Is Threads Worth Trying? A Guide for Nonprofits

If you’ve been following along with social media updates over the summer, you’ve likely heard the news: Threads has stepped into the ring.  (Figuratively of course, but also literally, since Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, challenged Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, to a “cage match.” But we digress.) 

Threads, the new microblogging app, dreamed up by Meta as an alternative to the all-powerful Twitter (now called X), is here to shake things up in the social media world—in a good way. 

With a stated goal by the developers of creating a more “open and friendly” text-based social media app,  people responded with astounding enthusiasm. 

Within seven hours of its introduction to the market, Threads passed 10 million users. Within five days, they hit the 100 million user milestone,  a number that took TikTok nine months and Instagram two and a half years to reach.  Threads smashed records, becoming the fastest-downloaded app in history.

Although engagement dropped after the initial rollout, Threads still has what it takes  “to kneecap X,” especially with the introduction of their recent web version. (Forbes says that the most engaged social media participants interact from their laptops.)  And with the recent swirl of political drama, it looks like discussion and engagement on Threads might be on the rise again. 

But let’s cut to the chase. Is Threads worth trying? Is it really that different from Twitter? Should nonprofits consider diverting valuable time and energy to expand onto yet another social media app?

We say you might want to give it a shot. 

At the very least, this one has great potential.  And here’s why. 

  1. It’s linked to Instagram

Threads is unique in that it’s built off an already existing app– Instagram. That makes switching your follower base to Threads incredibly seamless. Setting up an account only takes minutes, and with the click of a button, you can connect to all of your Instagram followers, with no need to build a platform back from zero. Threads’ ability to interface with Instagram and share content on both platforms is also a huge plus. 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: You don’t need to build your platform from scratch.

  1. It promotes storytelling.

Here at Swell + Good, we built our business around our belief in the power of storytelling. Good stories are crucial to getting people on board with your mission, and with a much higher character limit and the ability to use clearly organized threads to display longer narratives, Threads prioritizes effective storytelling over short, punchy tweets. Nuance and context can be more readily captured, and with better picture and video-sharing options, the storytelling experience is more immersive and appealing than what’s available on Twitter. 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: Stories are essential for your marketing– and Threads is a better place to tell them. 

  1. It fosters a genuine connection with your audience

The hope for Threads is that with a better format for replies and discussions, accounts and their followers will be able to connect more directly and with more depth; and for nonprofits, and really any brand, this is huge. Some companies have already done a great job with this, and their casual, quippy Threads presence is drawing in real engagement from consumers and enhancing personal connection to the brand. (For a few examples of for-profit brands embracing this new tone, check out Anthropologie, Wendy’s, and Chipotle.) 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: Threads helps you connect personally with your supporters.

Ok, great. You’re convinced. You’ll give it a try. But what exactly would your content look like? Where can you find inspiration for this new venture? Luckily, there are nonprofits who have gone ahead of you, paving the way for a new type of communication and connection with supporters. Here are seven of them: 

Unicef has been posing questions to their followers such as “How many months paid maternity leave do you get in your country?” and “What healthy food does your little one like to eat?”, inviting hundreds of replies from people across the world– and creating a community in the comments. 

No Kid Hungry has embraced a more relatable tone and has seized the opportunity to bring people together—including their fellow nonprofits. “If we thread together with @feedingamerica and @mealsonwheels, can we make a quilting club to end hunger” they posted shortly after creating their account. 

charity: water has done a great job of using the connected threads feature, as well as the more visually appealing slide-through photo gallery that Twitter doesn’t have, for more in-depth and compelling storytelling.   

TED Talks is an excellent example of a nonprofit creating meaningful discussion. They have been posting a question for followers to answer with each video, such as “If you could go back in the timeline of your life, where and when would you choose to go?” and they actually respond to the answers in the comments. 

StoryCorps is leading the way on supporter engagement, and even reposted and commented on a reply they received to one of their stories. Then the user replied to that post– creating a genuine interchange between the organization and a valued consumer. 

Teach for America has opted for an off-hand and witty tone, posting short, relatable tidbits like “missing the adrenaline rush of seeing a teacher somewhere that isn’t school.”

Save the Children is acing the Threads game with great storytelling and informational posts combined with a dynamic tone and trending memes, creating a much more pleasurable experience than most of what you see on Twitter. 

So here’s hoping that Threads really does usher in a new era of kindness on the internet, boosts community and engagement, and becomes another, better place for you to share your organization’s story– and connect with those who make it all possible. 

19 nonprofits using TikTok well

19 nonprofits using TikTok well

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. 

2. Unicef

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. 

18. ACLU

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:

  1. Think about what your audience wants to see– and what’s unique about your mission. Focus your content around that. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Get inspired by other nonprofits using TikTok well! (like the 19 listed above!) 
  4. 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.