Who sees what and why on Facebook

Nonprofits on Facebook have a mission. You want to reach and engage hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day. You’re also on a tight budget, and have real urgency behind your message.

You may think that Facebook is working against you achieving your goal. We’ve heard the complaints: suppressed reach, no free ad dollars, blocking posts unless you pay. Sound familiar?

This post will clear up these misunderstandings. Simply put, it’ll help you reach more people for free on Facebook.

Let’s get this learning started!

Page Likes and Page Follows

There’s a difference between page Likes and Follows. Your supporters can Like you or Follow you — or both. The difference is showing their public support (Liking) vs. receiving posts in their feeds (Following).

When you first Like a page, you will also be Following it by default. Following a page means you’ll receive their posts in your news feed.

In the example above, Steve’s support for ActionSprout is private for he hasn’t Liked the page. But he still receives our posts in his news feed because he is Following the page. Anyone can choose to both Like and Follow a page, or opt for just one or the other.

What happens to page posts

You’ve likely noticed that not all of your page followers see all of your posts. Facebook delivers your posts to the people who follow you first, but chooses a subgroup of your fans it thinks will enjoy the post the most. They’re the only people who see it.


There’s too much content for everyone to see everything anymore — those days are long gone! Facebook’s number one job is to protect every user’s news feed including your own. This means playing matchmaker between people and posts.

Facebook can show you 1,750 plus posts each time you login. Nobody has time for that!

So Facebook serves up a short list of posts you’re likely to enjoy. They stick these posts at the top of your news feed and let you discover the rest if you scroll through your feed long enough.

Your goal is to get your posts placed on the short list. It’s easier said than done, but practice makes perfect!

What low reach actually means

Low Facebook reach means your content isn’t picked to be at the top of supporters’ news feeds. Facebook’s algorithm determined that your content isn’t the first thing supporters want to see.


It could be that supporters stopped engaging with your page’s content. If supporters scroll past posts for long enough, it’s signals lack of interest. Facebook wants to make people happy, so these folks will see less from your page…or nothing at all.

When your reach goes down, you get to figure out what content matches your supporters’ interests. It could be you have the wrong audience of people who aren’t likely to be interested, or that your content strategy just needs a little TLC. This is a time to test new content!

Facebook reach: organic, paid or viral

We’ve described organic reach above. This is when Facebook chooses which of your page Followers to show a post to. To increase organic reach, focus on getting content at the top of your audience’s feeds. Think about your target audience (people most likely to care about your mission) and talk authentically to them.

You can also use Facebook ads to reach more people. And you guessed it, it’s called paid reach. Paying Facebook to reach more people captures more current page followers, and also gets you in front of new faces. It’s a powerful strategy for organizations that can budget $50 or more a month on Facebook ads.

It’s natural to look at your posts with low reach and want to boost them. Don’t do it! Facebook already figured out that they don’t move people. A bad avocado is still a bad avocado, even if it’s at the top of the pile.

Long story short: Save your ad dollars to promote the posts that work already. You’ll reach and engage more people and your money will go much, much further.

Now let’s talk viral reach: Reaching people outside of our current follower base. When a supporter engages with your content, it reaches their network of friends who may not know about your organization or cause. These new faces are much more likely to dig in to your cause because a trusted friend cares about it. To increase viral reach, post stuff that’s useful or gives people ways to change the world. They will be more likely to engage with and share this content with others.

Final thoughts: Facebook is social

The moral of the story? Work with Facebook, not against it. Facebook is a social network, so work with your followers.

Listen to them, serve them, build human relationships with them and talk with them, not at them. PSA style posts never perform as well as thoughtful, conversational content! Respond to their comments and questions and think of them as an extended part of your organization because they are! The rest will fall into place in time.

3 Tips for Masterful Facebook Videos (Plus a Little More!)

If you’ve noticed lately, video has become a bigger and bigger feature on Facebook. That’s because video grabs your attention better than images and certainly better than text. Your Facebook videos don’t need to be long and expensive productions; in fact, they often do better when they aren’t.

So what makes a video great? Or shareable? It’s pretty simple really… there are three things you need to do:

1. Inspire Viewers

This is a great place to get your viewers excited about the great work that you do or about the need for the organization/campaign. Video is the greatest way to tell a story and create the emotional involvement needed to engage people in a real way. This is also a great opportunity to give some advice or to challenge people to do what they can in their lives and their communities.

Even better is if you can challenge them through the message itself, like Will Smith does in this short clip. (But you don’t need celebrity status to be successful at it.)

2. Educate Your Audience

People love to learn new things, especially when it’s something fun, interesting and there isn’t a quiz at the end. What matters is that the user is learning something in a simple and relatable way. Surely you’ve seen the recipe videos floating around on Facebook; if not, you should—they are awesome! These videos are a great example of educational content that nonprofits should be creating and posting.

