Facebook Ads for Non-Profits: 8 Money-Saving Tips

Facebook Ads for Non-Profits: 8 Money-Saving Tips

Margot da Cunha


June 18, 2018

Social Media

It is no secret that marketers in the non-profit sector do not have the same budgets that most marketers do. After all, it’s the name of the industry!

guide to facebook advertising for nonprofits

WordStream employees volunteering for a good cause!

As a graduate student, I know a thing or two about working with a small budget, and luckily Facebook is a great place to do just that! While not all Facebook advertising campaigns are cheap, there are many strategies you can implement so as not to overspend on the platform. There are also great opportunities for exposure if you advertise strategically on Facebook.

Why Advertise on Facebook?

You might be questioning the advice to spend your precious budget towards advertising on Facebook. Is it really worth it? Can’t you just post on your Facebook non-profit page and create buzz through organic social media efforts?

While this is a nice idea, Facebook is an extremely cluttered space, so while your budget may be miniscule it is still necessary to allocate a portion of it if you want any chance of getting seen and heard on Facebook. And I’m not the only one who thinks this…

“Unless you have a really large following, thousands of advocates sharing your content and maybe a couple of other organizations pitching in to spread the word, you probably won’t make a dent in the social space,” says Huffington Post writer Tulani Elisa.

Luckily, Facebook ads don’t have to be a budget-eater. Whether you’re generating buzz about an event, gathering donations, or just raising awareness about an important cause, these eight money-saving tips will help you accomplish your goals without drying up the bank.

#1: Craft Super-Compelling Ad Headlines

Aside from the image, the headline of your Facebook ad is the going to be the first thing that catches the eye of your viewer. You only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention and convince them to engage with your nonprofit. Therefore, your headline needs to be insanely actionable!

facebook ad examples for nonprofits

Image via Facebook

Stick to simple and powerful language that includes a specific call-to-action based on the goal of your ad. For example, if you are simply trying to generate awareness for your non-profit, try a CTA related to learning more. If you’re trying to raise money, try words like “give” and “donate.”

Whatever you do, make sure to show some personality in your headline. Use your nonprofit’s brand voice, whether that’s primarily about compassion or commitment. Here are some more tips to writing click-worthy headlines.

#2: Ensure Your Audiences Are Extremely Targeted

One of the many benefits of advertising on Facebook is that you don’t have to show your ads to every joe schmo who happens to stumble across them.

You likely have an understanding of who your target audience is, and since these are the individuals most likely to donate to your cause, why wouldn’t you focus your small budget on them? With Facebook ads you can do just that – hooray!

Whether it be a customer audience, specific age range, locations, gender, languages, demographics, interests, behaviors, etc., these categories just scratch the surface of how granular you can get in your targeting capabilities. For instance, let’s say you want to target “green moms” who are interested in cancer causes, running, and make between ,000 and ,000/year, you can do it!

how to target nonprofit facebook ads

Using these granular targeting options will ensure your budget is well spent on the most relevant individuals. Just make sure not to get overly layered to the point where no one ends up seeing your ads.

#3: Use Custom and Lookalike Audiences

Did you know that you can upload a list of emails right into Facebook and then show your ads to that audience? Through Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature, you can target the leads you’ve captured from your newsletter signup or other marketing efforts, or perhaps a group of your past supporters that you want to re-engage.

nonprofit facebook ad audiences

In addition to focusing on insanely targeted audiences (see tip #2) you should also be showing Facebook ads to the contacts you already have, but in an even more personalized way. For instance, let’s say you have a list of people who registered to attend a fundraising event. You can upload that list of people and target them with a highly specific ad that refers to that event and tells them what the next steps are.

