fundraising best practices

The Fundraising Best Practices We Learned from #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is quickly becoming one of the biggest giving days of the year! It was created just five years ago by the #GivingTuesday organization in response to the popular shopping days that happen at this time of year—Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2016 was the campaign’s fifth official year and the biggest one yet. According to Blackbaud, online giving was up by 20% since 2015, and 33% more nonprofit organizations received an online donation on #GivingTuesday when compared to 2015.

Let’s look at one nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday Facebook ad campaign and how your organization might recreate their level of success next year.

The Organization

Bob Brown Foundation is an environmental organization that campaigns for the protection of wildlife, marine ecosystems and scenic environments in Tasmania, Australia and across the region.

Campaign Goals

The goals of the campaign:

  • Grow awareness and support to stop the logging and destruction of the Tarkine rainforest.
  • Raise as much money as possible to support the campaign.
  • Raise more in donations than is spent in ad.

The Impact

  • 1,213 new Facebook Page likes

  • Total donations raised: $14,897 over ~24 hours

  • Total spent on Facebook ads: $1,730

  • “Profit”: $13,117

  • Conversion rate: 5.8%

  • Total Facebook shares: 12,404

  • Relevance score: 10/10

  • Cost per engagement: $0.15

These metrics tell us a few things about the Bob Brown Foundation’s #GivingTuesday ad. First, this ad resonated well with supporters. The fact that more than 12,000 Facebook shared The Foundation’s content in 24 hours shows that supporters care deeply about the issue that was spotlighted in the campaign—in fact, they care enough to share it with their own friends and family on Facebook! What’s more, 1,213 of the supporters who engaged cared enough to go on to like The Foundation’s Facebook Page. This is a clear signal that they want to see more content and opportunities to help from the Bob Brown Foundation.

Second, the content had a relevance score of 10/10 and a cost per engagement of 15 cents! If you’re new to Facebook advertising, let me explain how amazing this is. A relevance score of 10 is hard to achieve. As a new Facebook marketer, it can take months of hard work to get to a score of 10. Others will never achieve a 10. In addition, any cost per engagement under $1 is good. At 15 cents, this ad is killing it! Both of these numbers are Facebook’s way of telling you that your ad is excellent for the target audience that you’re serving it to.

Lastly, due to the high quality of the ad, they spent less in ad money than they raised in donations. In other words, they made a “profit”!

Campaign Creative

So what made this donation ad so successful and compelling to the supporters of the Bob Brown Foundation? Here is the donation appeal as it appeared on Facebook on #GivingTuesday:

bob-brown-giving-tuesday-ad

Notice the vivid image of forest destruction and the urgent call to action. Notice too that the ad is very clear and to the point. Skimming the ad, we immediately know what’s at stake and why we should click and learn more. This is especially important in the Facebook News Feed, as you only get one chance to grab your supporters’ attention and make them want to click!

Now let’s take a look at the donation landing page behind the ad.

First and foremost, the call to action and donation buttons are prominent at the top of the page.

bob-brown-givingtuesday-action

As we scroll down, we see more dramatic images of forest destruction and some easy-to-skim bullet points about what’s at stake. At the bottom of the page, we wrap up with a statement and image of what will happen to this rainforest if nothing is done. Talk about compelling!

bob-brown-givingtuesday-action-part-2

As a bonus, the donation form is fully mobile-optimized and takes advantage of Stripe’s fast and painless payment form:

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-11-28-26-am

Lessons and Takeaways

  1. First, understand what resonates with your supporters. Using the language, images and stories that most connect with them will greatly increase the reach and success of your campaign. Furthermore, it will lower your advertising costs on Facebook. If you’re not yet sure what resonates with your supporters the most, start tracking your successes and what they have in common. Soon enough, you should have a working framework on how best to communicate important issues to supporters.

  2. Create urgency. I don’t have to tell you that Facebook is a fast-moving platform! The problem with this is that if you don’t capture someone’s intention to help on the first try, then you won’t get a second chance. Therefore, it’s paramount that you express the need for immediate action clearly and up front. This headline is a perfect example of that: “Only 8 weeks to stop Tarkine rainforest destruction.”

  3. Create a clear, concise call to action. Don’t ever make your supporters have to wonder how they can help or what exactly you’re asking them to do. If possible, summarize your call to action in one or two sentences. If you cannot be this concise, you may need to rethink what you’re asking folks to do; you might be asking too much, or the action is too vague and requires too much of an explanation.

  4. Paint a clear picture of what’s at stake. Why should potential donors care or consider giving? In our example, both language and images are used to communicate what’s at stake. We see images of what the forest will become and the consequences of this: “If we don’t act now, this will be the last summer the eagles, owls, freshwater crayfish and other creatures spend in this rainforest home.” Give your donors something tangible to hang on to.

  5. Be mobile-friendly! If your donation forms are not mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on as much as half of your potential donors. This is especially true if you’re promoting your donation appeal on Facebook, as these days, the majority of Facebook browsing happens on a mobile device.

givingtuesday-eee-case-study

What we learned from #GivingTuesday 2016

All too often, smaller to medium-sized nonprofits don’t feel that they can participate in GivingTuesday in a meaningful way. They feel underprepared and out-resourced next to the larger national and international organizations that put out flashy GivingTuesday ad campaigns. Today, we’ll challenge that perception!

