pinterest well. They offer sponsorship to the poorest children in the world.

over 3 years ago



Really interesting to see how charities are approaching Pinterest. We have recently set up an account ourselves (for Charity Choice), and noticed that many charities have been slow to adopt Pinterest, and don't pin as many of their own campaign posters and images as you would expect.


over 3 years ago

Gemma Storey

Gemma Storey, Content Specialist at Carrot Communications

Great list. I’d also add Battersea Dogs & Cats http://pinterest.com/bdch/ and The Humane Society of New York http://pinterest.com/humanesocietyny/.

over 3 years ago



At EarthShare, we created a shared board where all our member charities can pin the good work they're doing. Check it out here:

over 3 years ago


Emily Pykett, Social Media Manager at RNLI

At the RNLI we trialled Pinterest for two months just before Christmas to promote our online shop: http://pinterest.com/rnlishop/

The biggest hindrance at the start was that it took so long to get listed on the site so none of our pins or boards were listed in search results for weeks.

The profile is still live but we're not pinning at the mo - we're holding our horses to see where Pinterest goes next with business accounts. The stripping of Google Analytics tags on links is really off-putting at the moment.

over 3 years ago


Emma Gunby

Really interesting to see how other charities are using Pinterest. We are guilty of having set a Pinterest account up and then not giving it enough TLC.

Will definitely be taking a look at it again & any advice on things we could post would be really useful.


over 3 years ago


Anil Arora

Hit the nail on the head there, as a cancer charity, we (Macmillan) will always find it challenging to find images. We do have a great selection of case studies and hopefully we'll be expanding our boards with them.

I'd also like to highlight this board we've created. Macmillan produces excellent print materials, and this was our attempt to translate our "recipes for people affected by cancer" booklet into a Pinterest board for our followers. http://pinterest.com/macmillancancer/recipes-for-people-affected-by-cancer/

Our cancer information board is also worth a look - http://pinterest.com/macmillancancer/cancer-information/

The other issue with Pinterest is how time consuming creating boards can be. Can't help but feel they could streamline the process and permit far more editing/tweaking than they currently do.

over 3 years ago


Joe Downie, Digital Comms Manager at WaterAid

Really useful review, thanks. Having established a presence it's important to maintain it, so we will definitely be reviewing our approach.

One bugbear though is that Pinterest *still* hasn't included a category for 'Causes' or 'Charities' which is a shame as there's clearly an appetite among its users to pin about the Causes that matter to them.

over 3 years ago


Alannah Heaton

This is really very nice idea for creating charity event through social media site Pinterest. I liked the Pinterest more among all social media sites. They images and videos shared in Pinterest are amazing.

over 3 years ago


Adrian Brown | Senior Communications Officer at NSPCC

As a child protection charity we are limited in the images we can share about our work and we didn't want to simply post stock marketing images on Pinterest.

Since we joined Pinterest last autumn and we've focused on sharing our infographics, advice leaflets, our campaigns (including videos), and photos from our fundraising events.

But we also wanted to embrace the community aspect and share content from around the web like internet safety tips or fun things like our board about children's books.

Interesting thoughts here about the text that goes with the image and use of hashtags. As Anil says it does take quite a lot of resource to keep up the flow of new content. I think getting staff and volunteers involved in pinning (moderated) may be a way to generate more pins?

Do let me know if you have any feedback on our Pinterest! http://pinterest.com/thenspcc/

over 3 years ago


Daniella Latham

Great ideas, Adrian! Our charity, Lumos, also has a very regulated policy on child protection and protecting children's identities, therefore we also cannot show images of children on Pinterest.

Your ideas to share infographics, photos from events, etc. are very useful. I also think showing images of staff would be good to develop supporter familiarity.


over 3 years ago


Virpi Oinonen

Those of you who are lamenting the fact that you dont have photos to share: how about using illustrations or cartoons? Hire someone to produce 20-50 cartoons describing what you do, maybe illustrating real quotes and hey presto - youve got shareable content for Pinterest (and Facebook, your blog etc).

Illustrations, cartoons and comics are especially good for more abstract topics or issues that need a sensitive treatment.

over 3 years ago


Prabhat Shah

Like Action Aid pinterest which represents those they are working with. As it was said is early 19th century "A picture is worth a thousand words". It is still the same.

over 3 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi David,

Thanks for an interesting post. The Charity and not-for-profit sector doesn't get as much coverage for ecommerce/digital marketing as other sectors but is really interesting.

I think the point about ActionAid posting lots of copy with the images is open to debate. The nature of what they do means the stories of the people are really, really important. As a long term supporter and donor, learning about the people and the projects is part of why I support them. Whilst Pinterest is obviously a highly visual social channel, giving an insight in to the back story may actually bring the picture to life and the context may help encourage sharing.

It would be interesting to compare a board without the copy vs one with the copy and see what people prefer.

I also really like Greenpeace's use of celebrity endorsement to raise the profile of individual causes.


over 3 years ago


Michelle Morris

Hi David, an interesting look and analysis of how the various charities use Pinterest. Particularly noteworthy is Oxfam posting about food, I wonder if this was a conscience marketing decision on their part or a happy coincidence.

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Hi all, thanks for your comments and suggestions. I’ll definitely take a look at some of the other boards to get a better idea of how other charities are using Pinterest.

@James, the use of text on the images is certainly open to debate, but personally I think that if you include loads of text then you’re going to deter people from sharing your content.

Pinterest is all about sharing interesting, eye-catching images, so brands need to tailor their content accordingly. You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for different social networks, but instead need to play to each of their strengths. By all means include a few sentences describing the image, but you have to cap it somewhere otherwise it will almost definitely put people off sharing your content.

over 3 years ago


Jake Delany, Heavy Rigid (HR) Truck Licence by Brisbane Truck School at BTS

Pinterest become very famous is very short time period. I love it for image sharing and beauty and make up and hair style. - http://brisbanetruckschool.com/hc-licence

almost 3 years ago


Pet Cover, Owner at Pet COver

The nature of what they do means the stories of the people are really, really important. As a long term supporter and donor, learning about the people and the projects is part of why I support them. - http://www.petcover.com.au/

over 2 years ago

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