We have discussed a few strategies for creating relevant audiences; once you’ve acquired enough data, you can clone your top-performing Facebook audience. Facebook’s Lookalike Audience feature allows you to take an audience you already have and expand your reach by finding new supporters that have similar attributes. You can pretty much clone your best audience. It’s that simple!

lookalike audiences facebook ads nonprofit

#4: Add a “Donate Now” Button to Your Facebook Ads

The majority of non-profits need donations to keep running and making strides towards their cause. Money makes the world go around, after all. However, this is likely the trickiest part about being a non-profit marketer. There are so many great causes out there, so why should someone donate to yours over some other cause? Well, convincing your pool of potential donors to help out is another thing the non-profit marketer always has at the top of their to-do list.

One foolproof way to increase the likelihood of driving donations through Facebook advertisements is by making it as easy as humanly possible for someone to make a donation. What could be easier then clicking a “Donate Now” button right from the Facebook platform? And yes, this magical button is something that you can indeed add to your Facebook page and ads!

facebook donate now button

One thing to note is that the Donate Now call-to-action button is only available for the following objectives: Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, App Installs, Lead Generation, Conversions, Product Catalog Sales, Video Ads, and Store Visits. Clearly, your options are not limited! Check out this page to learn about adding this donation-driving button to your ads.

#5: Utilize Ad Scheduling

As we’ve discussed time and time again, money is tight in the non-profit sector, so when it comes to running ads it likely does not make sense to blindly run ads 24/7. Why? Well, there are likely days and times where your potential donors or the key audience you’re trying to reach is spending more conscious time on Facebook.

Perhaps you’ve found donations spike towards the end of the week during lunch and after dinner. Or maybe trends fluctuate by season. You might see more activity on weekends when people are spending time indoors on their phones or computers during the colder months. In the summer this pattern may change completely.

Look at your Facebook data to make these determinations and take advantage of ad scheduling to show your ads to your target audience only at these peak, ready-to-convert times.

facebook ads for nonprofits ad scheduling

Ad scheduling is a great way to maintain control over your budget, and get a better return through the money you invest in advertising. Take advantage of this feature, and don’t let your small budget go to waste!

#6: Appeal to Emotions

While this is actually a tip that applies to all marketing campaigns, it is especially true when it comes to the non-profit industry. After all, these organizations are often built and run off of emotion. Investing in a cause is often an emotional decision.

Non-profit marketers have the opportunity to tell a meaningful story in every piece of content they share to promote their cause. This is by far the best way to reach people and make them invested in your business.

The key to appealing to user emotions is telling a story in an impactful way. Using descriptive adjectives in ad copy, showing pictures and videos of the real people or animals behind these stories, and letting your own emotional ties shine through will help others relate and become invested as well. Take the example below from St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In this Facebook ad they share a picture of a little boy who has beat cancer through the help of their supporters. What could be more impactful then a message like this?

example of a facebook ad for non-profit

#7: Experiment with Interactive Ad Formats

Storytelling and appealing to emotions should not be done just through copy. There needs to be supporting images and videos to tell your story in a compelling and convincing manner. You may have these resources already on hand or consider investing in some powerful videos to tell your story. Whatever you decide, Facebook offers a variety of visually compelling ad formats to choose from.

Take the carousel ad for instance; this ad format is perfect for any industry that has visual appeal. Non-profits fit right into this bucket. The Facebook carousel ad format essentially allows the advertisers to display a series of images in a catalog type format so viewers can scroll through and view multiple images or listings. You could create an ad featuring images of people participating in your fundraising race, or use images of the people and communities you’re trying to help.

#8: Continually Measure and Evaluate Your Campaign Performance

Last, but certainly not least, it is especially critical for non-profits to measure and track the success of their Facebook ad campaigns. Having insight into whether or not the money you’re spending is yielding a return is critical when resources are limited.

Taking action by understanding which metrics to track, how frequently to track them, and what constitutes a budget well spent will ensure no money is going wasted.

Facebook conversion tracking custom conversion dashboard

This might seem easier said than done. What metrics should one be monitoring? How often? What are these metrics really telling you? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Tracking, Targeting, and Driving Conversions on Facebook, which should help you get started on the right foot.

So, what are you waiting for? Get on track towards meeting your non-profit goals without breaking the bank using these money-saving tricks.

Margot da Cunha

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.


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