Nonprofits and TikTok are a perfect match. Nonprofit organizations work hard to make a positive impact, support their communities, and advocate for their mission while Gen Z — the biggest audience on TikTok — is known to use social media as a platform for activism.
There are hundreds of nonprofits on TikTok that have found success in raising awareness for their cause and generating community engagement. And we analyzed those organizations in our first-ever benchmark report for nonprofits to identify the strategies that the top NGOs are using to find success on the platform.
If your nonprofit isn’t on TikTok yet — or maybe you are, but your content hasn’t quite taken off — then take inspiration from what some of the top-performing nonprofits on TikTok are doing right on the social channel.
Top Nonprofits on TikTok
Nonprofits on TikTok are following similar best practices that most industries have found success with: tapping into trending sounds, having fun, and creating casual, less-produced videos. When it comes to engagement, nonprofits earned a median engagement rate by view of 4.37%, which is a little lower than the all-industry average of 5.69% from our 2023 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report.
Nonprofits also posted a little less often than other industries on TikTok. The average number of videos published each week was 0.5, which equals about twice a month. Most of the top-performing nonprofits posted more often than the average, suggesting there’s room to increase engagement if you have the time and resources to get more active on the social media platform.
With these benchmark stats in mind, these are the top nonprofits on TikTok. All of these nonprofits earned an above-average engagement rate on TikTok.
- Amnesty International
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Innocence Project
- Joffrey Ballet
- Bat Conservation International
- American Red Cross
- National Down Syndrome Society
- Institute for Justice
- College Board
See the full rankings for nonprofits on social.Download the report
5 Strategies From the Top Nonprofits on TikTok
If you’re looking for TikTok inspiration for your nonprofit, let’s take a look at some of the winning strategies that the top-performing nonprofits on TikTok use to increase views, generate engagement, and raise awareness for their organizations.
1. Mix high-low content: National Resources Defense Council
One of the top-performing nonprofits on TikTok is the National Resources Defense Council, or NRDC. With around 54K followers, NRDC has a smaller audience compared with the other top nonprofits on TikTok. However, the organization earned the top spot when it comes to engagement rate by view. NRDC had a median engagement rate by view of 28.7%, which is over six times greater than the average rate for nonprofits.
NRDC is an environmental nonprofit that works to fight climate change, protect wildlife, and advocate for public health and equality. To communicate this message, the nonprofit primarily shares short explainer videos that shed light on current events, environmental terms, and different community organizations around the world. While these topics are certainly not causes to be taken lightly, the nonprofit has carved out a space on TikTok to share information in a digestible and informative way.
The video below follows a similar approach by using a trending sound to address a serious topic. This video was the top-performing post out of all the top nonprofits on TikTok for the time period we analyzed. The video generated a 32.7% engagement rate by view, which is over seven times better than the median rate for nonprofits on TikTok.
The nonprofit used the momentum from this video to continue campaigning for the same cause. As we can see below, NRDC shared an update about their campaign about a week after the meme video, and this one generated an engagement rate by view of 31.1%. It also received over one million views, which is almost twice as many views as the trendy video.
What’s interesting about these two videos is that they experimented with different approaches to address the same topic — the first being a funnier take and the second making a serious statement. NRDC makes the case for maintaining a strong point of view and leveraging TikTok trends when it’s relevant.
To make this work for your nonprofit, experiment with a mix of funny, low-lift content and more produced videos to see what lands with your audience. Funny and entertaining always performs well on TikTok, so if it makes sense to, use a trending sound every once in a while to draw more people in.
2. Tap into TikTok trends and communities: Bat Conservation International
Welcome to #BatTok. Countless internet micro communities originate on TikTok, and Bat Conservation International has tapped into one of them. BCI uses TikTok to tap into the very niche, yet engaged community that is #BatTok (the hashtag currently has over 22 million views) to share information about its efforts.
The bat conservancy nonprofit includes hashtags like #BatTok and #fyp in nearly all of its videos, which can be one of the reasons it’s finding success on TikTok when it comes to engagement. Even with a smaller audience than most of the nonprofits we analyzed, BCI has a higher-than-average engagement rate, both by follower and by view. The nonprofit has a median engagement rate by view of 16.1%, which is over three times better than the average nonprofit on TikTok.
One of the nonprofit’s top-performing videos generated an engagement rate by view of 21.2% which is almost five times greater than the average rate for nonprofits on TikTok. This video also earned an engagement rate lift that was almost 80 times higher than the average for similar videos from the nonprofit.
The short video featured a clip of a bat with trending audio in the background that perfectly synced up with the bat’s movements. It was a low-effort video with high impact, which is one of the best strategies to use on TikTok — and one that BCI leans into for most of its videos.
The takeaway? If you think your nonprofit’s mission is too niche to resonate with a broad audience on TikTok, think again. There’s a community for every interest on the platform. And if there’s not, you can always spark interest by creating buzz around the topic yourself. The key is to stay on top of trending sounds and hashtags so you can create reactive content and widen your reach on the platform.