GivingTuesday isn’t just a day for large-scale nonprofits. Nor does it need to be solely about raising donations. Nonprofits, especially smaller one, can also use the day to draw attention to their organization and reach and engage new supporters. In this article, we will take quick look at how one small nonprofit not only had a successful GivingTuesday Facebook ad campaign, but also grew their Facebook Page overall.

The Organization

Epilepsy Education Everywhere (EEE) is on a mission to help people with epilepsy. Their mission is to educate the public about epilepsy — including the proper procedures when a seizure occurs. They also promote the historic progress of people with epilepsy, and encourage people with epilepsy to persevere.

Campaign Goals

Their GivingTuesday goals:

  • Raise at least $1,000.
  • Grow their Facebook Page overall.
  • Increase engagement and awareness for epilepsy.

The Impact

$475 raised through Facebook alone.

So who says you can’t raise money on Facebook as a small or medium nonprofit? Myth busted! The total GivingTuesday donations raised by EEE amounted to around $600. In other words, 79% of their GivingTuesday donations were raised, in some way, through Facebook. Not bad!

Their campaign was shared 2,522 times on Facebook.

This was a huge success. It means that 2,522 people cared enough about EEE’s mission that they felt compelled to share it with their own friends and family. Think about your sharing habits on Facebook: what do you share and why? Chances are, you only share the stuff you care about or that you feel your friends and family should see.

The EEE Facebook Page gained 438 new Facebook likes over the ~24 hours of GivingTuesday.

eee_where_the_likes_came_from

This was another huge success. To put this in perspective, EEE’s page has received ~25 new Page likes since GivingTuesday. This is much closer to their usual volume of new Page likes. If we do the math, that’s a 1,752% increase in Facebook Page likes due to their GivingTuesday ad campaign.

eee_net_likes

Again, this shows very real interest and engagement from supporters. The fact that people liked EEE’s page tells us that they wish to start receiving more content about epilepsy and ways to support EEE in the future. When the dust settled, these were the results:

eee-begins-using-actionsprout

It’s interesting to note that EEE started using ActionSprout in December 2015. Looking at the graph above, we see a sharp increase in Page likes after this month.

Cost of $0.59 per ad result.

This is another big win! A dollar per ad result is a common goal for many Facebook advertisers, but though this is an achievable goal, it still takes some elbow grease and expertise. In this ad campaign, we see a cost per result that is ~40% lower than the norm.

Campaign Creative

So, how did EEE earn results like this? First, let’s take a look at their Facebook ad:

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-3-04-12-pm

So, from the start, two things stand out right away:

  1. They used an image of a child making eye contact with us. Images of people and animals in which we can see their eyes make us pause and look. Our brains are wired this way!
  2. The headline is attention-grabbing and makes us want to click and learn more. (What do you mean my life could change in 4 minutes?)

Now lets look at the donation landing page:

img_1433

Notice that the call to action and donation buttons are prominent at the top of the page. Also notice that they introduced to the child in the image and tell us a bit about her story. Storytelling is still the most powerful and effective way to communicate information to one another. We also remember the information shared through storytelling for a longer period of time when compared to other kinds of communications.

But wait… it gets better. We even get a quote from the little girl’s mother—talk about an emotional connection! People are much more likely to take action when they feel something emotionally over strictly logical asks that require intense thought. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t back up your claims with logic and facts; just don’t forget to include the emotional connection as well.

Campaign Lessons & Takeaways

  1. First and foremost, understand what resonates with your supporters. Using the language, images and stories that most connect with them will greatly increase the reach and success of your campaign. Furthermore, it will lower your advertising costs on Facebook because people will share it with friends and help you reach people without spending a dime. If you’re not yet sure about what these things are, start tracking your successes and look for what they have in common. Soon enough, you will have a working framework for how best to communicate important issues to supporters.

  2. Leverage the power of storytelling to better connect with supporters and effectively communicate your mission. Storytelling is still one of the best vehicles to deliver information to people. Plus, they are more likely to remember information conveyed in this way for a longer period time.

  3. Make an emotional connection with supporters. Make them feel something. This will increase your likelihood of success.

  4. Paint a clear picture of what’s at stake. Why should potential donors care or consider giving? In this example, we know that giving will help others like Savannah: “Help us continue to help others like Savannah, along with educating the public about epilepsy with your support on #GivingTuesday.”

GIVING TUESDAY

November: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is the last part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday.

GivingTuesday is just 29 days away! Between now and then we’ll recap the most important points from the previous months. This will be a quick refresher to make sure you’re on your A-game all this month.

Let’s go!

Content curation

When we first got started all the way back in June, we introduced you to the strategy of content curation. We learned that organically increasing your reach and engagement on Facebook relies on two things:

  • Posting more. Two-to-three times a day, to be exact
  • Posting awesome, high-performing content

Content curation delivers on both of these. The strategy hinges on sharing the top content from similar pages on Facebook. This content is both relevant to your cause and something your audience would be interested in.

