Facebook Ads for Non-Profits: 8 Money-Saving Tips
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!
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? What about Facebook grants for nonprofits? Is there such a free Facebook advertising for nonprofits?
Unfortunately, Facebook does not offer an equivalent to Google's Grants program--so you're not going to be able to advertise your nonprofit organization for "free" on the platform. That said: as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. And when you spend money on Facebook, you give yourself the potential to experience really great ROAS. So while it's not free, per se, there is a good chance to end up in the black if you advertise effectively.
And if you have a smaller budget? 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 a pivotal part of non profit advertising on Facebook. 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!
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 $75,000 and $99,000/year, you can do it!
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.
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!
#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 non profit advertising on Facebook 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!
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.
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?
#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.
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.