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

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

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.

UNICEF

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.

Wateraid

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.