3. Start the conversation: Innocence Project
With nearly 80,000 followers and a median engagement rate by view of 17.5%, the Innocence Project is another nonprofit seeing success on TikTok. The criminal justice organization works to free innocent people, prevent wrongful convictions, and ultimately make the criminal justice system more equitable. On TikTok, they share the stories of people they’re working with, information about the inner workings and inequities of the criminal justice system, and positive updates about clients they’ve helped free.
The nonprofit relies on the community to sign petitions and spread the word about cases they’re working on, so it makes sense to tap into TikTok’s massive reach to communicate that message. For one of their campaigns last year, the Innocence Project created a dedicated hashtag to generate awareness and increase engagement around a particular case. The original hashtag, #savemelissalucio was viewed nearly three million times on TikTok and was used in three of the Innocence Project’s most engaging videos.
In addition to creating a dedicated hashtag, the nonprofit directly encouraged its followers to duet, share, and stitch the video below to help spread its urgent message — and it clearly worked. The video generated a 22% engagement rate by view and 62.5% engagement rate by follower. More importantly, however, the video was also shared over 3,000 times.
The Innocence Project demonstrates how to start a conversation and encourage engagement to increase your reach. The key is to use clear CTAs, communicate a sense of urgency (when it makes sense to), and raise awareness through original storytelling.
4. Stay current and consistent: ACLU
ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, is a well-established NGO that’s been fighting for human rights since the 1920s. The organization takes on major issues nationwide, so it makes sense to be active on TikTok where it can reach as many people as possible, especially a younger audience. ACLU has around 144K followers and generates a median engagement rate by view of 13.7%, which is a little over three times higher than the average nonprofit on TikTok.
One thing that makes the ACLU stand out from the rest of the nonprofits we analyzed is its posting frequency. The nonprofit shares about two videos per week, which is about three times more than the average nonprofit on TikTok.
The ACLU is also quick to react to current events or movements and regularly shares explainer videos so its followers can better understand what’s at stake and how to get involved. Most of the organization’s videos also use a trending sound, which is a common theme among the top nonprofits on social media.
ACLU’s most engaging video had almost one million views, generated an engagement rate by follower of 132%, and had an engagement rate by view of 16% which is over three times as high as the median rate for nonprofits on TikTok.
Staying on top of current events *and* trending sounds requires active social listening so you can not only react quickly but also whip up a relevant video that addresses what your audience wants to see. ACLU has clearly invested time and resources into staying tapped into the current conversations. TikTok trends move fast, but you don’t need to have a big team or a hefty budget to keep up. Use a social listening tool to ensure you’re always up to date on what’s happening in your industry. And if you have a Rival IQ account, you can also use our analytics tool to identify trending topics and hashtags that your competitors are using so you’re never the last to know about what everyone is talking about.
5. Leverage #LearnOnTikTok: American Red Cross
Red Cross earned the gold in both follower count and views compared with all of the nonprofits we analyzed, making the organization one of the top nonprofits on the platform. Red Cross also has a median engagement rate by view of 8.14% which is almost twice as high as the average nonprofit on TikTok.
One reason for the Red Cross’ success can be attributed to its educational content. Since the Red Cross is dedicated to teaching life-saving skills and helping people prepare or recover from emergencies, most of its videos are how-to-style. They often feature quick tips for day-to-day occurrences that may require first aid, such as a nose bleed, for instance. To increase the reach of its videos, Red Cross includes hashtags like #FirstAid and #LearnOnTikTok in 100% of its videos. The #LearnOnTikTok hashtag is one of the most popular hashtags on TikTok with over 660 billion views and counting, and Red Cross leverages this opportunity to get more visibility on its videos.
The nonprofit’s top-performing video during our reporting period generated a whopping 2.5 million views and had a 12.2% engagement rate by view, which is almost three times as high as the average rate for nonprofits on TikTok. If you take a look at the types of engagement, you can see that this helpful video — which was a compilation of common first aid mistakes — generated a good amount of comments and shares, proving that the content resonates with its audience.
Another thing that the Red Cross does well on TikTok is replying to users, specifically with a video reply. Interacting with your followers in the comment section is a crucial part of maintaining an active and engaging presence, and it’s also a great way to get inspiration for more content ideas.
If you take a look at the comments section under any of the Red Cross’s videos, there’s more than likely a video response from the nonprofit’s social team that introduces another helpful topic. In the example below, a follower left a comment about tornados on one of the nonprofit’s videos about lightning, which opened the door for an entirely new safety topic that Red Cross could address.
This approach is beneficial for engagement in a couple of ways. For starters, reading the comments under your videos lets you know what your followers are interested in seeing more of. This can inspire more content ideas so that you can consistently create videos that TikTok users will engage with. And second, using video replies loops the original commenter back in, which indicates that you’re listening to what your followers have to say. This will effectively make your audience feel more involved and will hopefully inspire them to be active participants in your TikTok videos.
Wrapping it Up
If your nonprofit isn’t on TikTok yet, now is the time to build your audience and advocate for your mission on the platform. With TikTok’s incredible reach, you can increase awareness for your organization and get in front of potential volunteers, donors, supporters, and people who may need your help.
Take a cue from the strategies these top nonprofits are using to generate engagement and reach a massive audience on TikTok. By using these benchmarks and being willing to experiment with the latest trends and short-form videos, your nonprofit will be on its way to seeing TikTok success in no time.
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