We showed you how to practice curation through both ActionSprout and Facebook, so hopefully you now have a curation system that works for you!

Analyzing and learning from your posts

Next, we taught you how to measure the success of your new content strategy. We showed you how to isolate your top performing posts by engagement and look for patterns of success. This strategy showed you what was working and thus what types of posts your supporters were interested in. By discovering these and posting more of them, you increased your chances of reaching and engaging supporters organically.

Remember to keep an eye on what’s working, as it can change over time. Keep looking for changing patterns in post content, format (videos, images, links) tone (negative, optimistic) and overall approach.

How to boost your best posts

At the end of the summer, we taught you that putting a little money behind your top performing posts would pay huge dividends!

  • Only boost what’s already receiving above average engagement on your page
  • A $5 to $10 daily budget is enough to see awesome results on your page
  • Use SmartAds to automate the process

This helped further boost the organic reach and engagement you started to foster through content curation.

Social actions

In the fall, we dived into social actions. Social actions are how we move passive Facebook likes into engaged, contactable, supporters. Remember to follow the STEP UP best practices when creating social actions:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 6.24.24 PM

Learning from our social actions

The following month we learned how to analyze our social actions for weak points, and how to fix them. Remember to compare post engagement, form views and completions against each other to find the weak points in your flow.

Post engagement is higher than form views

  • Double-check that your Facebook post includes a strong, clear, call to action
  • Make sure your call to action is urgent and triggers an emotional response to act right away. – If they feel like they can come back later you’ve lost them.
  • Is your call to action convincing? Plausible? Does it inspire?

Post engagement and views are about equal, but conversion rate is low

  • Is your form mobile optimized? Are you losing supporters who want to take action but cannot from their device?
  • Was the form confusing? Was it clear what they were being asked to do and how?
  • Did the form fail to move them to act? Could your language be stronger?

Conversion rate is high, but post engagement is low

Remember, this may not be an issue. Simply double-check the following:

Does your post have a strong call to action?

  • Looking at your post, would you know you needed to click and complete the form?
  • Is it clear what is being asked and why?
  • Is your call to action urgent and reasonable?

Is your image attention-grabbing?

  • Would your image make you stop scrolling through Facebook?
  • Does it grab attention and make you want to engage?
  • Have you tried testing different images?

Fundraising best practices

Lastly, we took our new insights and lessons from our social actions and combined them with fundraising best practices to create a killer #GivingTuesday call to action. Donate for change

Your supporters, no matter how loyal they are to your organization, are really donating to effect change on an issue they care about. Ask them to donate to the cause, not your particular organization.

“Chip in”

It’s been shown in some nonprofits tests that using the word ‘donate’ actually reduces donations. Try something like ‘chip in’ or ‘pitch in’.

Set a goal

Set targets for donations and outcomes achieved. Targets put perspective on your campaign. No matter how much or little someone gives, they know they are chipping away at the set goal. They can easily see that their donation had an impact.

Directed

It helps if the donation appeal is directed at a specific goal, e.g. keeping open a children’s hospital, saving a local park, passing legislation, etc.

Wrap up

Wow! We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last six months. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back!

Take the time this month to go back over what we’ve covered and strengthen any weak spots you may have. All these pieces will influence the success of your #GivingTuesday campaign come November 29th.

Best of luck!

GIVING TUESDAY

October: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday. If you haven’t read the first few guides in the series we strongly suggest you start there as the following guide will make more sense.

We’ve come a long way since June! To quickly recap our progress we’ve:

  1. Developed and implemented a content curation strategy
  2. Learned what to look for to measure the success of our posts
  3. Discovered how putting as little as $5 a day into Facebook ads can lead to big results
  4. Started engaging supporters on a deeper level with social actions

Hopefully all four of those wheels are still spinning. By now your Facebook page should be almost ready for your big #GivingTuesday campaign. This month, we’ll take a look at what we learned from playing with social actions last month, and combine it with donation best practices to create killer messaging around your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Learning from social actions

Analyzing the successes and failures of our social actions may feel a lot like the content analysis we covered back in July. Once again, we’ll be taking a look at social actions through the lense of the ActionSprout app, but the things we’ll cover apply to any action platform you use.

What metrics to look at

The three top metrics you’ll want to look at are:

  1. Engagement (Likes, comments, shares)
  2. Views
  3. Completion rate

action metrics

We’ll compare these metrics to each other to determine what parts of your flow are working (Facebook post, form, completion), and what’s not. This will help you pinpoint your weak spots and give you a chance to strengthen them before next month.

Scenario #1: Post engagement is higher than form views

You’re on the right track! Your post is doing its job (mostly).

You now know the subject, tone and format were correct because it caught people’s eyes, made them stop scrolling, and engaged them to the point where they felt compelled to leave a reaction, comment, or share. That was a tall order in and of itself!

The problem is, comparing this post engagement to your low number of form views tells us the post didn’t do a good enough job getting supporters to click.