Watch this and think about a few things as we drool over this tasty video. Even though there’s sound in the video, there’s no need for it, as most people don’t listen to the sound because they watch the auto-play on Facebook. It’s quick, easy to follow and entertaining, with great subject matter (and nonprofits have truckloads of great subject matter).

3. Be Entertaining


First, the first two seconds of the video need to capture the viewer’s attention.

Second, you need to upload it to Facebook, not drop in a link from YouTube. Why? Because of auto-play. A video uploaded to Facebook will auto-play so that the viewer doesn’t need to do anything.

Third, and we can’t stress this enough, tell a story. Stories are the most powerful way to connect with people. Just check out this video from BuzzFeed. They just showed up at an event (probably asked permission first) and started shooting. It tells a story; it’s entertaining and inspiring; and it teaches us a simple lesson: “Don’t stand up your grandpa.”

That’s it. Just keep it simple: inspire your audience, educate them and don’t be boring. Most of all, have fun.

Bonus Tips

Create a playlist

Playlists are an easy way to group videos that have a theme. Viewers will often binge on playlists until they get bored or run out of videos. Once you’ve created a few great videos, string them together with a playlist.

Boost it

Boosting a video is an awesome and often cheap way to make a splash on Facebook. Keep your goals in mind though. Boosting a video is great for awareness, reach and engagement, not conversions. Image posts are better if you want people to click through.

Use 360 video


Two things we can say for sure. Nearly 90% of all videos on Facebook are viewed on mobile, and fans love being a part of the action. 360 video covers both. It gives the viewer an immersive experience and is strictly for mobile devices. For this one, you’ll need to buy a special camera (they’re as low as $400 and coming down). The uploads are often very easy with little to no processing required. Imagine taking your fans on a walk through the community that you serve, through the forest that you protect, or to visit the animals that you’ve saved. Now that’s awesome.

Watch the data


Facebook allows you to see when people stop watching the video. There will always be a drop at the beginning because people are just scrolling by. But pay attention to big drops later in the video. If viewers drop off in the first few seconds, then the video wasn’t catchy enough. If they drop later, they may have gotten bored, gotten the point of the video, or seen the ending to the story and didn’t feel the need to continue. One more reason to learn how to tell great stories.

9 Legendary Free Sources of Stunning Stock Photography

If your nonprofit wants to get noticed on Facebook, you’ll need the best images you can get your hands on. The all mighty image, is after all, still the king of Facebook.

In today’s Facebook environment, your posts only have a few seconds to grab your supporters’ attention and make them stop scrolling. Unforunately this means the different between a successful campaign and failure, could hinge on your use of imagery on Facebook.

Using sharp, high-resolution, beautiful images, can be one of the easiest, most powerful ways to accomplishing your goals on and off Facebook. Images of peoples’ faces are proven to be particularly effective 🙂

Below are nine of our favorite sources for free creative commons stock photography that you can use to win on Facebook.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons website allows you to search for free, creative commons images, from 12+ different sources, all in one place! Search Flickr, Google images, Wikipedia and more.

Free Stock Photography


This source is great for unusual photos!

Free Stock Photography


One of our favorite sources. Great if you want high impact, artsy photos for featured images, backgrounds, quotes etc.

Free Stock Photography

Barn Images

Another one of our favorites! Has a few less options than UnSlpash, but will provide you with beautiful, clear, high res images every time.

Free Stock Photography

Death to Stock Photo

This image source is subscription based. Sign up for free on their homepage to start receiving Free photo packs each month in your inbox. The monthly packs always follow a theme and always include beautiful, very high-resolution images.

Free Stock Photography


Pablo, from Buffer, makes it super easy to add text and quotes to any image. They provide ready to use stock photography, or allow you to upload your own image.

Free Stock Photography


Formerly known as StockExchange, this source can be a little corporate at times, but does have some great images to choose from.

Free Stock Photography

Visual Hunt

Visual Hunt is our newest favorite source for killer, engaging images! They have tons of free images on just about every subject you can imagine.


Why your nonprofit needs a daily Facebook posting goal

Do you have a daily Facebook posting goal? If not, you should. Keeping a daily posting goal is one of the easiest ways to maintain consistent levels of organic reach and engagement on your Facebook page. It can also keep your supporters engaged with you and receiving your content in their news feeds!

Still, coming up with ideas for what to post can be difficult. Here, we’ll cover the best ways to keep a daily posting goal that can help you to maintain a healthy Facebook page and to accomplish your larger organizational goals.

Posting inconsistently can cause dramatic spikes and drops in your organic reach and engagement.

