9 top tips on making Facebook ads work for fundraising

by Emily Casson

My digital team motto is ‘Think big, start small and scale quickly’ and Facebook advertising is a great tool to start, or grow, your digital fundraising. I started using Facebook advertising nearly three years ago and we now recruit over 10,000 new regular giving donors a year at a positive ROI, plus many more event participants, legacy pledgers and other supporters. So here’s some top tips that apply whatever your budget or cause.

  1. Think BIG about how digital can transform your fundraising.

What’s your aim? So you’ve decided to do embrace digital fundraising. Yey! But firstly stop and think why, how will Facebook advertising help you achieve your fundraising goals? And ultimately raise more money to achieve the aim of your charity. Set some clear goals and targets eg acquiring 1000 new regular givers or recruiting 3 Great North Run participants or 10 new fundraising volunteers. Don’t  forget the, harder to measure, secondary benefits eg raised awareness, impact on enquiries about the services your charity offers.

  • Plan your calendar.

Planning lots of different fundraising campaigns? Ensure you plan your calendar to maximise the chances of success eg retail ads at key times of year and appeal ads to tie into offline activity and legacy ads in Remember a Charity week. Seasonal ads often see an uplift, so get planning your Christmas campaign now. If running lots of fundraising ads at the same time keep an eye on frequency levels and serve to different audiences, to minimise potential of campaigns negatively impacting on each other.

  • Use  strong copy and creative.

Does your copy have a strong call to action? Remember people are scrolling past so it needs to be clear at a glance what action you want them to take. If using video in your creative mix then make sure it works with the sound off, as most people will be viewing it that way. Ads suffer from creative tire after a while, how long depends on frequency and length of your campaigns, so make sure you refresh your creative and ensure you have strong creative will a clear call to action. Use nudge theory to improve the performance of your ads eg a person looking at the button instead of straight ahead will prompt people to click.

  • Start small.

 Start with a pilot and I would recommend using a fundraising product you know works well offline for your charity  eg sponsorship or events. Don’t reinvent the wheel, yes digital donors can behave differently to your traditional supporter base (especially if your aim is to recruit a younger donor) but you know your charity best and you know what will go down well with supporters of your cause.

  • Test, learn, test, learn and then test some more.

I LOVE stats and Facebook allows you to test everything from creative to audience to see what converts better and Facebook insights are a goal mine. Even if you have a small budget and only have capacity to test a couple of things do it and question everything you think you know. Tried something and it didn’t work? Great news, that means you are innovating and not playing it safe and have potential for transformational growth.

  • Talk to your supporters.

My pet hate is seeing a Facebook advert with a load of comments underneath without replies from the charity. Someone comments to say they’ve donated/signed up/shared for you? Say thank you. Your supporter has asked you a question? Answer it! Getting lots of the same question? A comment handling bible is invaluable in dealing with a high volume of comments, the majority of which are likely to be nothing to do with the content of the ads or fundraising.

  • Don’t forget about conversion and retention.

Acquiring new supporters is great but have your optimised your landing page to improve conversion? If not you are missing out on potential income. Again testing is key here. Have you thought of what journey your supporters will go on? If time and budgets are limited even a simple thank you welcome email journey will help attrition rates (and more importantly delight your supporters!).

  • Measure your success.

Pixels are like little pieces of magic that let you track the performance of your campaigns and help optimise towards conversions. So if you haven’t already install them on your website. Make sure  you are checking back against your original goals and adjusting your campaigns based on the data. Also ensure your digital fundraising fits in with your ethical approach, there are some things you *could* do to improve results but don’t be afraid of saying no to anything your supporters wouldn’t be comfortable with.

  • Scale quickly and make your case for further investment.

So you’ve tried Facebook ads and it’s going well. You set your goals and measured your success, now it’s time to scale quickly. Make your case for investment to scale up Facebook activity and try new channels such as Instagram. Directors and trustees can sometimes see digital fundraising as a scary new world but facts and figures (and positive ROI!) can help convince them. If all else fails I’m always happy to share our success story and love hearing how other charities are scaling up their digital fundraising.

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