There are two main possible reasons for this:

Unclear or missing call to action:

  1. Was it clear to supporters that they needed to click on the post and take some form of action?
  2. Was the language of your call to action clear?
  3. Did you have a call to action on the post at all?

Unconvincing / non-urgent call to action:

  1. Your call to action might have been clear and present, but was it urgent or convincing enough?
  2. Does your data show that supporters were interested in the topic, but they didn’t feel compelled to act?
  3. Can we make this stronger?

Scenario #2: Post engagement and views are about equal but conversion rate is low

Your post is rockin it! Not only did it make folks stop scrolling and pay attention, you compelled them to engage and investigate taking greater action by viewing your form. The problem is, very few of these folks actually went ahead and completed the action. You lead the horse to water but it didn’t drink.

What happened?

The form didn’t deliver what they expected

Make sure there isn’t a mis-match in what the post promised and what the form delivered. This mis-match is commonly called “click baiting.” It’s the practice of overselling or mis-communicating what the form will be once they land on it. Make sure your messaging and call to action are consistent between the post and the form.

The form messaging failed to move them to complete the action

The form itself wasn’t compelling enough. The petition language was weak, the final call to action was lackluster, or the pieces as a whole just didn’t come together. It’s important to keep your language strong throughout the process!

The form was confusing

Once supporters got to your form they became confused. The call to action no longer made sense. Did one call to action turn into multiple? Did sign the petition turn into sign and attend the event? Did the messaging around the call to action confuse the core ask?

The form was not mobile optimized

This one is the most painful! Your supporters wanted to complete the action but couldn’t because your form wasn’t mobile friendly! A super easy way to check this is simply bring the form up on your own phone. It’s also a good idea to ask a few colleagues to pull it up to double check different types of devices.

Scenario #3: Conversion rate is high but post engagement is low

Now, this may or may not be an issue you need to fix. Sometimes causes and particular supporters just don’t translate to high post engagement. They’re completing the action so the main goal is being accomplished!

However, we also don’t want to leave value on the table. Lower post engagement is an indication that the post could be stronger and pointing even more people to your form.

A few things to look at:

Does your post have a strong call to action?

  1. Looking at your post, would you know you needed to click and complete the form?
  2. Is it clear what is being asked and why?
  3. Is your call to action urgent and reasonable?

Is your image attention grabbing?

1.Would your image make you stop scrolling through Facebook? 2.Does it grab attention and make you want to engage? 3.Have you tried testing different images?

Combine these lessons with fundraising best practices

Hopefully you’ve now isolated some weak spots and found areas to improve upon. Now let’s take all that and rollin some fundraising best practices. There are a four main principles you’ll want to roll into your #GivingTuesday campaign. Donate for change

Your supporters, no matter how loyal they are to your organization, are really donating to effect change on an issue they care about. Ask them to donate to the cause, not your particular organization.

“Chip in”

It’s been shown in some nonprofits tests that using the word ‘donate’ actually reduces donations. Try something like ‘chip in’ or ‘pitch in’.

Set a goal

Set targets for donations and outcomes achieved. Targets put your campaign in perspective. No matter how much or little someone gives, they know they are chipping away at the set goal. They can easily see that their donation had an impact.

Directed

It helps if the donation appeal is directed at a specific goal, e.g. keeping open a children’s hospital, saving a local park, passing legislation, etc.

Wrap up

That was a long one! Be sure to take the time this month to go back through your social actions from last month, learn what you can and combine that with the outlined fundraising best practices. This should leave you with a killer donation ask for #GivingTuesday.

Next month’s post will be a recap and checklist of all the material we’ve covered up to this point.

following up with donors

The importance of following up with donors

What does your donation cycle look like? Does it end when folks donate? Or do you follow-up and begin to build a long-term donor relationship?

Following-up isn’t the end of a Donor Cultivation Cycle…but perhaps the true beginning.

That said, in this article we’re focusing on nothing else but the follow-up, and how nonprofit social media masters and page managers can leverage the full power of their Facebook action takers and donators.

The 5 Truths of Following Up

  1. Follow-ups are as important as the ask itself and call-to-action, so give them due respect.
  2. Folks followed-up with are more likely to continue supporting your cause turning them into long time supporters.
  3. Donations and support actions aren’t one-off things.
  4. Showcase support and the progress made thanks to contributions.
  5. Even a smidgen of personalization goes a looong ways! Include their name!

It’s too easy to let the digital divide hide our true humanity throughout this whole process.

The people on the other side of the screen are part of your team, and without them your mission wouldn’t have the same reach.

Denise McMahan spells it out this way:

“Many fundraisers don’t realize that the preparation for and conducting the Ask is 25 percent of the process and follow-up is 75 percent!”

Donators have already given, so asking for more without first giving them something in return is pushing the envelope…and rude.

The Art of the Thank you

However you decide to follow-up with supporters make sure to hand-tailor it!

Your follow-up should do these things is a positive, upbeat, and jovial way:

  • Genuinely and authentically thank the person for their act of generosity.
  • Put their choice and the ongoing (in-play) results on a pedestal.
  • Send additional value-heavy info, or requested data about your cause.