One of the things we hear the most often from nonprofits is the desire to maintain a consistent level of organic reach and engagement on Facebook. Many are tired of the extreme spikes and drops in their metrics and wish Facebook could be normalized when it comes to the reach and engagement earned each time they post. At the moment, it can feel like the roll of the dice which is the last thing anyone wants before posting a large, important campaign post!

To make matters worse, organic reach has been dropping for many Facebook page managers. Not only do they desire consistent reach and engagement, they want it to increase!

The good news is that keeping a daily posting goal can help normalize and improve the organic reach and engagement you earn on Facebook. Posting the same number of times each day (including on the weekends) gives you the same number of opportunities to earn organic reach and engagement each day. This helps to smooth out the spikes and drops experienced when posting inconsistently or missing days all together.

Consistent posting each day can also increase your organic reach and engagement over time as you’re giving your supporters more opportunities to see and engage with your content. The truth is that if you post on Facebook but your supporters are not online to see it, they likely will miss your post and will never get the chance to engage with it. Facebook moves so quickly that it’s likely to get buried – even more so if the last time you posted to your Facebook page was a number of days ago!

Therefore, posting consistently a few times a day opens up the number of opportunities you’ve given your supporters to engage with your cause. This, in turn, can increase and normalize your organic reach and engagement.

Posting inconsistently can decrease your number of active, engaged supporters.

Not only can we increase and maintain our organic reach and engagement by posting consistently, we can also retain our most active, engaged supporters on Facebook. Building on the first point we covered, you can begin to lose active supporters on Facebook if you don’t give them enough opportunities to see your content and engage with it.

With the way the Facebook algorithm currently works, a supporter who hasn’t engaged with your page’s content in some time will slowly stop receiving your posts all together. Why is this the case? Facebook uses a number of behavioral triggers to decide which of your supporters receives which of your posts in their news feed. One of the behavioral triggers is post engagement. If they haven’t engaged with your page in a long time, Facebook takes this as a sign that they are no longer interested in your page and it’s content.

The problem is, posting inconsistently can falsely cause this to happen. Your supporters aren’t necessarily any less interested in your cause, they just haven’t received any of your content because the few times a week your page posted, they missed it.

Therefore, posting consistently a few times a day increases the likelihood of your supporters receiving at least one of your posts and engaging with it. This keeps them engaged each day and receiving your content on their news feed.

Posting consistently can increase the success of your top campaigns!

Too many organizations make the mistake of only posting when they have a campaign to share on Facebook. The problem is, as we saw above, this leaves too much time for your supporters to become disengaged and stop receiving your posts, especially if a number of days or weeks has gone by without a single new post on your Facebook page!

The way Facebook currently works, it’s really important to keep posting consistently and keeping people engaged in between your larger campaigns. Doing this ensures that there are still engaged supporters left when you share your donation appeal or petition asking for signatures.

There is also a second principle at play here. Supporters who follow you on Facebook expect to receive valuable content in their news feeds. That’s the number one reason they are following you! If you fail to give them this assumed value, they may not be very forth coming when you ask for help with your next campaign. Think about it, if an organization only asked you for help or money while never giving you any value in return, you’d start to feel less positive about that organization.

We call the mix of this content “The Cheese and Broccoli Rule.” While kids don’t want to eat broccoli by itself, if you add cheese, they start to like it a lot more. Similarly, if you’re not posting fun content of value, in other words, the cheese, your supporters are much less likely to take the broccoli, which is your important campaigns.

Wrap up

As you can see, posting consistently each day on Facebook can have a huge impact on the health and success of your Facebook page overall. Simply setting a daily posting goal can ensure that your supporters are engaged and ready when you have an important campaign to share. It can also retain and further grow your relationships with already engaged, passionate supporters in your cause.

While you don’t need any special tools to set a daily posting goal, ActionSprout does include a built in daily goal tracker. This can be an easy way to stay on top of your goal if your organization has an ActionSprout account.

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.

How your nonprofit can leverage viral reach for good on Facebook

These days, we hear a lot about “going viral” online. Our friends send us “viral” cat videos that everyone is watching. It feels like we see the same “viral” memes and videos every time we open our phones. Invariably, we feel pressure to make something viral to promote our own nonprofit.

What is virility anyway? How does one “go viral” or become a viral hit? Is it even possible to control?

This article will define what viral reach means on Facebook and how you might leverage it to introduce more people to your organization and cause.

Defining Viral Reach

The definition of viral reach on Facebook is actually pretty straightforward. Viral reach is anytime someone who isn’t a fan of your Facebook page sees one of your posts. This means they have not liked your Facebook page yet, may not have heard of your organization before and may not even know about your cause.

That’s it. Pretty simply right?

How do people outside my page fans see my posts?

