Why nonprofits should consider Facebook advertising

Back in November, ActionSprout, a company designed to help nonprofits engage with supports on social media, teamed up with Facebook to offer free Facebook ad credits to nonprofits around the country. The application process was simple — enter your basic info and Facebook page and click “submit.” I was pretty sure it was a long shot, but what nonprofit communicator turns down a deal like that?


A few weeks later, I was notified that Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation had received $1,200 in free ad credits. No joke. Enter champagne emoji. These ad credits were to come in three chunks — $400/month for Dec., Jan. and Feb. Beyond that, there were very few restrictions — ActionSprout simply wanted to let us leverage the dollars to make the most impact.

Anybody working in nonprofit communications (and specifically with digital) will understand my glee. For comparison, as an organization, INHF had spent maybe $500 on Facebook promotions over the last three YEARS. I quickly set about planning, and here are some things I learned so far:

A little goes a long way

Compared to more traditional forms of advertising, Facebook ads are a steal, cost-wise. If your nonprofit engages in traditional promotion, I would strongly suggest working digital advertising into your communications budget. Not only do you get quantifiable reach and engagement numbers, even small campaign budgets can make a huge splash with the right targeting. $20 could do wonders for your digital presence.

Reaching new audiences

Almost every nonprofit struggles to reach specific audiences, whether it’s millennials, major donors or the communities they’re trying to help. The ad credits INHF received have let us target groups of people we don’t often reach. We’ve run a specific month-long campaign to garner page likes and engagement from 25-40 year olds. We’re bringing new people in — people we want to hear our message — and can now tailor content to engage them with our organization without it falling on nonexistent ears.

Involving other departments

Sometimes, when you come into a little bit of money, coworkers come out of the woodwork with their own digital desires — ideas for campaigns or content that they want to experiment with. Our development team tried formal year-end fundraising on Facebook for the first time. Our land projects department saw an opportunity to share the stories of some properties we’ve protected recently. We were able to boost policy initiatives to targeted audiences, encouraging them to contact legislators. Our whole team has gotten involved, and it’s been an amazing way to engage non-communicators in my job and passion.

How have you used Facebook ads to boost your communication? Leave your tips, stories or questions in the comment section.

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