Stories is Instagram’s customizable, Snapchat-like photo and short video-sharing feature. It allows users to post dispatches that evaporate within 24 hours. This drives plenty of repeat viewership by playing directly on the fear of missing something important. But for people who wanted to use that engagement for a cause, the system was poorly designed. You either had to direct viewers to a clickable link in your bio, or verified nonprofits could ask viewers to swipe through to their own donation hubs or Facebook fundraisers. But both options directed givers outside the app. With a new design for how it handles giving, Instagram is moving to control those donations, too.
The new fix is a “donation sticker” that works like an internal tap-to-donate button. To popularize it, the company coordinated with celebrities like Pharrell Williams, Julia Roberts, Miley Cyrus and DJ Khaled. Williams posted a picture with added hearts around a group of smiling kids with t-shirts that read From One Hand To AnOTHER, his personal charity that runs STEAMM (the extra M is for “Motivation”) themed summer camps for low-income kids around the country. Meanwhile, Riverdale actor Charles Melton made a straight-to-camera pitch to his fans, asking them to support the Special Olympics, with a large donation sticker hovering mid-screen.
For regular Stories users, the sticker plays on existing muscle memory. To add it, you just upload your picture or video, and then select the new “Donation” option from the traditional special effect menu. That’s the same place that includes things like Location, Countdown, or Music. Next, you’re directed to a charity menu that lets you pick from groups you’re already following, other that are popular, or search for a specific charity.
Any U.S. nonprofit can sign up to join the database, as long as they’ve signed up to accept donations on Facebook, and their Facebook is connected to their Instagram account. Many organizations, including Black Girls Code, No Kid Hungry, and ASPCA have already done so. Each organization could then obviously apply their own donation sticker to their own subsequent stories, something that’s already being tried by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Malala Fund, GLAAD, and the American Cancer Society.
On the donation side, viewers who tap to contribute will trigger a pop-up containing a short bio of the charity alongside different dollar amounts. Need more information? Okay, you can also click through to the group’s Instagram page. After one-time payment registration, donors can choose to give between $5 and $2,500 per transaction. As Instagram explains in a formal announcement, fundraisers can also track the activity of each pitch by swiping up on each story to see a running contribution total. Instagram isn’t taking any fees for the service, a policy already established by Facebook’s giving pages.
Convincing people to spend more through Instagram is a growing trend. In March 2019, the company allowed several major brands to start using a click-to-buy option for some products on its traditional photo feed. Nonprofit donations were left out of that development, perhaps in part because their goods and services don’t lend well to impulse shopping. Stories might be a better vehicle to make those pitches. “Instagram is all about bringing you closer to the people and things you love,” the company said in a statement provided to Fast Company. “An important part of that is showing support and bringing awareness to communities and causes that are meaningful to you, which is why we built a way to donate to nonprofits directly from Instagram Stories.”