A common misconception is that only your Facebook page fans can see your posts. This is simply not true. When you post to Facebook, anyone has the chance to see that post. Your page fans will be the first people to see your post, but once it’s out in the wild on Facebook it has the potential to go far beyond just your page fans.

The proof of this is shown by one of our fun, demo pages “Cats oh my”. This page had 3,738 fans at the time of this writing:

viral reach

To date, 18,036 people have engaged with the content we publish to this page.

viral reach

This means almost 20,000 people have reacted to, commented on, or shared one of our “Cats of my” posts even though we have less than 4,000 page fans! So how are they finding our content in their personal news feeds if they don’t like our page?

According to Facebook:

“It’s possible to see posts from people and Pages you aren’t connected with if a friend or Page that you are connected with engages with that post. For example, if you’re friends with Joan Smith you could see a story in your News Feed that says “Joan Smith liked this post from Mercy Corps”, even if you have not liked the Mercy Corps Page. When you create posts that people engage with, your content will reach more people who have liked your Page and their friends.”

That means if your core group of Facebook page fans are highly engaged with your content, it’s likely to spread to their friends and family as well. Now if their friends and family also engage with the content it could spread to their friends and family as well. And so on and so on. Are you beginning to see how your content has the potential to ripple out across Facebook in a powerful way?

Can I influence this in my favor?

Viral reach clearly has some serious power behind it to further our cause and organization on Facebook! The question is, can we control it and leverage it to our advantage? The answer is yes and no.

First of all, anyone who tells you they know the secret to viral reach or can promise you viral reach is, one: trying to take advantage of you, or two: very misguided themselves. In short, there is no magic bullet for viral reach. You cannot “make” something or viral or set out to create a “viral video”. It simply isn’t that easy or straightforward. There is a lot of luck, randomness and chance that goes into something taking off and “becoming viral”.

But with that being said, you do have some influence over the reach of your content. Again, according to Facebook:

“A key tactic to reach a desired audience is to create content that they want to see and be seen sharing. You should think strategically about how to post content that is relevant to that audience, that they might like, share, comment on, or generally enjoy reading. To do this, it helps to understand the characteristics of your desired audience and the type of content they typically engage with.”

If you can figure out what types of posts your Facebook page fans are most likely to go bananas over and share themselves, you can increase the likelihood of viral reach.

Don’t worry, if you’re not sure what types of content will inspire your page fans to engage with and share your content, there are ways to figure it out:

“If you don’t know what people in your community want, find out by testing a variety of posts. You don’t need to have a perfect posting strategy from the beginning. Try posting regularly while intentionally changing the post length, type, tone and topic. After a couple weeks, go back and look at the Post Insights to see which posts are being engaged with. The goal is to hone in on the type of content and calls to action that are resonating with your supporters.”

There are also tools to help you along the way! You can learn what your audience likes through your Facebook Page Insights or your ActionSprout Timeline.

Key takeaways

It is possible to reach a large number of people outside your core Facebook fanbase. When you reach a number of these “non-page fans” it’s called viral reach or “going viral”. You do have some influence over this and can increase your likelihood of viral reach by sharing content you think your page fans will love and want to share with their own networks of friends and family.

Why you should post 2 to 3 times a day on Facebook

In the broadest sense, your nonprofit maintains a Facebook page in order to engage people in your cause. The execution and nitty gritty will be different, but how you get there will be the same: by posting engaging content on your Facebook page.

Posting engaging content is your number one job on Facebook and your primary means for reaching and engaging your current supporters, along with new, potential supporters. So how do you “post well” on Facebook and reach your goals?

There are two laws to follow when posting on Facebook:

  1. Post when your supporters are most likely to be on Facebook
  2. Post at least two to three times a day

This article will walk you through law #2. We’ll discuss:

  1. Why two to three posts a day is the optimal number to reach and engage as many supporters as possible
  2. Why you don’t have to worry about overwhelming or spamming your supporters with too many posts
  3. How you can create and find all this content

Why your goal should be 2 to 3 posts a day

To understand why we should be posting so often, we need some context on the Facebook environment. According to Facebook there are:

“More than 1.6 billion people [who] use Facebook to connect to the things they care about…On average, there are more than a billion stories posted to Facebook every day.”

That is a lot of people and posts!

What the folks at Facebook quickly learned was that showing every user every possible post, from the friends, family and the pages they followed, was out of the question. If they did so, every user would have to scroll through roughly 1,500 posts per day to find the posts and stories they really cared about. Thus, Facebook developed a powerful algorithm to decide which of these 1,500 possible posts each user receives in their news feed, and which are the most important to put at the top.

That means each time you post to Facebook, roughly 5% of your page fans, on average, will receive the post in their news feed. Based on their past behavior and browsing patterns, Facebook has decided these particular 5% are the folks most likely to enjoy and engage with the content you just published. In short, Facebook matches the right people with the right posts.

