Pinterest Nonprofit Benchmarking with Pinerly | Beth's Blog

Pinterest Nonprofit Benchmarking with Pinerly

Digital Strategy, Research Studies

Last week, I wrote a post that summarized some tips, resources, and tools for using Pinterest.    I took a look at a couple of the measurement tools available for Pinterest and got on the waiting list for Pinerly after reading  this analysis from the Poynter Blog based on stats provided by Pinerly.   I was curious about what I could learn if I did an informal benchmark study of  a few nonprofit Pinterest users.   Rick Kats kindly sent me a spreadsheet of metrics for 7 nonprofits that were early adopters and are using it consistently.

First, let me offer this disclaimer.   I’m looking at “counting metrics” here – and I don’t have all the details of the overall results and the rest of their strategy – nor do I have other metrics  – for example referral traffic and conversion rates for donations or purchases.  My goal wasn’t to compare raw numbers of each organization’s Pinterest scores to each other, but more to use the numbers to find those with highest engagement and reach and take a look at their boards, techniques and content.

Here’s the stats I asked for and why:

Average Repin Ratio:   Gives a measure of engagement
Followers: Gives a measure of reach

I looked at the numbers by account as well as by:
All Boards Combined: All of the organization’s board combined to get an overall index
By Type of Board: To look for particular boards that scored higher and analyze what seems to work

This was a lot data to deal with and I wasn’t after a comprehensive field study.   Rather, I selected a small group of nonprofits that have were early adopters of Pinterest and have been consistently using the platform as part of their integrated content strategy.  All are large nonprofits with large regional, national, or international audiences.

The seven organizations include:

Follower Counts

I look at follower accounts for pinterest accounts as well as the average followers per board.   The followers for accounts are people who select “follow all,” and pinterest recently upgraded it system.  The board follower numbers are based on people follow particular versus boards versus all the boards of a user.

The average followers per board ranged from 803-3300 for these organizations.

The board topics with the most followers from this sample of seven early adopters include:

  • Photography
  • Inspirational Visual Quotes
  • Humor
  • Animals
  • Children
  • Recipes
  • Gardening/Farming
  • Products
  • Home
  • Technology

The most popular board in the group is UNICEF’s Photography board – which includes over 100 compelling photos of their work and they have been consistently adding content, including a “Photo of the Week” feature.  It’s clearly self promotional but may be popular because the photographs they tell a story and since they already have this content on their web site, it is smart to leverage it by creating a pin board with inks back to the site.  If you look at UNICEF’s home page, you’ll see links to other social channels, but not for Pinterest, perhaps because they’re still experiment – and they appear to be using Pinterest as an outpost to reach new audiences.

NWF’s “Wildlife Photography” and SFMOMA’s “The Golden State” (for an exhibition) photography boards were among their most followed boards.   These organizations already have significant photograph collections as part of their content strategy and sharing these through their pinterest presence is most likely an efficient process.

SFMOMA’s Museum Store board is one of the its top three boards in terms of followers.   If recent research showing that 1 out of 5 people who pin items later purchase them holds true for museum store purchases, then SFMOMA’s board should should a good return.

A quick browse through these boards shows that the organizations are collecting and organizing “lifestyle” visuals that match the tone of the community at Pinterest. For example,’s most popular board is “Sustainable Recipes – the visuals are the photograph of the food and there is a link to an article or post over at grist.


For engagement, I looked at the Repin Ratio by board and select those with the highest ratio. The ratio is the total number of repins divided by total pins.   The index above was computed for all boards and ranges from 3-6.  (My overall repin index for my boards is 12).

The average repin number for specific boards ranges from 2-19.

Boards with scores of ten or higher included boards with these topics:
  • Visual Quotes
  • Cute Animals
  • Gardening/Farming
  • Photography

The organizations that scored the highested include grist and NWF, perhaps because they both include board with cute animal photos – like grist’s “Cute Rescue Animal Overload

The board with the highest engagement score comes from AARP’s “Quotes to Live by Board and is also one of its most popular boards.

The inspiring visual quotes spark engagement, another high scored board comes from Livestrong’s “Inspiration” is a collection of visual quotes about overcoming cancer and a mix of the organization’s content and content from others.

Universal human  themes appear to spark engagement. For example these boards scored high:

UNICEF’s Sound the Alarm Crisis in the Shael and UNICEF Mothers,

NWF’s Fun


Livestrong’s “We Dare To Act on It

It would be interesting to know what the conversion rate is from people who find UNICEF’s photos on pinterest and go on to donate and if there is a similar conversion rate as for product sales.

This is just a quick and dirty benchmarking study for Pinterest which is a curation platform for visuals and videos – and as this content strategy study from NTEN and Idealware (it will appear in the next NTEN journal that publishes on Thursday) indicates, many nonprofits are not yet curating on visuals and videos. Ideally, it would be interesting to see this data for a particular sub-segment of the nonprofit sector or on a broader scale from NTEN once the practice of visual curation is more widely adopted in the sector.

This summary did take some time to generate the data, and to analyze — so wanted to limit the sample.   The good folks at pinerly gave me a spreadsheet and I needed to slice and dice and visualize it to get insights.

If you are looking for additional research, nonprofit examples, tips, and how-to resources for pinterest, see my blog post from last week.     If your organization is on Pinterest, have analyzed your pins, boards, and accounts for reach, engagement, referral traffic and conversion?   Do you know what works?  Have you benchmarked this data against other similar types of nonprofits?   What did you learn?

The complete data set is here:


12 Responses

  1. Garth Moore says:

    I think our big concern is with click-throughs. Pinterest’s promise was to get click-throughs back to our site and have a real traffic driver. But, we’ve seen few referrals. Is it just a matter of volume of photos and followers until you start getting more referrals?

  2. Beth says:

    Garth: That’s a good question! It needs some more research to answer!

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