TikTok, the social network for sharing user-generated videos, was a breakout star six years ago, and it has only ballooned in popularity and usage since then. The platform currently boasts over 1 billion monthly active users and has become synonymous with dance challenge moves, cooking hacks, and Gen Z. But for nonprofits, TikTok presents a unique opportunity to tell stories, connect with new audiences, and even promote fundraising.
If you need even more convincing, here are a few reasons why starting a TikTok account for your nonprofit is a no-brainer:
- Videos less than 15 seconds have a higher engagement rate than long-form media. Attention spans are short right now, and TikTok capitalizes on that. You can, too.
- TikToks are easily shareable. The unique ability of TikToks to go viral and impact millions in the span of a few days holds great potential for cultural influence. So why not leverage it to raise awareness for your cause?
- It’s cost-effective. TikToks are easy and quick to make and require little to no additional resources.
We’re not the first to believe TikTok can be a great tool for nonprofits. There are plenty of amazing organizations that are already paving the way for the app to be more than just a platform for quirky challenges and mesmerizing cat videos.
Here’s a look at 19 nonprofits that are using TikTok to invite new followers into their missions right now:
1. Oregon Zoo
With 2.4 million followers, The Oregon Zoo is making a splash on TikTok and bringing fascinating creatures to animal lovers everywhere. Through behind-the-scenes videos of animals exploring their habitats and zookeepers caring for them, the account brings viewers to the zoo without ever having to look up from their phones. They also use popular TikTok songs to catch their audience’s attention and add an extra layer of emotional resonance. One of their posts, which features a rhino smashing a watermelon, was viewed over 100 million times.
Unicef is undoubtedly one of the most recognized nonprofits, and its TikTok strategy is an essential reminder of its influence. With a reach of over 435k followers, some of the platform’s biggest influencers appear in their videos. But any organization can learn from the way they authentically share stories from their team members and benefactors and cleverly use the platform’s donation tools and hashtag campaigns. While Unicef’s campaigns respond to tragedies, their TikTok focuses on levity and finding the humanity behind every situation.
3. American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is using TikTok to put its mission of promoting heart health into practice. From posting Taylor Swift songs that have the right beat for CPR to encouraging their followers to upload videos of themselves dancing to raise funds for American Heart Month, the account posts daily, high-energy videos of its community members to raise awareness about heart disease and encourage activity, all while staying on top of the platform’s latest trends.
4. American Red Cross
The official TikTok account of the American Red Cross presents safety and emergency preparedness information to its followers in a fun and engaging way. Followers can learn what to expect when giving blood, how to prepare for a tornado, tips for staying cool during heat waves, and more through silly videos featuring Red Cross team members acting out a given scenario. Each TikTok includes closed captioning and a voiceover so that vital information is accessible to everyone. They also post an occasional TikTok to bring attention to Red Cross actions worldwide or promote fundraising efforts.
ASPCA’s recipe for TikTok success is simple: lots and lots of cute animals. ASPCA is all about ending cruelty to animals, so on TikTok, they follow pets’ journeys from the shelter to loving homes once they are successfully adopted. Through adoption and fundraising hashtag campaigns, ASPCA uses TikToks to tug at viewers’ heartstrings and offer an intimate glimpse into the impact of adopting instead of shopping.
6. Malala Fund
Founded by student and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Malala Fund invests in education programs to help girls go to school and reach their full potential. The organization uses its TikTok account, which boasts over 857k followers, to help amplify girls’ voices and support their audience as they learn from one another’s stories. Users can submit a video of themselves sharing a personal story or achievement through a Typeform for a chance to be featured in a post. Each post offers its audience a reminder that everyone’s voice matters and has a place there.
7. Save the Music Foundation
Save the Music Foundation is dedicated to supporting and advocating for music education in schools across the country. Their TikToks feature influencers and students on the platform sharing their personal experiences with music education and how it changed their lives for the better. Followers can also find clips of students playing music at school and at home across the country. Save the Music’s posts are a reminder of the enduring power of music and community—and the importance of preserving it.
8. No Kid Hungry
Since its launch in 2010, the #NoKidHungry campaign from the nonprofit organization Share Our Strength has worked to end childhood hunger in the United States. The campaign uses TikTok to tell stories from the field and highlight the young faces behind their operations. With over 53k followers on the platform, they also promote fundraisers, petitions, and food drives to alleviate childhood hunger and feature stories from experts and influencers. The organization’s TikTok presence allows its audience to see the direct impact of their donations and spread awareness around the epidemic of childhood hunger affecting countless children across the country.
9. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude is a goliath in the fundraising world, tackling childhood cancer and disease research while supporting patient families. Their TikTok is flooded with short clips of kids celebrating moments of empowerment, like competing in sports after fighting cancer or leaving the hospital for the first time. The account also posts affirmations and encouragement, artwork from patients, and quotes from donors, all while using lighthearted trends to gently nudge viewers toward supporting their cause.
10. Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood’s TikTok is a master class in content with attitude. The team knows that current supporters dominate their viewership, so they tap into their audience’s frustration instead of courting new supporters. They use popular sounds to talk about their shock about abortion legislation and their enthusiasm for contraception access. They show off their support network with videos of advocates in front of clinics and government buildings. They also sprinkle informative videos into their content schedule with upbeat posts about PP’s services and news updates about reproductive access. As a result, their diverse content and emotionally gripping calls to action sustain a consistent stream of likes and comments.