Now this brings us back to posting two to three times a day! Because such a small percentage of people receive each of your posts, it’s extremely unlikely that one single person will see all of the content you publish in a day, because the algorithm is matching up the right people with the right posts.

Thus, each time you post, that post is reaching and potentially engaging a new 5% of your supporter base that will be more likely to enjoy your post. This means that by simply posting two to three times a day you can increase your reach and engagement without paying for it through Facebook advertising.

Who doesn’t want that!

It’s really hard to spam your supporters on Facebook

Think about it, Facebook is more afraid of spamming their users than you are. Without its users, Facebook has nothing! Because of this, your goals and Facebook’s goals are aligned: engage people with awesome content and make them want to come back for more!

We already touched on this fact before: it’s extremely unlikely that one unique person will see all the content you publish in the course of a day. If they do see several of your posts, it means they have engaged with your content so often that Facebook has decided to show them more of it. This is a good thing, and definitely not spammy behavior on your part! They’re asking Facebook for more of your content through their actions!

But how does Facebook know who to deliver your posts to, and how often?

“The three main types of signals used to estimate a post’s relevance to each person are:

  1. WHO POSTED IT – The friends, family, news sources, businesses and public figures a person interacts with most are prioritized in their News Feed.
  2. POST TYPE – Whether it’s photos, videos, or links, News Feed prioritizes the types of posts that a person interacts with most frequently.
  3. POST ACTIVITY – Posts that have a lot of likes, comments and shares (especially from the people a person interacts with most) could appear higher in a person’s feed.”

By following these rules, Facebook does a really good job figuring out which users to show which posts. And, to reverse that, Facebook is really good at not delivering content to users who won’t enjoy it. Therefore your supporters rarely receive a post from you that they won’t like or might feel is spammy:

“The goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that matter to them most — by showing people the most relevant stories to them higher up in their feeds, we hope to create the best, personalized experience for everyone using Facebook. We do this by taking into account thousands of signals and ranking stories from most to least relevant for each person. Every time someone refreshes their feed, News Feed ranks all the stories they are eligible to see and delivers them in this order to their feed.”

That opens you up to post more often, take more risks with posting, and try new things. If a post doesn’t “work”, very few people will receive it, and you can fail gracefully.

Remember, no one visits your Facebook page but you and your team!

How you can create and find this much content

Let’s quickly recap before we go any further. First, we now know that posting the optimal two to three times a day means we can increase the number of supporters we reach and engage on Facebook without spending any money on Facebook ads.

Second, posting frequently does not mean spamming your supporters. Facebook is really good at figuring out which posts to show to which users in order to make them happy and willing to spend more time on Facebook. And more time on Facebook means more time consuming your content!

So how do we come up with two to three posts everyday to publish on Facebook? Two words: Content Curation. 80% of the time, you will share images, videos and news created by others that relates to your cause. The last 20% of the time, you’ll create your own original content in house.

If this is setting off plagiarism warning bells inside your head, you’re not alone. Here’s why sharing other’s content on Facebook is not only encouraged, but built into the core design of the platform.

There are many ways to find and choose the content you’ll share from others. You can use Facebook’s Interest Lists feature, ActionSprout’s Inspiration feature, Google Alerts and many more!

When in doubt, repost your own high performing content a second or third time to your page! According to Facebook:

“It is not bad to periodically re-post your top performing content. If you find that a topic or image gets a lot of engagement, try re-posting it. Because News Feed curates what each person sees in order to serve them the most relevant and interesting content, it is very hard to “spam” the people who have liked your Page.”

How you find this content doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re posting two to three times a day, when your supporters are most likely to on Facebook. That’s it. If you follow these two laws of posting you’ll be much more likely to reach your organizational goals on Facebook.

Happy posting!

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.


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”:


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:

giving tuesday

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:

giving tuesdaypa

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


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.

Everyone who tells you when to post on Facebook is wrong

There is no shortage of people telling you about the best time(s) to post on Facebook. However, these “best times to post” articles, written by “certified Facebook experts,” are all based on broad averages and studies. They are guesses at best, and do not reflect the reality of your supporters’ Facebook habits:

when to post on facebook updated

The truth is that the real answer of when to post has been available to you the entire time—through your Facebook Page.

Facebook itself will tell you when your supporters are on the site. And who would post based on a general average when you could have the cold, hard facts about your own supporters? The problem is that so few Page managers know that this data is given to them or where to find it. Instead, they trust the averages and the self-proclaimed experts, not knowing that a better solution is right in front of them.

This ends today. This post will show you where to find this data through your Facebook Page and how to use it.

Where to Find the Data

To find out when your supporters are on Facebook, login and navigate to your nonprofit’s Page.

