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How Non-Profits can utilize Snapchat Marketing

How Non-Profits can utilize Snapchat Marketing 6

Welcome to the Snapchat Influencer Q&A series, where you can learn from the masters as we deconstruct the techniques used by Snapchat influencers and marketers.

Today we are talking to Kristyn from the Youth On Their Own (YOTO). YOTO aim to prevent school children from dropping out of education.

As part of their social media marketing strategy, YOTO have been utilizing Snapchat. In the interview

In the interview, Kristyn tells us how non profits can make the most of Snapchat, examples of YOTO’s Snapchat marketing campaigns, what they have found difficult about using the platform and what makes it different from other social media sites.

youth on their own snapcode

Youth On Their Own
Dropout Prevention Non-Profit, Snapchat Marketers

Hi Kristyn, great to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. Could you tell us a bit Youth On Their Own and what you do?

Thanks, Jason! Our mission at Youth On Their Own is simple: to support the high school graduation and the continued success of homeless youth. We are a 31-year-old dropout prevention nonprofit based out of Tucson, and we serve nearly 1,600 homeless teens each year throughout Southern Arizona.

My position at Youth On Their Own – or “YOTO,” as we often call it – is the Director of Development… which is just a fancy way of saying that I am responsible for ensuring that we raise enough funds to support our programs.

Sadly, we don’t receive any direct federal funding, so every year we must strive to raise as many dollars as possible to serve more students in need. The high-paced environment makes my job very unique – no two days are the same.

youth on their own snapchat marketers

When did you realize the potential of Snapchat for nonprofits and when did you get serious about it?

We at YOTO were introduced to Snapchat by Chris Strub, social media guru and the first man to Snapchat and live stream in all 50 states.

Chris visited the YOTO offices during his travels across the country and showed us how we, as a nonprofit, could harness the power of social media to promote our cause… especially with Snapchat.

He inspired us to launch our Snapchat account when we were – and still are – one of the only nonprofits in the area using the platform.

We’ve still got a long way to go… but we’ve made huge strides in not only building a loyal following but also regularly integrating our Snapcode into our other platforms to ensure that folks know we’re on the app!

How have you been using Snapchat so far for YOTO?

Snapchat has been great for us to get the word out about our mission and the need… especially when it comes to supporters outside of our Tucson bubble.

One example of this is when we were running desperately low on basic needs items this past summer. The “Mini-Mall”, as we call it, is where homeless youth may obtain all of the items they need to succeed in school, from food to clothing to school supplies.

Typically, we allow students to take 10 lbs. of whatever they need… but because our shelves were nearly empty, we had to decrease the limit to 7 lbs.

We shared our struggles on Snapchat, showing a behind-the-scenes look at the Mini-Mall and what 7 lbs. of food actually looks like (spoiler alert: it is very little!).

At the end of the day, we had an outpouring of support messages on Snapchat – many from folks who didn’t even live in Arizona but wanted to support the cause! Within several days, our offices were flooding with Amazon boxes filled with all of the items we needed for our kids.

Another campaign we tried recently was a “Snapchat Challenge” to engage our followers! We had several different challenges throughout the month of November – from spotting a YOTO bus bench ad [these are scattered throughout the city of Tucson] to drawing what “success” means to you – and we learned a lot!

We’re currently exploring more ways to incorporate Snapchat into our social media marketing in the future.

non profit snapchat marketing

Have you noticed other nonprofits embracing Snapchat yet, or are you leading the way?

We’ve noticed several national or international nonprofits embracing Snapchat – like the United Nations, PETA, Ocean Conservancy, Greenpeace, and others.

However, we haven’t noticed many smaller, regionally based nonprofits like us utilizing the platform. My assumption is that it has a lot to do with staff, time, and resources.

Luckily, we’ve had the support of university interns and other volunteers who’ve helped us make this a priority for our organization!

What makes Snapchat different from other social media platforms for nonprofits?

For nonprofits, it’s a constant balancing act. When you’re so short-staffed and your primary focus is supporting your client base, you have to choose how to best spend your time.

That’s why so many nonprofits, in general, haven’t always been fantastic at social media: when raising funds and providing services are your key objectives, other things – like exploring social media – fall by the wayside.

I think Snapchat poses even more of a challenge for those who are pressed for time. It isn’t necessarily like other social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – the other platforms that we are actively engaged with) where you can passively create and absorb content: you actually have to creatively and authentically produce your message.

It’s unfiltered, and it’s personal. That’s what we like most about it.

snapchat for non profits

What have you found hard about using Snapchat for YOTO so far?

Other than the obvious answer of “It takes more time” than other platforms, what we’ve found challenging is producing relevant content for the Snapchat consumer.

Other platforms tend to be disastrous when it comes to content: Twitter is filled with sometimes useless banter, Facebook newsfeeds are filled with only small slivers of meaningful content… but Snapchat is different.

When you’re building personal relationships on Snapchat, it’s less about dumping as much information as possible, and instead about forging valuable connections. We wish we had more hours in the day to spend on Snapchat building those relationships.

You might also like: How to Growth Hack your Snapchat with Justin Wu

What do you think about the future of Snapchat as a marketing tool?

With the right combination of time and know-how, we think it could be a GREAT marketing tool for nonprofits and businesses alike.

For us, it has allowed us to begin bridging the gap between our “typical supporter” (which tends to be older, female, and white) and other demographics (especially youth).

As we mentioned before, we also think it’s a great way for a business/nonprofit to appear more authentic and less scripted to its supporters. With Snapchat, it’s not about perfection but rather spontaneity, proximity, and personality.

What advice would you give to another nonprofit or small business who are just starting to grow their Snapchat audience?

Just go for it! Even if it means spending 5-10 minutes per day posting a few Snaps to your story, or sending messages to other Snapchatters in your area, a few minutes every day can add up to a large following in a few months.

Be genuine and be yourself – your authenticity and passion for your mission will shine and do the rest of the work for you.

non profit snapchat marketers

Where can people find you?

People can find us on Snapchat (youthontheirown), Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram (@youthontheirown), LinkedIn (, and YouTube ( Give us a follow! We love interacting with folks who are passionate about social media, homeless youth, and social good.

You can also find out more about our programs, our staff, and news/updates on our website at

Thank you, Kristyn and Youth On Their Own for taking the time to share your knowledge and opinions on using Snapchat for non profits. To connect with YOTO on Snapchat, scan the snapcode at the top of this article. If you enjoyed this interview, please check out more in the Snapchat Influencer series.

Non Profit Snapchat Marketing

For other non-profits and small businesses, this infographic (created by WebpageFX) reiterates many of the points above and backs them up with some statistics.

As always, if you have any questions about non profit Snapchat marketing please don’t hesistate to get in touch with our team at [email protected] We are always happy to help!

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