In short, treat them as you would treat the team member sitting beside you. They’re now a part of the fold; the tribe; the clan…

Follow-ups aren’t marketing letters. They’re not brochures. They’re not sales-speak. They’re not an opportunity to get more, and more, and more from superficial vapid ‘profiles’ on the internet.

Allison Gauss paints a clear picture:

“Thanking donors isn’t just the polite thing to do, it’s the smart thing. One of the top reasons donors gave when asked why they stopped donating was that they were never thanked for their previous gift. At the very least, every donor should receive a thank you email, which can be easily automated and segmented.”

Let that sink in for a minute. One of the top reasons donors stopped donating was because they were never thanked for their support. Not following up with folks, and simply thanking, them is literally costing you money in lost donations.

That’s why it’s so important to follow-up and thank folks! Make sure it’s genuine, authentic and personal!

Gauss goes on to say:

“As stressful and time-consuming as a fundraiser can be, it can be tempting to simply move on when the deadline arrives. But if you’re not connecting with your community and learning from your results, you are missing out.”

By all means be systematic, strategic, and coordinated with your donor and supporter cultivation efforts. But, don’t lose that sincere human aptitude to show appreciate and follow through with people who have done you and your nonprofit cause a pure good.

GIVING TUESDAY

September: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday. If you haven’t read the first few guides in the series we strongly suggest you start there as this guide will make more sense.

Last month, we covered how to use Facebook ads with a light touch, to give your page a little extra boost before November. This month, we want to move from passive engagement to active engagement with your cause. This will move more of your supporters to a place where they are likely to donate on #GivingTuesday.

What we’re covering this month will draw heavily on the engagement ladder concept. If you’re not familiar with the concept, we’d encourage you to check it out. It’s not necessary to be successful this month, but a lot of this will make more sense with further context 🙂

Note: This month’s activities will require outside tools beyond Facebook.

Introduction to social actions

Social actions are any calls to action that encourages increased engagement in your cause from supporters. Social actions can range from polls, to petitions, to donation appeals. The key here is to meet your supporters where they’re at, without asking them to do anything they’re not ready for. Thus, with donation appeals being on the heavy side of things, we’ll want to start working up to that right now, well-before November.

It’s absolutely possible that your Facebook supporters are already at the donation level. This process will help you discover where your supporters stand before November.

For our purposes here, we’re only going to show you how to do this through the ActionSprout interface. If you’re using a different platform or host similar appeals on your website, the following principles will still apply.

There are three big “Weights” of social actions:

  1. Lightweight actions: directly build on the social experience of Facebook (Polls, questions, Sproutlets)
  2. Medium weight actions: directly tie back to your cause (Petitions, pledges, letters)
  3. Heavyweight actions: take supporters to the next level of engagement with your cause (donation appeals, event attendance, volunteering)

This month we’ll dive into buckets one and two. (We’ll get to bucket three in November!)

Crafting a social action

We use the word “crafting” on purpose. Creating a successful social action is a blend of art and science. We’ll cover the “science” portion here by sharing with you the best practices we’ve learned through our own data and experience. The “art” portion will come later as you try this for yourself.

Every Facebook page has a unique cause and a unique audience. As such, not even the most agreed-upon best practices will work for 100% of nonprofits, 100% of the time. Instead, start with best practices and test them on your audience. Did they work? How well? How can you tweak them for even better results? Through some trial and error you’ll find what works for your unique audience.

With that being said, STEP UP is how we remember our formula for the best social actions:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 6.24.24 PM

Sharable:

Your supporters on Facebook are keenly aware that everything they do on the site is public. As such, they work carefully to sculpt their profile and activities on the site to create the persona they wish to display for the world. This practice governs whether they will engage with or share your content. As such, we like to say that your social actions should do two jobs:

  1. Serve your cause.
  2. Make your supporters look awesome doing it!

For example, if your supporters shared your social action (and gave you free reach!) would it reflect positively on them? Would it make them look awesome to their friends and family?

Targeted:

Your call to action needs to be easy to understand. There should be no question what you’re asking supporters to do and why. What’s the issue at hand? Who’s the petition directed at? In short, spell out what actions they need to take and what will happen when they do.

Emotional:

Supporters are more likely to act when they feel an emotional response, whether positive or negative. As such, the most successful social actions trigger an emotion in the supporter.

Personal:

Answer the question, “so what?” Why should your supporters care about this? Why should they engage? How will it affect them personally? Your messaging and call to action should address these questions.

Urgent:

If a supporter feels like they can come back to the action later, you’ve lost them. They are not coming back. Your goal is to make supporters stop scrolling through the news feed, pay attention, and take action. Now.

Possible:

Your social action must be believable. If it’s too outlandish, folks will think it’s a joke. If it’s overly optimistic, folks will view it as a pipe dream and give up before they’ve even started. Your call to action should aim for a reasonable change. If a supporter completes your action there should be a reasonable chance of real change.

Example: “Join to end world hunger” vs “Pitch in $10 to put a hot meal on a local family’s table tonight.”

See the difference?