At the top of your Page, you’ll find the Insights tab. Click on it:

when to post on facebook

From here, you will click on Posts from the left-hand menu. This will open up the graph that we want to look at:

when to post on facebook

This graph is a seven-day look at when your Page fans will most likely be on Facebook (it learns from their past behavior). This graph is pretty accurate because:

  1. People typically login to Facebook at the same times every day, i.e. during their lunch break or after work.
  2. Facebook has a ton of past behavioral data to pull from. The larger the sample size, the higher the accuracy.

How to Read the Data

By Day

Just above the graph, you’ll find a series of bars—one for each day of the week. This tells you, on average, how many of your Page fans log in to Facebook each day. In this example, Saturday wins by just a hair. If you have an important post or campaign coming up, this can help you to decide which day(s) is/are the best to make the announcement.

By Hour

The graph then shows you, on average, what hour(s) your Page fans are on Facebook for the week as a whole. Hovering over a day bar just above will display the particular times for that day. In this example, if you hover over the Friday bar, you can see a unique spike at 7am:

when to post on facebook

This would be one of the best times to post on Friday each week. We can also see that 1pm, 3pm and 6pm are also uniquely good times to post on Friday on Facebook.

We can do the same for each day. Here’s Thursday; on Thursdays in particular, we should post at 8am, 9am and 5pm:

when to post on facebook

This can be a bit tedious at first, but once you have the hang of it, and a sense of when your Page fans are on Facebook each day, it will pay huge dividends over trusting the general averages that you can find on Google.

An Automated Option

There is an option, through ActionSprout, to automate this process. If you share any post from the ActionSprout app, we will show you the next best time to post on Facebook based on your Page graph:

when to post on facebook

You also have the option to browse these times for the coming week. Simply click on the Optimal posting times link right below the default next best time:

when to post on facebook

This allows you some flexibility but makes sure that you’re always posting at optimal times.


You have some options for choosing how to take advantage of this powerful data based on your preferences. What’s important is that you use your own personalized data instead of generic averages to guide your decisions on Facebook.

Want to learn even more about the data tucked away inside your Page’s Insights tab? Here are the top three metrics to know about. Spoiler: you already know the first one!

11 Epic Donor Engagement Strategies for the Modern Nonprofit

This piece was authored by Blake Groves. See full bio at end of article

Now with over 1.5 billion monthly users, Facebook continues to be the reigning champion of social media sites and one of the primary channels for modern communication.

So, why not use it as a medium for engaging potential donors?

Because social media is a relatively new tool, most nonprofits simply have no idea where to start when it comes to reaching out to their donors. While this is normal for a platform so new, going in blindly and without a proven strategy can do some real damage to a nonprofit’s success with Facebook. What may be worse, though, is that others have let themselves become defeated by all of the (often misguided) criticism floating around.

The truth is that with so much information out there, it does take hard work and a little bit of strategizing to stand out from the crowd and successfully engage your donors. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. If done right, using social media as an engagement platform can greatly deepen your supporter relationships and bring you excellent results.

Our job today is to get your nonprofit heading in that right direction.

Here are 11 epic donor engagement strategies for the modern nonprofit:

  1. Consider peer to peer
  2. Make posts personal
  3. Follow the 20% text rule
  4. Advertise yourself
  5. Host an event
  6. Practice content curation
  7. Create urgency
  8. Make sure you’re mobile-friendly
  9. Include a call to action
  10. Define a directed goal
  11. Enlist the help of software

    1. Consider Peer to Peer

In order for Facebook to really work for your cause, you want to build as much engagement as you can around your Page and content. So, how do you foster the engagement needed to raise funds on Facebook?

Consider growing your social media presence and awareness of your cause by running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and capitalizing on the networking possibilities that social media has to offer.

For those of you who haven’t tried them yet, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns mobilize your supporters to fundraise on your behalf by—you guessed it—requesting donations from their peers.

Generally, the best way for fundraisers to request donations is by posting about your campaign on their personal social media sites. Fundraisers include a link to an online donation page with each post, so that their peers can donate at the click of a button.

Peer-to-peer campaigns can be an excellent means of engagement, because they put your organization into contact with people that you would have never been able to reach on your own.

Additionally, people are on social media primarily to communicate with their friends, so they’re more likely to engage with a post from someone they know.

When they see friends posting about your organization, the hope is that peers will take enough interest in your cause to like your Page and keep interacting with you.

Takeaway: Because fundraisers have already established the trust of their peers, you’re more likely to engage people who were once out of your reach.

Check out some social media tips for peer-to-peer fundraising.

2. Make Posts Personal

Telling a personal story is one of the most successful ways to get donors interested in your organization. Think of it this way: you’re trying to get to know supporters better and establish deeper relationships with them.

