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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Facebook Ads for Nonprofits: What You Should Know For Best Results

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog post by Karen Vela from Community Boost.

Facebook ads can be extremely beneficial to nonprofits! If you’ve scrolled through your Facebook feed and noticed something from an organization or company that you don’t follow or haven’t interacted with before, chances are it was an advertisement.

Facebook ads are posts with specific messaging or imagery that are paid for by organizations or businesses. These ads come in a variety of different display forms and they are very customizable in terms of how much you’d like to spend on them, and who you’d like to target with them.

The Power of Facebook Ads for Nonprofits

According to the World Population Review, 69% of all adults in the United States are Facebook users. In addition, 84% of Facebook users show their support for causes and issues that are important to them. These statistics alone show the potential for huge reach on this channel.

In 2019, Nonprofit Tech for Good reported that 29% of online donors say that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give. This partnered with the rapid growth of online giving is a recipe for success with Facebook ads. The last stat I’ll leave you with is that $5 BILLION has been raised on Facebook & Instagram alone!

For nonprofits, Facebook & Instagram advertising is arguably the most effective & scalable marketing channels available. The hyper-targeting and creative options are unprecedented.

Let’s dive into Facebook ads for nonprofits and what you should know for best results:

Lead with Gratitude

Think about all the calls to action you’ve written or seen online. “Follow us!” “Donate Today.” “Sign Up,” “Learn More,” or “Contact Us.” Simply changing your messaging to show gratitude can actually help you stand out from the crowd. Here’s why you should lead with gratitude:

  • Earned Virality: By standing out from the competition and just saying thank you, our team sees much higher engagement rates on these ads. This makes it much cheaper to distribute this content across Facebook, reaching brand new audiences.

  • Connection to Donors: After being thanked for their support, like real humans, donors are much more likely to donate again when asked.

  • Retargetable Engagement: You can track all of this valuable engagement, signs of donation intent, and run ads using this data when you want to run an important appeal campaign.

  • Often Times They Convert: Oftentimes, our clients see a positive return on ad spend just for saying thank you to our donors.

Use Compelling Creative

Social media users have short attention spans! To increase your chances of capturing someone's attention, you’ll need to have compelling imagery or video, and caption. Here are a couple of tips for creating engaging ads:

  • Create Mobile-Friendly Content: 96% of active user accounts access FB on mobile, 65% of Facebook video views occur on mobile, and 91% of Facebook ad revenue comes from mobile ads.

  • Use Shorter Headlines: At Community Boost, we have found that short, to-the-point, catchy headlines that emphasize the donor benefit, not the call-to-action, perform best.

  • Emojis Work: Facebook is crowded and feeds are saturated, our goal is to stop scrolling and grab attention, and emojis help by making the readers’ job easier, and capturing visual real estate.

  • Appeal to Emotions: As nonprofits, this is the most powerful tool we can use to tell our beautiful stories. Use compelling imagery and copy.

  • Video, Video, Video!: Video bypasses iOS14 privacy changes and allows you to accurately retarget your audiences with ease, they generate higher engagement while allowing you to convey your message, and they allow for audience building through segmentation.

    • Facebook gives us data based on video views and lengths. This allows us to retarget people who watched the whole video or 5 seconds of a video.

Personalization Wins

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your donors. They are all different, so you need to communicate with them appropriately. Are they…

  • Completely New To Your Mission: “Who are you and why are you asking for my money?”

  • Brand Engaged but Never Donated: “I don’t have the money to donate, but I will like and share this post.”

  • Loyal Advocates: “I already love you, and understand your mission… you don’t need to sell me.”

  • Lapsed Donors: “Thank you for following up, I had forgotten all of the great work you do.”

You wouldn’t want to use the same messaging for a loyal advocate and a donor that has never heard of your organization, would you? Keep this in mind when you create ads, and always remember who the ad has been set up to target.

In addition, a good rule of thumb is to use concrete and specific messaging and focus on delivering timely and relevant messaging. Segmenting your targeting by visitor traffic is one way to do this.

Keep Users on the Platform

Your first thought when creating ads might be to direct the viewer to your website. After managing $2.6 Million in ad spend for our clients, we can confidently say it pays off to keep these users engaging with your organization on the Facebook platform. Here’s why:

  • It Makes Targeting More Accurate: Because iOS14 is creating limitations on who’s visiting your website, keeping your engaged audiences on the platform becomes our go-to top-funnel building strategy.

  • Social Proof and Trust Is Built: People trust and donate to organizations that have a social following/engagement. This tells them that you are active and responsive.

  • Users Are More Likely to See Your Ads/Posts: Because these users are active on social media, the algorithm is more likely to target them with your ads or post.

  • Lower CPA’s Due to Engagement: Cost per acquisition is much lower because these audiences have already engaged in previous content which Facebook ranks as “someone who has a positive experience” viewing your ads/posts.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is another great way to take your campaigns to the next level. There have been several changes to Facebook lead generation in recent months that make it a great option for nonprofits to add into their strategy (and another reason to keep users on the platform).

Here are a few lead generation avenues you can include within your Facebook ads:

  • Instant Forms: Instant forms are driving leads at a much lower cost than ever before. They are great for newsletter opt-ins, collecting volunteer leads, and event signups all within your ad.

  • Messenger Ads: Qualify leads through a messenger flow & create a connection between the user and your organization’s page.

  • Click to Call: “Call now” option for ads connects users directly to your sales/organization line, you can set hours of availability & connect directly.

  • Segmented Lead Forms: Set up multiple forms, and be able to segment your email lists. Multiple lead forms can even be used in the same campaign.

Adapt Your Strategy in Response to iOS14

In an effort to strengthen user privacy and informed data use, Apple launched changes that apply to iOS 14.5 devices and others moving forward. Specifically, this change requires that all apps in the App Store provide a prompt to iOS 14.5 users if they’re doing any “tracking” activity. Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework prohibits certain data collection and sharing unless people opt-in to tracking on iOS 14.5 devices via the prompt.

This change impacts all nonprofits or businesses that advertise mobile apps or optimize, target, and report on web conversion events from various business tools. As more people opt-out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, ad personalization and performance reporting will be limited for both app and web conversion events, which includes the act of making a donation. Here’s what you absolutely must do to combat these changes:

Whether you’re thinking about launching Facebook ads for the first time, or you’re looking to improve your campaigns, now is the time! They really can make a huge difference in your overall digital marketing strategy. Don’t believe us? Check out some of our case studies.

Call to Action: Community Boost is a digital marketing agency that works with nonprofits of all sizes and sectors to accelerate and scale online revenue and impact through Facebook Ads and more! Let’s talk about growing your nonprofit.



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