min read

The Digital Landscape

Social media icons that may be used during digital marketing efforts

In a digital world, we know being visible on social media is important.

With 2.32 billion monthly users on Facebook and 500 million users on LinkedIn, a majority of your audience is likely online. Beyond increasing general visibility for your organization, you can use social media to increase your fundraising numbers and engage donors online.

Check out our post 5 Ways to Maximize Your Campaign Fundraising with Social Media for tips on laying the foundation of your social media presence.

A Case for Social Ads

Nearly all organizations are on social media, but are posts reaching their intended audiences?

Ever-changing algorithms have made it more difficult for organizations to get content in front of their communities. AdWeek reported the average Facebook Page only reaches 2.6% of its fans through “organic reach.” This statistic is staggering, knowing that so many individuals use social media to keep up to date on the news, their friends, and organizations.

If you are trying to meet your audience where they are, online, how are you supposed to get updates to your community if they aren’t organically seeing posts?

Facebook, and more recently LinkedIn, have added advertising features to their services for businesses, allowing organizations to ensure more of their audience is exposed to their content. While other social networking sites also offer this functionality, we’ll focus on these two.

Social ads can help expand your network by exposing new constituents to your content, or encourage you current followers to take action. U.S. customers see a 6.1% average conversion rate on LinkedIn ads, an impressive fact compared to the average fundraising email conversion rate of .06%.

Using Facebook and LinkedIn ads can help your organization stand out and drive engagement.

Leveraging Social Ads for Your Organization

icon image of a megaphone suggesting that your digital marketing message needs to be shouted to the world

So you have decided social ads are worth giving a try, but what does that actually entail? You will need to consider the following four key elements before hitting “go”:

  1. Purpose
  2. Target
  3. Spend
  4. Content

The purpose of the ad

The first and most important consideration before creating your digital ad is to determine why you are creating this campaign. What is the end result you are hoping for? This could be to increase knowledge about an upcoming Giving Day, to secure more donations for a crowdfunding campaign, or to steward your donors in a new way.

Depending on what you are hoping to achieve, you will assemble your ad in a different manner. Awareness campaigns may not look the same as one aiming to drive conversions. By determining the purpose of the ad, you can be more strategic with your investment.

Who you are targeting

Once you have determined the purpose of your ad, it’s time to build your outreach list.

One of the exciting things about social media ads is that you are able to target your audience like never before, including those individuals you are already communicating with, as well as new people.

Facebook allows users to target an audience based on an uploaded list of email addresses, or cast a wider net with the following audience considerations:

  • Location
  • Demographics
  • Behavior
  • Connections
  • Interests

LinkedIn focuses on provided profile information, allowing you to choose your audience based on similar elements as Facebook, including:

  • Job experience
  • Company
  • Education
  • Demographics
  • Interests

Fundraisers can use these specifications to create a curated list with the best prospects. Let’s take a look at two hypothetical campaigns and how a list could be created. The possibilities are endless!

Campaign: Save the Sea Otters

Target audience for Facebook ad: List of past donors to the sea otter project, people who “like” the Monterey Bay Aquarium, followers of the Facebook page

Campaign: Mock Trial student group crowdfunding campaign

Target audience for LinkedIn: alumni of the institution with a degree in business or law, alumni that have a job title of “lawyer”


Now that you know who you want to reach out to, it will be easier to decide what content to share with your audience.Hubspot makes four recommendations on social ads to see the most bang for your buck:

  1. Make sure it’s visual – images are memorable and more favorable in social media platform algorithms as opposed to copy alone.
  2. Keep it relevant – your visuals, written content, and destination page should be cohesive and relevant to your audience. It should be clear why they are being served this ad.
  3. Include an interesting value proposition – set yourself apart by showing your audience why what you are doing matters, and why they should help you.
  4. Have a clear call to action – tell your audience what you want them to do! Make it actionable and urgent to drive results.

How much you want to spend

The final considerations for your campaign are how much you want to spend and how long to run the ads for. Facebook has a very straightforward pricing model, allowing you to set the amount you want to spend and the duration of the campaign. Once you select these options, an expected audience reach will be calculated.

LinkedIn has a slightly more in-depth pricing model. First you will determine a total budget, daily budget, or bid amount. Next, you’ll choose whether you want to pay per click, impressions, or send.

For full tutorials on account set-ups and logistics, you can check out the resources on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Putting it All Together

image of puzzle pieces all coming together as a metaphor for digital fundraising working with other efforts

You have your compelling visuals, descriptive content, and clear call-to-action in your post, scheduled to run for the next month. Time to press go and call it good on your fundraising activities over the next 30 days? Not so fast.

While social ads can be a key piece of your fundraising strategy, they’re just that: a piece.

Relying on social media ads alone will not lead to unlimited riches for your organization. Ads will be a great way to reach a different part of your audience and increase exposure, but will only work as part of the symphony of fundraising activities.

Use this channel to compliment the rest of the work you do, such as sending a direct mail piece and running a similar looking social ad for the same audience. Allow the pieces to work together for maximum results.

With clear performance metrics on the different platforms, you have the ability to see the impact of your content. Test what resonates most with your audience. Try splitting your outreach list and try two different photos or calls to action. There is room for trial and error to easily hone in on the content that works best for your community.

Check out some of these examples for inspiration on your next social ad campaign.

Katie Haystead

Katie Haystead

Senior Vice President, Partnerships

With over a decade of experience working with K12 schools and higher education institutions’ fundraising efforts, Katie Haystead now oversees the partnerships team at Community Funded. Her passion for partner success and satisfaction aligns with Community Funded’s priorities and Katie’s unique background is well suited to manage the day to day operations of our partnerships team as well as new market acquisition.

Prior to joining the team at Community Funded, Katie served many roles within the Fundraising Division at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Her experience ranges from working onsite and remotely with clients executing phonathon programs, developing annual giving strategies, onsite consultations and also developing multichannel strategies allowing for strong synergy between annual giving channels and creating strong major and planned gift pipelines.

Katie is based in Metro Detroit and is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she worked for the phonathon for 3 years while working towards her History Major.

Kim Jennings

Kim Jennings

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Kim Jennings, CFRE is a skilled fundraising leader who believes in the power of Christian education to raise up thoughtful, strong, committed leaders who can make our world a better place for all.

Kim Jennings

Todd Turner

Director of Digital Strategies, Generis

In addition to his 11 years overseeing Chuck Swindoll’s Insight Living Ministries communications department, Todd Turner has worked as a digital strategist for faith based organizations across the globe..

Kim Jennings

Jennifer Perrow

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Jennifer is a skilled fundraising and communications professional who helps ministries articulate vision, communicate mission, and raise abundant funds to advance Kingdom priorities.