Raise Donations and Engagement with Facebook Advertising Today — A Non-Profit’s Case Study

In Digital Marketing by Tara Singh

Now that your non-profit has gathered a solid group of fans on your Facebook page, how do you influence them to give to your organization?

You’ve spent countless hours drafting and posting content to your organization’s Facebook page and answering questions from fans and readers — activities that nurture an engaged and loyal audience. Without sacrificing the relationships and engagement you are building on Facebook, are there ways to raise funds from this audience? Yes.

Engaging your social media audience and raising donations from them effectively and efficiently doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. 

You can create a social media program that aligns with your organization’s brand, engages audiences, provides quality content and raises donations for your organization.   There are many strategies to consider, however, and each social media platform should be treated differently.

Today, I’ll focus on Facebook advertising and how this tactic can be used to fuel campaigns for raising donations and engagement.  I’ll share four campaign ideas that can be fueled by Facebook advertising and a recent example from one of our clients, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

Before we dive in, you might be asking: “Why should I focus on Facebook and spend advertising dollars on this platform?”

  • From a general industry perspective, in comparison to other social media platforms, Facebook dominates as a source of traffic and sales.
  • Facebook continues to lead in popularity and daily use.
  • Particularly in the last year, Facebook has updated its algorithm to weed out promotional content from brands. This move will drive brands to create more interesting content to promote their offers and it will force organizations to pay to reach Facebook’s valuable audience of 1.35 billion monthly active users.


Four Campaign Ideas for Facebook Advertising

As with any channel, before creating campaigns and reaching audiences through Facebook advertising, you need to understand the various groups of people you reach, or are trying to reach, on Facebook.  From there, you can find and create stories and offers that relate to your Facebook audience.

1. Email lead-generation through incentivized campaigns can help attain valuable email addresses.

Because brands are limited now in reaching fans with promotional content (as noted earlier about Facebook’s new algorithm), it’s a good idea to use Facebook to influence fans to become email subscribers. With email, you have more control of how much, when and what your audience sees.

Facebook’s advertising platform enables you to target new email prospects and track lead conversions from highly targeted audiences.  You can suppress your own email list in targeting to avoid duplication, too.

Types of email lead-generation campaigns:

  • Pledge: A pledge campaign makes people part of a movement.
  • Action Alert: An action alert provides subscribers with news updates.
  • eBook: An eBook provides resources that offer highly specific and useful information.
  • Advocacy: An advocacy campaign is more formal than a pledge campaign, asking audiences to give their email addresses to help move legislative action forward.

2. Direct fundraising offers can be promoted through Facebook advertising.

You can promote products and targeted offers in social media.  Facebook enables advertisers to develop a highly targeted audience (by zip code, through customized lists, interests, lookalike audiences, and more).

Along with your promotional offers, it’s very important to feature compelling personal stories of the people your ministry reaches.  At Masterworks, we see a better conversion response on social media offers that lead with or feature a compelling story and photo.  The stories that resonate best are hopeful or inspiring stories such as testimonials that humanize recipients of a ministry, conveying redemption and restoration.

3. Brand awareness can be driven by Facebook advertising. Facebook’s ad platform enables you to create greater visibility and exposure for your brand with highly targeted audiences — at a fraction of the cost that traditional media (like TV ads) require.  

4. Facebook subscribers can be increased through advertising. Building up your Facebook community with a relevant quality audience is important.  At Masterworks, we’ve found that Facebook fans convert with the right content and offers at the right time.  It’s important to note that you need to nurture your Facebook community year-round with engaging non-promotional content.

 Non-profit Facebook success case study: Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission

For Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, our Masterworks team recently piloted two Facebook advertising campaigns. The Mission wanted to raise support for their Thanksgiving meals and Gift Catalog campaigns with direct fundraising offers on Facebook.

With consultation from our team at Masterworks, the Mission identified compelling stories of transformation and developed landing pages for each story, along with offers to be used in Facebook ads.

We aligned the Facebook advertising campaign with email content and distribution dates.  We targeted email subscribers, website visitors and fans to gain optimal results.

The campaign generated $24,000 in donations. More than $20,000 of the donation total came from people with clicked-through on the Facebook ads.  Secondarily, the campaigns garnered 304 new Facebook subscribers for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.  

Additionally, the Facebook ads drove higher “free” reach than other non-paid Facebook posts during the campaign period.  The Facebook ads not only performed well in driving conversions and traffic, but they were viewed as engaging content by targeted audiences.

A priceless benefit the Mission achieved through Facebook advertising are the comments and recommendations made on the ads from supporters:

“I used to give to many different charities, and they are all worthy, but years ago I decided that all my giving will be to the Lord & the Lord’s work which is why SUGM is one we joyfully support.  Keep up the great work!” Russ (one comment of many on the Facebook ads).  

What’s your experience with Facebook advertising for your non-profit?

If you’d like to connect to discuss ways to raise donations and engagement through Facebook advertising, please connect with me at tsingh@masterworks.com.