By Brooke McMillan
We know that the “pay to play” is here to stay with Facebook, but what is your nonprofit choosing to promote? What are you boosting and why? What should you be spending your donors’ hard earned money on anyway? Take a look at the following gut check questions before considering social media advertising.
What is your organization’s mission statement?
First things first – If you aren’t crystal clear about your organizational goals, then you might want to hold off on any advertising strategy including promotion of your fundraising events. Until you can concisely explain who you are and what you do in one or two sentences, then you might not be ready for any advertising. Have a chat with your board, your CEO or your programs team and get that mission statement hammered down. Events are fantastic fundraising and awareness tools, but if you cannot explain your goals enough to write a simple Facebook ad then how do you expect to sell participation in a marathon or a bike ride?
What do you (or your development team) hope Facebook ads will achieve?
Let’s get real for a second. Facebook is a great way to get more eyeballs on your content. It is a great way to send traffic to your website. It’s even a good way to encourage meaningful conversation about your mission. What it is not is a silver bullet. Facebook will not fix all of your problems and should not be the only method you use for achieving your end goal. Set expectations with those in charge prior to launch that this should be part of a larger marketing strategy that include other methods like:
- Google AdWords (Google Grants)
- Organic Facebook posts
- Rallying your most ardent advocates
- Twitter ads
- YouTube pre-roll
- Phone banking
- Direct mail
- Neighborhood canvasing
- Earned media
- Content marketing
- Street teams
- and the list goes on and on and on…
I give you this ridiculously long list with one caveat. Facebook has over 1.5 billion users worldwide and half of all U.S. users log into the platform every single day. That is some serious reach! You cannot deny that the platform is like the world’s largest rotating billboard. If done correctly, you will reach the right audience. They will see your ads and people will click to get more information, but make it a part of a great strategy.
What should your organization choose to promote?
There are a lot of great things a nonprofit can choose to promote on Facebook. I tend to select the things you can actually prove a 1 to 1 return on investment. Example: Your organization just released a fancy new curriculum that will help teachers and coaches address the issue of domestic violence. Success to your grantor equals the number of people that download that toolkit. Using Facebook ads to target by geography, education level and employer (like an ISD) then send traffic to that page and encourage a download will help you show your funding partner show that you are successfully getting the word out to educators.
Do you know what you are doing?
Outside of the mechanics of pressing the button that says ”boost post” do you really know how the mechanics of Facebook advertising? Have you ever logged in to the back end of the ads manager tool? Do you know all the ways to segment and target? Did you know you can upload an email list of your very own donors and reach those individuals through display ads? (seriously – you can and it is awesome) If the answer is no, then you should consider getting some advice from the experts. Just as your nonprofit probably wouldn’t attempt to place your own billboard or might need an expert to help you shoot a good commercial, you should consider using a firm to create and place ads within the tool. We know what “success” looks like but, most importantly, we have the time to optimize and tweak the ads to make the best outcomes because that’s what you pay us to do.
How much should I spend on Facebook Advertising?
That all really depends on everything above. It also depends on how big or small of an audience you want to reach and how specific you need to get with your targeting. I’ve run super small one-off campaigns for $100 and incredibly complex campaigns costing tens of thousands a month. It all just really depends on your goals and your targets. The great thing about Facebook ads is that, for the most part, you get what you pay for. Want to reach every Facebook user in Chicago, aged 35-55, with household income of $100,000+ that works in manufacturing and has kids in high school? We can do that.
Curious about social advertising and how it could work for your organization? Send us an email or comment below. We will help get you started and you will see the difference a well-run campaign can make to your nonprofit’s mission.