What started as a photo-sharing app with a very specified, almost cultish following has boomed over the past month with a whopping “10 million users in 10 days,” according to TechCrunch.

As a member of the “Instagram cult,” I am very excited to see businesses, celebrities and politicians starting to access the application. Instagram provides users with the ability to spruce up photos from their smartphone library and share them with friends and family—and the other 50 million users as of May 1, 2012.

Instagram is the photo snob’s ultimate mobile gadget. It allows the photographer to transform their mobile photography into works of art. Instagram can make an image look like it’s from 1977, black and white, as well as many other filters. You can add artsy borders, put specific areas of the photo in focus, add light, and of course, flaunt your newly created masterpiece online.

With the Instagram membership inflating so quickly, it’s important to get your nonprofit on the bandwagon as soon as possible. At this point, few nonprofits have joined the Instagram cult to get their mission statement out photographically. The list of businesses actively accessing Instagram is scant, and the list of nonprofits is even more disappointing.

How are Nonprofits Using Instagram?

One of the more notable nonprofits on Instagram is charity: water. Their mission to bring clean, safe drinking water to developing nations is easily expressed through their photos.

Another nonprofit on Instagram is “Oceana.” Oceana is dedicated to promoting an ecologically friendly treatment of the ocean. They express disdain towards offshore drilling, destructive fishing and pollution. The photos on their Instagram account show the Oceana volunteers improving the environment as well as beautiful photos of the ocean.

Robin Hood” in New York City has approached Instagram in a slightly different fashion. The bulk of Robin Hood’s Instagram posts are live streams from benefit events and promoting their events.

All of the above nonprofits use innovative and capturing photos to show who they are affecting and where. By putting a face to their mission statements and aesthetically capturing their followers, they can increase their impact.

What Can You Do?

Join the small group of nonprofits on Instagram! Because there is still such a small number of nonprofits actively using Instagram, better now than later. When you sign your nonprofit up for Instagram, be sure to keep these six things in mind

  • Make sure to attach both your mission statement and your nonprofit’s website in the bio of your Instagram account.
    How?: Go to the Profile tab, tap edit profile, enter your mission in the bio section and your URL in the website section and press “submit.”
  • Taking photos and doing simple editing is not only effective for your nonprofits brand, it’s also fun. Search for the photo snob working in your organization and assign them to keep the site fresh and updated.
  • Follow, follow, follow! The best way to get your name out in the Instagram community is to start interacting—or following—with other accounts. Seek out the Instagrammers that express on their site that they might be interested in your mission. Once you have located such users, interact with their site. Just like Facebook, you are able to “like” and comment on photos.
  • Tag photos. Like Twitter, you’re allowed to hashtag relevant phrases or words on your photos so that they come up in searches—#nonprofit is an obvious possible tag.
  • Have a purpose. It’s important to stay on task when choosing an Instagram photo. Use the common “10 second rule” before posting. Use this time to reflect on how the photo might contribute to your mission. If it doesn’t contribute, don’t post it.
  • Link Instagram photos to other social media sites. Does your nonprofit have a Twitter or Facebook account? It should. When you publish your photos on Instagram, you are given the option to link them to your Twitter and/or Facebook account. If your Twitter is getting a little outdated, this is a great way to spice up your tweets in a colorful way.

Instagram is a great social tool that can really aid your nonprofit. If your organization is big into storytelling, Instagram gives your nonprofit a convenient way to tell its story visually.

How do you think Instagram can help your nonprofit spread its mission?