Wrap up

Try a few lightweight to medium weight social actions this month and record what you learn along the way. We’ll use these lessons next month as we develop the language around your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Hint: A great place to start, if you’re unsure, is with successful past campaigns or topics your supporters are currently talking about.

GIVING TUESDAY

August: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday. If you haven’t read the first two guides in the series, we strongly suggest that you start there, as the following guide will then make more sense. Here is June and July.

Last time, we discussed how to measure the success of your Facebook posts and thus the success of your new content strategy. Hopefully, you’ve used the tips given last time to gain some new learnings and insights into your supporters and what kinds of posts they enjoy the most. Even better if you’ve started applying these learnings to your ongoing content curation!

This month, we want to show you how to put a little ad money behind your posts to give your Page a little boost.

Before you click the back button because you have no budget for ads, keep reading!

If your nonprofit has absolutely no budget for Facebook advertising, please review our guide on comment management this month instead. Properly managing and responding to comments is one of the most important things that you can do on Facebook. It will also influence the success of your #GivingTuesday campaign as you’re building up relationships with folks who may be your new donors come November.

Boosting Your (Best) Posts

Today, we’re only going to talk about putting ad money behind your most successful posts. This may feel counterintuitive, but hang in there with us!

In a nutshell, Facebook has an algorithm that governs a user’s unique News Feed, and an algorithm that decides where ads will be placed in their News Feed. While these two algorithms are different, there is enough overlap to use success in the News Feed as an indicator that something will also perform well as an ad.

Performing well as an ad means a lower cost per result and reaching more of your intended audience. Following this rule of thumb means that you can pay as little as $5 to $10 a day and still receive great results. Or if you don’t have the budget for daily ads, many organizations spend as little as $20 a month for very similar results. It all depends on what works best for you and your budget.

To tease out which posts are high-performing and should be boosted with ad money, use the same methods that we covered last month when evaluating your posts and finding the high-performing ones to learn from. (We said that this could be done through ActionSprout’s Timeline feature or Facebook Insights.)

Once you have your high-performing posts, you have two options to boost.

SmartAds

If you have an ActionSprout account, you can turn on the SmartAds tool inside your account and have the process above happen automatically on Facebook for you! SmartAds is designed to find your top-performing posts and automatically put money behind them. Simply connect the ad account that you wish to use and your monthly budget. If you’re aiming for $5 a day, like discussed above, that would be a monthly budget of $150. Otherwise, find the budget that works for you.

Facebook Ads Manager

You can also manually perform the above through your Facebook Ads Manager.

When asked which type of ad you wish to create, simply select “Boost your posts”:

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You’ll be asked to fill in your budget and your target audience (whom you’d like your post to reach). Again, a budget as little as $5 a day can lead to great results when boosting high-performing posts:

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You also have the option to set a lifetime budget.

Next, simply find the post that you’d like to boost. First, you’ll select the Facebook Page that the post appears on and then a list of that Page’s posts:

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Note: If you need further help with Facebook advertising, please see Facebook’s full documentation and their help on post ads in particular.

Wrap-Up

While running advertisements, it’s more important than ever to be practicing content curation (posting high-performing content two to three times a day). Running any kind of advertising means that you’re reaching more people on Facebook, and naturally, more of these people will like your Page. (Even if you’re not running Page-like ads.) With all these new folks coming in, you’ll want to make sure that you hook them right away with awesome content so that they stick around and become engaged supporters.

As you can already see, each month is building on previous months. As such, it’s important to keep up with the activities that we address each time so that the coming months can be as productive as possible.

GIVING TUESDAY

July: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday. If you haven’t read the first guide in the series, we strongly suggest that you start there, as the following guide will then make more sense.

Last time, we discussed the strategy of content curation and how to practice it through both ActionSprout as well as directly through Facebook. Hopefully, you’ve gotten into the swing of things and are nearing two to three posts a day on average. (If you’re already there, even better!)

This month, we want to show you how to measure the success of your new content strategy and a few ways to optimize it further.

Post Metrics

If you’ve ever opened the Insights tab on your Facebook Page, you’ll know that there are a lot of post metrics available to you. If you’re a data nerd and haven’t been down the rabbit hole that is Facebook Insights, I would highly recommend it. The rest of us will only need to look at one piece of data to decide if our new content strategy needs tweaking or not.

Engagement

The number one thing you want to look at is the engagement on your posts. To do this, take a post; sum up the number of likes, comments and shares on that post; and compare that sum to the engagement on your other posts.

If you have a good chunk of highly engaging posts on your Page, great job! You’ve figured out what your supporters like and have given it to them. If not, don’t worry. The next section will show you how to look for patterns to increase the number of highly engaging posts on your Page.

Content and Format

Once you have your top-performing posts in front of you, take a look at the content and format of these posts. Do these posts have anything in common with each other? Do they tend to be images, videos or links? Do they tend to be positive or negative? What topics do they tend to lean toward?

Look for these patterns and tally up the results. This will tell you what your audience enjoys the most in terms of content and format. Maybe your audience likes videos on clean energy the most. Maybe it’s links to articles on non-GMO foods. Figure out what’s true for your audience and try to post more of that type of content. You’ll most likely not find one pattern but a few to play with.

