Thanks to social media, today we have a nearly endless number of windows into parts of the world we'd normally never see. You just need to know where to look.
The five Instagram and Twitter users below leverage social media to showcase their passion projects through breathtaking photos and heartbreaking stories. These activists offer great examples of how to generate awareness and inspire strong, engaged groups of followers for causes.
They go beyond hashtag activism and travel to the areas where help is needed most—whether that's a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan or an impoverished village in Africa—for an inside look at issues. Their feeds juxtapose violence and suffering with moments of joy and elation, even introducing Westerners to pastimes like volleyball soccer.
Following these activists will give you a constant source of new perspectives—and might even inspire you to help make a difference:
Gabby Salazar, Conservationist
Freelance photographer Gabby Salazar captures some of the most beautiful—and rare—animals and plant life on the planet on her Instagram profile. With each photograph she shares, Salazar provides information on the animal's habitat and characteristics, as well as whether the species is threatened or endangered.
Salazar's work earned her a Fulbright Grant and a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, which funded a 10-month conservationist project in Peru.
Nicholas Kristof, Author and Activist
Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times who pens columns and books about injustices around the world, uses his Instagram account to visualize humanitarian crises. Kristof's Half the Sky Movement—which is named after a book he co-wrote with his wife—helps women turn oppression into opportunity. His often-heartbreaking photos detail the oppression and violence many people face across the globe.
Recently he has helped raise awareness of the horrible conditions of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, where the ethnic minority has been denied citizenship and rounded into what Kristof describes as concentration camps where starvation is a constant threat.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
Amnesty International fights for basic human rights in every corner of the globe, and its secretary general, Salil Shetty, uses his Twitter account to share the organization's latest news and victories. From police brutality in Brazil to labor exploitation in Qatar, Shetty's Twitter feed is an outstanding resource for keeping abreast of injustices in the world.
Shetty travels the globe, providing glimpses of the tragedies unfolding in places where basic human rights have been stripped from entire populations. For brands looking to connect with a cause, Shetty offers a daily window into the battles Amnesty International faces.
Hassan Hijazi, Save the Children advocate
Hassan Hijazi uses Instagram to document his work in Jordan as the media and communications coordinator for Save the Children. Hijazi shares captivating portraits of Syrian refugees searching for a safe haven as they flee the violence in their home country.
Hijazi's photos are frequently tagged #savesyriaschildren—search the hashtag, and you'll learn about the lives of people displaced in the Middle East. A network of Save the Children Instagram accounts document the devastation children face globally due to war, famine and more.
Hijazi also provides a look at what life is like for someone who works for a nonprofit if you're interested in joining the field.
Pierre Ferrari, Heifer International CEO
Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International, frequently tweets about food sustainability issues as populations skyrocket and global warming decreases farmable land and water supplies. Heifer International helps impoverished regions develop farming techniques to battle hunger, and Ferrari shares stories on Twitter covering different aspects of farming and world hunger.
Ferrari is particularly adept at highlighting new technologies in farming and healthcare and products like the $1 cup that will help keep babies in Africa from starving. Ferrari provides businesses and individuals with many avenues to get involved with helping solve the world's growing food crisis.
Read more about how creativity and tech are fueling today's nonprofits in Adweek's Cause Marketing Report.