6 Paid Social Media Benefits Your Non-Profit Should Take Advantage of

By Ansley Jackson in Non-Profit on September 16th, 2015

In the social media landscape today, organic posts are not reaching as many followers as you may think. With only 2% of your fans seeing your organic posts on Facebook, investing in paid social media campaigns is well worth the visibility you will achieve. Regardless of how big or small your non-profit’s media budget is, you should strongly consider allocating some budget to paid social on a consistent basis. Whether your objectives include audience engagement, driving donations or event sign ups, here are six ways paid social marketing will help achieve your organization’s goals.

paid social nonprofit

1. Expand your target audience(s).

Paid social can help you reach a much larger audience as well as target various audience segments, while allowing for creative testing against these different audiences.  Specifically on Facebook, advertisers can utilize Audience Insights to compare audiences across Facebook, look at audiences who are connected to your organization’s page and even create custom audiences by honing in on demographics, geography, device usage, Facebook behaviors and lifestyle characteristics.

2. Create Custom Audiences & Lookalikes!

Being able to create lookalike audiences on Facebook and Twitter is another key advantage of paid social, as it allows you to create audiences that look like your current or past donors/fans/followers and reach more people with a propensity to give.  First, you need to create a custom audience based on your CRM lists, which can include current donors, prospects, and more. Then, you can target those users within that custom audience specifically, and/or create look-a-likes based on those users. By creating lookalike audiences, you are not only reaching the users from your CRM list but also broadening your audience to include users similar to those included in the list.

Additionally, by creating separate audiences for users who have donated to your organization in the past versus those who began the donation process but did not complete it, you are able to customize messages based on where the users are in the conversion funnel. Website retargeting (targeting past site visitors that began the donation process but abandoned) is a highly effective tactic for driving donations.  The more targeted the messaging is for each audience, the better the results.  

3. Customize ad types for each of your goals.

Facebook and Twitter both offer various ad types to address each of your goals, from community growth to website conversions and email sign ups.

For driving donations and on-site actions, non-profits should utilize the Website Clicks or Conversions ad types.  These ads take up larger real estate within users’ feeds and include a call to action, such as “donate,” “learn more,” and “sign up now.”


4. Leverage multiple social channels.

Recently, Pinterest and Instagram have also entered the paid social arena with promoted pins and sponsored posts. Non-profits should consider testing paid social on these channels if their target audience aligns.

Pinterest offers nonprofits the ability to target a predominantly female audience, typically ages 18-49.  The platform recently opened up their ad interface to all brands, and advertisers can simply choose an objective (website traffic or pin engagement), select an optimized pin, set up the keyword and demographic targeting, pay on a CPC basis and track the results. As a best practice, the tracking should be ongoing as the campaign runs in order to optimize performance.

PinterestImage courtesy of Pinterest

Instagram advertising has also recently been opened up to all brands through Facebook ads manager as well as select partners. Through the Facebook interface, current Instagram ad types offered include website clicks and app install ads; these will  likely continue to evolve as more marketing partners and agencies receive access. Probably the biggest benefit of Instagram is the ability to leverage all of Facebook's granular targeting capabilities. 

5. Utilize CTA buttons.

Facebook recently introduced “Donate Now” as a call-to-action option button on ads, making it easier than ever for nonprofits to encourage their audience to contribute to their cause. Organizations can add the button to their page, as well as including the button in ads to increase visibility. A “Donate” call-to-action is also available on Twitter ads.

Additionally, non-profits can also raise more money with merchandise sales on social media, selling t-shirts, toys or even event tickets, using the “Buy Now” button. Instead of viewing an ad and then driving to the website to complete the purchase, users can convert directly on the platform. With less hassle to buy these fundraising items, social media users are more likely to complete the purchase. As of September 2015, in addition to Facebook and Twitter, buyable pins have started rolling out to all advertisers on Pinterest as well as the “Shop Now” button on Instagram, providing advertisers with access to reach their audience with direct-response ads across various social platforms.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

6. Consider video ads.

As social media content becomes more visual and more users are viewing videos on social media platforms other than YouTube, video ads are becoming increasingly more important to incorporate in all social media strategies. By the end of 2015, marketers are expected to spend over $7 billion on digital video ads in the United States alone.  Non-profits can use video ads in various ways to help spark awareness and increase donations. Whether you’re building awareness by informing a new audience about your mission or attempting to start a viral video donation campaign, video ads give you more space to tell your story in a much more entertaining and engaging way.  Granular targeting capabilities are also available for video ads, allowing marketers to better target to likely donors/supporters.

Your visibility is not only dependent on what you are doing but also on the competitive landscape. Organizations are increasing their social media spend and platforms are continuing to improve their targeting capabilities. To ensure you are getting the word out about your organization’s work and impact, driving donations, and increasing awareness, allocate ongoing budget for paid social.

As a best practice, you should still be posting organically on your social media channels regularly, and choose the most engaging posts to boost to your current fans/followers. Additionally, monitoring all channels can inform you on what your current supporters, potential supporters are interested in.  

In order to cast a wider net on social media and increase your opportunity for engaging your intended audiences, include paid social in your next campaign.  


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