11. UFW Foundation
The United Farm Workers Foundation supports farm workers by advocating for improved working conditions, immigration reform, and other worker protections. The tone of their videos alternates between hopeful and brutally revealing—for example, one popular video superimposes footage of immigrant farmers over the viral sound of Kim Kardashian proclaiming, “Nobody wants to work these days.” A popular “day-in-the-life” video follows a farmer working from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. picking eggplants and habaneros in the Georgia heat. Every video closes with a specific call to action urging political engagement and campaign support. This account is a powerhouse of emotional storytelling but doesn’t fall into the trap of disempowering displays of hardship.
12. JED Foundation
The JED Foundation helps build teens’ emotional health and works to prevent substance abuse and self-harm. While their TikTok following is small, it’s highly engaged—benefitting from actionable health tips and information. JED’s TikTok generates de-stigmatizing content about mental illness and promotes self-care practices that anyone can adopt. They worked with influencers like @rod, who produces the Millennial Recap series, and reposted his video promoting their donation link. Their content on self-love, stress, and reaching out to struggling friends shows they practice the values they preach.
13. Rescue One
Rescue One, an animal rescue facility in Springfield, Missouri, has a TikTok full of compelling, binge-worthy videos showing animals being found and healed. Rescue One doesn’t overdo it with heavy editing, gimmicks, or trends, instead trusting the viral video formula: short videos + cute animals = engagement. They polish off their videos with enough text or voiceover exposition to help the viewer invest in the journey of each pet they save. Rescue One’s TikTok is a case study of the efficacy of a simple content strategy done well.
14. Sacramento History Museum
The Sacramento History Museum became the most followed museum on TikTok after Jared, an apprentice, approached Howard, a gray-haired printing press operator, with the idea of posting TikToks showing how the old presses work. Howard initially declined, saying, “I’m not dancing for anybody.” (The WAP dance was trending on TikTok at the time). But Jared convinced him, and, as they say, the rest is history. The two men post videos printing designs for all kinds of occasions, but their soothing conversation and unexpected humor are what bring in viewers as much as the oddly satisfying printing-press ASMR. Unique behind-the-scenes content paired with authentic human presence makes for a viewing experience commenters describe as “wholesome,” “precious,” and “nostalgic.”
15. Natural Resources Defense Council
With 54k followers and a great engagement rate of 28% (4.5% is average), The Natural Resources Defense Council calls attention to climate change with short, easy-to-digest explainer videos addressing environmental issues across the world. From high-quality footage of bears in Alaska to casual videos using the latest Olivia Rodrigo song, the account provides plenty of relevant educational content designed to catch the eye and spur action on behalf of the planet.
16. Bat Conservation International
If you want to see bats of all shapes and sizes from every angle imaginable combined with popular TikTok trends, #BatTok is the place for you. Bat Conservation International has a niche but enthusiastic following and offers content viewers aren’t going to find anywhere else. Their videos are quirky, funny, and educational, and utilize popular sounds exceptionally well. They do a great job engaging their hashtag audience— and showing viewers the cute, cuddly side of the nocturnal creatures.
17. The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project is committed to criminal justice reform and exonerating the wrongfully incarcerated. Most of the account’s traction comes from their longer, hard-hitting personal stories of men and women who were freed from prison after years of waiting. The account proves that not everything on TikTok has to be silly, and shows the power of the platform to raise awareness for causes that matter.
The ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, is dedicated to “defending the rights of all people nationwide,” with a current emphasis on trans rights, voting rights, and reproductive choice. The account posts twice a week on average, which is more than most nonprofits and tends to boost their engagement. Most of their videos detail current events, keeping their followers informed and up-to-date with short, impactful content. They even take advantage of popular trends to discuss more serious topics, like in their recent “ACLU cases if they were Barbie” video, which used Construction Barbie and Judge Barbie to represent the Wright V. Olin Corp and Obergefell V. Hodges cases.
19. Aquarium of the Pacific
With 2.8 million followers, Aquarium of the Pacific is clearly doing something right on TikTok. While they do have the advantage of an aquarium full of fascinating animals, they also excel in posting frequent, creative videos that maximize the appeal of the content they have to work with. From engaging with viewer questions like “What is the loudest animal in your aquarium?” to posting videos of baby lumpsuckers (please look these up if you are into super adorable animals) to a “Get ready with me to be the cutest otter of the day” video, their content is hugely varied, educational, and just plain fun.
As these 19 accounts show us, it can be done. Nonprofits can thrive on TikTok—in fact, they already are.
If you’re still feeling uncertain about how to move forward, here are a few more tips on how to make TikTok work for your nonprofit:
- Think about what your audience wants to see– and what’s unique about your mission. Focus your content around that.
- Stay on top of the trends. Using trending sounds and templates is crucial. We know this can feel intimidating and exhausting, but the good news is you don’t have to live on your For You Page and take daily notes of what’s trending. There are sites that have already done the work for you.
- Get inspired by other nonprofits using TikTok well! (like the 19 listed above!)
- Just have fun with it. People love TikTok because it’s an outlet; an entertaining reprieve from the chaos of the outside world. So post the silly otter video—and let its cuteness raise awareness of endangered species for you!
View it as a community. TikTok really does bring people together. Embrace the human aspect of it and the beauty of uniting people around the globe in support of a common cause. They want to hear from you. They want to know how you’re serving others. And they want to get on board.