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:


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.


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!


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


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.

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.


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.


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:


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:


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:


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.”