Similarly, as people who are potentially investing in your cause, supporters also want to get to know a little more about you.

Make it easy for them by sharing pieces of your organization’s story in your posts.

Your story could include:

  • Why your organization is passionate about the cause.
  • How your organization got involved.
  • Achievements that your organization is most proud of.
  • Anecdotes about defining moments.
  • What you’re doing specifically to work toward your cause.

Telling a personal story will make your posts more heartfelt and help you to win your donors’ trust. It will also help you brand your organization in a meaningful way so that your overall social media strategy is more cohesive.

Takeaway: A well-crafted story gives donors a face to associate with your organization. When they feel like they know you, they’re more likely to build a relationship with you.

3. Follow the 20% Text Rule

Visuals add excitement to your posts and are much more likely to grab supporters’ attention than posts that include just text.

In fact, studies have shown that online browsers are around 80% more likely to read the content on a post that includes a color image.

If that’s not reason enough to incorporate pictures into your posts, we don’t know what is!

But when it comes to advertising on Facebook, all images must adhere to the 20% text rule as per Facebook’s advertising guidelines. While the rule sounds technical, it’s actually pretty manageable to stay on top of.

If your nonprofit runs ads or practices content boosting, it’s a good idea to follow this rule with all the images that you post to Facebook. This cuts out the extra step of changing images or recreating them with less text when you decide to boost a post.

Instead, all your content will be ready to promote at a moment’s notice. This can be especially important when running on a deadline to raise funds through Facebook!

Takeaway: When you add visuals to your posts, your chances of engaging donors increase exponentially! Be ready to boost by following the 20% text rule from the beginning.

4. Advertise Yourself

On that note, Facebook isn’t just a communication channel… it’s also a marketing tool.

To draw attention to your cause and get noticed by your donors, you have to advertise your organization a little bit. With Facebook advertising features, you can boost the most important posts to expand their scope.

The site gives you a number of different price options based on how many people you want your post to reach. You bid however much you want to spend, so you always have control over your budget.

If you see that one of your posts is doing particularly well, consider paying a little to boost the post so that more people will see it.

You already know that the post is successful when it comes to engaging your donors, so get it out there!

If you find that boosting your post is working, you can also use this feature to advertise your online campaigns when you need a little extra help in reaching your goals.

Takeaway: Sometimes a little shameless self-promotion pays off. As long as you’re strategic, boosting your posts can be an excellent investment.

5. Host an Event

Often, donors are more likely to engage with your organization online if you’re also making efforts elsewhere.

For maximum donor engagement, consider hosting a fundraising event to coincide with one of your social media campaigns or other online efforts.

People love events. They allow your donors to connect with their communities and do something fun—all while supporting a good cause.

Plus, donors will have an experience to associate with your posts, making your organization more vivid in their minds.

When it comes to hosting a fundraising event, the possibilities are practically endless. No matter what kind of event you host, just be sure to inform the donors of your online campaign and urge them to follow your Facebook Page.

Need a few ideas? Start getting creative with Salsa’s list of top fundraising events.

Takeaway: When you make efforts both online and off, there’s a greater likelihood that potential donors will come into contact with your organization.

6. Practice Content Curation

When it comes to looking for high-performing posts, you don’t have to stop at original content.

In fact, many nonprofits and their successful Facebook Pages follow what we call the 80/20 rule. A whopping 80% of your content on Facebook should be curated content! The last 20% is your own original content. That’s right—80% of the content that you post to Facebook should be shared from sources other than your own organization.

The best way to collect shared content is through a practice known as content curation.

Content curation occurs when one Page shares a piece of high-performing content to piggyback off that post’s success.

You might ask, “But isn’t that stealing?”

The answer is, quite simply, no.

You’re sharing a post directly from another Page, so that piece of content will still be associated with the Page from which it originated.

Not only are these curated posts more likely to engage supporters and broaden your reach, but you’re also helping other Pages do the same by spreading their content.

So, if you see that a Page you’re following has posted a successful piece of content that relates to your cause, don’t be afraid to share it on your Page too.

Takeaway: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When you practice content curation, you’re combining your efforts with others’ to bring more attention to both of your Pages.

Still not convinced? Read ActionSprout’s argument for content curation.

7. Create Urgency

Often, to engage, donors need some motivation. Give them a little push by creating urgency around your cause. One of the best ways to up the urgency is by hosting a matching donation drive.

This strategy motivates donors by telling them that if they reach a fundraising goal within a certain amount of time, someone will match the goal and double their contributions.

For this strategy to work best, it’s important to set a clearly defined fundraising goal and an amount of time to complete it in.

For example, you could say that you want to raise $50,000 toward building a new culinary wing for the local high school, and tell donors that you want to meet this goal in 72 hours. If they do, the sponsor will bring your total up to $100,000.