Using Your ActionSprout Timeline

The ActionSprout tool will do the above calculations for you. Simply navigate to the Timeline tab in your account to view all your posts. Click on the Trending tab on the left to isolate your top-performing posts. These are the ones that we’ll want to take a look at.

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Looking at your over-performing posts; what patterns like the above do you notice?

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Bonus: At the top of Timeline, you’ll find three additional metrics that will show you the overall health of your Facebook Page:

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You’ll want posts per week to be 15 or more, the fan engagement score to be 50 or more, and people engaged per post to be the highest that it can be.

Using Facebook Insights

If you choose to do this through Facebook alone, you’ll need to approximate some of the above calculations or export your Facebook Insights data and perform the calculations in a spreadsheet. For our purposes here, we’ll show you how to perform the approximations.

From your Facebook Page, click the Insights tab at the top and then Posts:

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From here, choose to display posts by raw reactions, comment and share numbers, or by engagement rate. Either one will give you the same idea and point you in the same direction:

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Once displayed, you’ll want to browse through your highest performing posts and look for the patterns mentioned above.

Wrap-Up

That’s your assignment for the next month. Pay attention to your engagement numbers and what content patterns are emerging. Once you start to have a handle on these patterns, let these findings influence the content that you post going forward. The more you post the types of content that your supporters like, the more organic reach and engagement your Page will earn.

Pro tip: If you find one content type is clearly winning out another on your Page, try filtering your Inspiration feed by that content type to post more of it.

facebook fundraising

Local nonprofit finds success in Facebook fundraising

Facebook can be a powerful platform for fundraising and social good. Here’s how one local nonprofit ran a successful fundraising campaign on Facebook — and found a puppy a new family!

Lifeline Puppy Rescue

Meet Lifeline Puppy Rescue, a Colorado no-kill puppy rescue that saves puppies under 12 weeks old from shelters or other rescuers that are not adequately prepared to care for or find proper homes for puppies. Recently, they launched a donation campaign on Facebook to help pay for the rescue and care of Charley the puppy.

Campaign Goals

Charley, the puppy, was transferred into Lifeline’s care with two hip fractures. They launched a campaign to help cover Charley’s medical expenses, which totaled $1,200. Lifeline’s secondary campaign goal was to find Charley a new family.

Key Campaign Stats

“Overall the campaign was successful! Not only did we reach our goal in under 24 hours, but as soon as Charley went up for adoption he found a new family! The biggest donation to the campaign came from a volunteer who ended up fostering Charley. As soon as the campaign launched on Facebook, they immediately donated $300.”

  • Two Facebook posts asking for donations
  • 7745 people reached
  • 169 post shares
  • 254 clickthroughs to the donation action
  • 24 donations ($1,145) raised through ActionSprout
  • $250 raised elsewhere

Approach

Before Lifeline launched the campaign on Facebook, Charley had been in their care for about a week. During this time, many of their closest contributors, staff members, and volunteers had met little Charley. They started by promoting his story to this “inner circle” of their most engaged friends, in hopes that they would see the post on Facebook and be more inclined to share/help as they had a personal connection with Charley.

Lifeline originally had a different plan to promote this campaign on Facebook; however, the initial surge of donations exceeded their expectations and caused them to change plans. Instead, they only posted twice asking for donations: once the night before he went into surgery, and an update after he came out of surgery, which asked for donations.

“We were strategic about the time and content of our post. We originally planned on posting six times over the course of two weeks to reach our $1,200 goal. Since we reached our goal in under 24 hours, we decided to switch the focus and begin thanking contributors and looking for a family for Charley. He spent two more weeks recovering, and we posted two more times about him. These two posts were about his progress, thanking everyone, and letting people know when he would go up for adoption. The final post was letting everyone know he found a new home!”

Campaign Creative

“Charley was a very rambunctious puppy, and we wish we could’ve gotten a better photo of him!”

Here’s a detailed look at all of the campaign creative elements:

Charley’s pre-surgery post

  • Sets a clear, realistic goal
  • Asks for a small, manageable gift of $10
  • Cute, engaging image of Charley’s face makes supporters stop scrolling and pay attention
  • Includes a large, clear call to action: “Will you help Charley?”
  • Connects readers to the cause through the power of storytelling

Charley’s post-surgery post

  • Includes progress towards goal
  • Uses optimistic and uplifting language
  • Cute, engaging image of Charley’s face makes supporters stop scrolling and pay attention
  • Includes a large, clear call to action: “Will you help Charley”
  • Asks for a small, manageable gift of $10

Charley’s donation page

  • Goal bar to show progress against their goal
  • Stripe integration offers a quick, mobile-optimized donation experience
  • Connects readers to the cause through the power of storytelling

Campaign Lessons and Takeaways

“We were very happy with the tools that ActionSprout offered. Our contributors love to see how many people have helped, how much more help is still needed, and then able to contribute themselves quickly… We learned not to directly asked for donations, however; it’s better to start out in a more subtle way of explaining the story and at the end ask for a small donation or help.”

  • Take advantage of engaging images and storytelling to pull potential supporters in.
  • Be clear with supporters about your goal for the campaign and tie it to concrete results.
  • Keep supporters in the loop as the campaign progresses.
  • Make sure that your donation pages are optimized for Facebook and mobile devices. Through the use of an ActionSprout donation action and Stripe payments, Lifeline made giving fast and easy from any device.

Learn more about fundraising on Facebook.

GIVING TUESDAY

Introduction and June Strategy

With six months to go, you’re probably not thinking about #GivingTuesday just yet. But if you plan on taking full advantage of the day, you’ll want to start preparing now. With such a huge event on the horizon, putting in some time and effort now will pay off greatly when the day comes.

Setting the Foundation on Facebook

Facebook is the most used platform on #GivingTuesday. As such, you’ll want to ensure that your Facebook Page and audience are ready for the big day. You might be wondering, “How would my Facebook Page not be ready? What exactly is there to get ready? Won’t I just post the campaign link to Facebook on the day?”

But as with most things in life, it’s not that simple!

In a nutshell, you’ll want to start priming your Facebook Page and audience now so that when you do post your #GivingTuesday campaign, it reaches and engages as many people as possible. Thus, your fundraising campaigns are more likely to be successful!

With each passing day, Facebook becomes a noisier place. More users join the network and more Pages are created. This is awesome for nonprofits, as their pool of potential supporters is increasing each day! The problem is that it also becomes harder to cut through this noise. This means that organic reach and engagement begin to decline for any piece of content that isn’t engaging.

The good news is that there are steps you can take now to increase your organic reach and engagement before November 29th. You’ll want your organic reach and engagement to be as high as possible for your campaign to be successful in raising donations. After all, it’s hard to raise donations from supporters that you cannot reach!

Now you may be thinking that none of this applies to you, because you’ll be using Facebook advertising to push out your campaign. But even with Facebook advertising, you’ll want to take these steps. The News Feed algorithm and ads algorithm are different, but there is enough overlap to increase organic reach and engagement, boost the success of your ads, and make them cheaper to boot!

Between now and November 29th, we’ll work to do just this. Improving your organic reach and engagement is possible and it does take time, but we have time on our side… so let’s get to work!

Introduction to Content Curation

The way we’re going to organically boost your reach and engagement is through a strategy called “content curation,” which uses two important yet simple tactics to increase reach and engagement on Facebook:

  • Post more—two to three times a day, to be exact.
  • Post awesome, high-performing content.

Content curation delivers on both of these. The strategy hinges on sharing the top content from other Pages on Facebook. This is content relevant to your Page and cause, and is something that your audience would be interested in.

We know that this strategy feels very counterintuitive. This article explains why it works and how it’s not as bad as it feels. Simply put, sharing each other’s content on Facebook is normal, it’s expected, and is not in any way stealing or plagiarism. Facebook is not a traditional platform and thus doesn’t follow traditional rules.

Okay, let’s get down to work. How do you actually practice content curation?

Through ActionSprout

The easiest way to do this is through the ActionSprout tool. In the Inspiration tab of your account, you’ll be able to follow the top Pages in your space, scroll through their best content, and schedule these posts for the times when most of your supporters are on Facebook.

To start, follow the best Facebook Pages for your cause. These can be the large national and international organizations, news outlets and blogs that cover your cause, other nonprofits and Pages you’re aware of that cover your cause, or any fellow partners and chapters. Or you can simply search for keywords. Once your Inspiration feed is filled with content, start browsing the posts and see which ones you can re-share on your Page. Which stories would your audience enjoy? Which posts relate to your cause and Page? Remember, you want to shoot for two to three a day.

Use the Smart Scheduler tool to post at the times when your audience is on Facebook.

Through Facebook

Practicing content curation through Facebook is a bit more challenging, but it is possible:

  1. To get started, “like” the same types of Pages outlined above as your Page. Note: following pages as your page through Facebook is public data.

  2. Once you’ve liked the Pages you wish to follow, switch to timeline view as your Page to view their posts.

  3. When browsing these posts, look for the factors above as well as the engagement on each post. Facebook will be giving you all of these Pages’ raw posts. Unlike the Inspiration tool, which will pick out only the best posts, you’ll need to manually do this as you browse. You’ll only be able to view the likes, comments and shares on the posts, but that’s enough to provide a rule of thumb.

  4. Once you have the posts you’d like to re-share on your Page, you have the option to click the share button on the post and share it right then, or you can copy the link, image, video, etc. and manually recreate the post on your Page. This will allow you to schedule out the post for a later time/day.

  5. When scheduling a post, first confirm with your Page Insights when your audience is on Facebook and thus when the post should be scheduled.

The above can also be done through the use of Facebook’s interest lists. The same principles will apply.

Wrap-Up

That’s your assignment for the month! It may seem like a lot at first, but once you lay the groundwork of following the right Pages, and getting in the habit of reviewing these posts and scheduling the best ones, it won’t take you much time at all. Some nonprofits even use this strategy to schedule content for the whole week in 30 minutes or less!

Believe us, it can be done. Have fun diving into content curation and we’ll see you next month!