Of course, for a matching drive to work, you also need to find a sponsor who’s willing to provide a matching gift.

Takeaway: More urgency means more money. Because they know that they only have a small window of time to contribute, donors will have more reason to give—and fast.

8. Make Sure You’re Mobile-Friendly

These days, a majority of web browsing (around 52%) is done from mobile phones. That number shoots up to 80% when browsing Facebook!

That means if all the elements of your posts aren’t mobile-responsive, you’re missing out on the majority of your donors.

Although the Facebook platform ensures that your posts themselves will be mobile-responsive, it does nothing to ensure that your content is.

This tip is especially important when it comes to online donation forms. As a facilitator of one of your organization’s most important efforts, it’s critical that these forms are mobile-responsive. That way, when your supporters are ready to contribute, it’s always an option.

Takeaway: You don’t want to miss out on an entire platform that you can use to engage donors. Make sure your posts are mobile-responsive from the start!

9. Include a Call to Action

When donors are engaged by your posts, many will want to take the next step and become a supporter.

Make it clear how donors can do so by including a compelling call to action on all of your posts. Keep in mind that these calls to action don’t necessarily have to be asks for donations.

In fact, studies have suggested that it might be more effective to request different actions on social media first, and then ask for donations once supporters have interacted with your organization.

There are any number of asks that you can make, including:

  • Visiting your nonprofit’s website
  • Subscribing to your email newsletter
  • Signing a petition or completing another advocacy action
  • Volunteering at or attending an event
  • Sharing your post with friends

Making an ask other than “donate” allows organizations to engage donors for longer by approaching them through different channels.

This allows you to keep building trust for deeper nonprofit-donor relationships that can help you optimize your fundraising efforts down the line.

It also takes the pressure to donate off of people who are new to your organization and who might not be ready to take this step until they learn more about you.

Takeaway: Patience is a virtue. Hold off on asking for donations at first, and you might see better fundraising results down the line!

10. Define a Directed Goal

With that being said, fundraising is your organization’s primary effort, so you’re likely going to be asking your donors for donations through social media at some point. Make your asks as persuasive as possible by defining a clear goal.

People are more likely to contribute to your cause if they know exactly what their contributions are going toward, so S P E L L it out for them!

Although they know in theory that their money is going to a good cause, donors want to see how their contributions are making a difference. They’ll be more motivated if they can see that their actions are bringing in concrete results.

It’s much easier to quantify your results and update donors on your progress if you’ve set a clearly defined goal.

Let’s go back to our example of raising $50,000 for a school culinary wing. With this ask, donors would know exactly what your organization is working toward and how much it takes to get there.

You can easily keep donors up to date on how the campaign is progressing with a fundraising thermometer. Then, once the wing is built, you could send them newsletters about how the wing is making a difference for students by featuring some of their personal stories.

This ask is successful because it tells donors exactly what they need to do and shows them results through both quantifiable data and personal stories. And, of course, never forget to include the link to your online donation page!

Takeaway: People want to know how their contributions are helping. Defining a directed goal leaves no room for doubt.

11. Enlist the Help of Software

Even the largest and most established nonprofits don’t go at it alone.

Many organizations rely on nonprofit fundraising software to help them hone their social media strategies and make them more engaging. Fundraising software organizes all of your nonprofit’s important data in one place.

By centralizing them, your once disparate data sources can communicate with each other to better inform your social media efforts.

For example, software would house your donor database, online donation processing and event planning operations in one place.

Not only would you have access to the biographical information included in your donor profiles, but you would also be able to link these profiles with your supporters’ interaction histories, such as:

  • Donations
  • Event attendance
  • Volunteer work
  • Membership
  • Opening and clicking through email campaigns
  • Sharing and commenting on your social media posts

With more complete profiles, you can subdivide your list based on certain criteria to better target your supporters. Facebook lets you group your donors into different lists, so you can easily share certain content with some supporters and different content with others.

Your donors will be impressed by how well you know them! Learn more about this software.

Takeaway: Software gives you more insight into your donors, so you can share the most relevant content for the best chance of engaging them.

At the end of the day, engaging your donors through social media is all about making your posts as relevant and as convenient as possible.

Remember, like with all of your efforts, your social media engagement strategy is a work in progress. Your organization will have to do some experimenting to see what works best, but these tips should start you off on the right track.

What Facebook engagement strategies have worked for your organization? Let us know in the comments!

This article was authored by Blake Groves VP of Strategy and Business Development at Salsa Labs. With more than 20 years in technology solutions and consulting, Blake comes equipped with hands-on knowledge of sales, consulting, product management and marketing. For the last 10 years, he has narrowed his focus to how Internet technologies can help nonprofit organizations, and prior to joining Salsa, he held positions at Convio and Charity Dynamics.