3 Digital Advertising Strategies for Donor Acquisition

It’s a fact: every year, some donors stop giving. While it’s important to plan how to prevent attrition, strong strategies for donor acquisition also help to counteract this loss of donors further down the donor lifecycle.

Notice how strategies is plural? You can’t rely on just 1 method to attract new donors – you need a playbook.

There’s already a decent number of strategies to build your playbook from – direct mail, event hosting, peer-to-peer fundraising – but there’s also a tremendous opportunity to acquire new donors with strategies for digital advertising.

Digital advertising is (relatively) cheap, easy to track, and easy to scale. Compared to strategies traditionally employed by nonprofits, advertising on platforms like Facebook and Youtube might even be your best bet for expanding your donor base.

So, without further ado, here are 3 digital advertising strategies for donor acquisition.

1. Advertise To A Facebook Lookalike Audience

Using your current supporters as a reference source for new donors will always be an effective strategy for donor acquisition. People are much more likely to give to a cause one of their friends supports. But if your email list is your only acquisition source, the size of your target audience will always be limited.

Instead of using your donors as a direct referral source (e.g. peer-to-peer campaigns), what if you could use them as an indirect referral source? With Facebook Lookalike Audiences, now you can.

If you haven’t heard, Facebook’s advertising platform has incredible targeting capabilities. When you create a campaign, you get to choose who will see your ads, using factors like demographics, location, and interests (other Facebook pages they like).

Facebook calls this feature Audience Insights, and it’s one of the most powerful tools in digital advertising today.

When you fire up a campaign on Facebook, you have the option to create several different types of audiences. An audience is comprised of the type of people who will see your ad.

To make sure that the people you target with your campaign will actually be interested in your cause, you need to create a Lookalike Audience. A Lookalike Audience is exactly what it sounds like – a segment of people who share the characteristics of another group.

To create a Lookalike Audience, just upload a list of your current donors into Facebook. Facebook will automatically create a list of people to target with your ads that closely resembles your current donors. By targeting people who share the same interests and demographics as your current supporters, you’re maximizing your advertising efforts.

That’s the magic of Facebook Advertising. Here’s a great video of how to set up a Lookalike Audience.

2. Use Remarketing To Follow-Up

Ever noticed how advertisement for sites you’ve previously visited follow you around the internet? That’s called remarketing, and it’s an incredibly powerful way to follow up with potential donors.

For the vast majority of people, a purchase will not be made on a website the first time they visit. They’re just window shopping. Sometimes they come back to buy, and sometimes they don’t.

That’s why remarketing is so effective. You can create an ad that Google will show on other sites to people who have already visited your site. This particular set of internet users are particularly important to you, because they’ve already demonstrated an interest in your organization by visiting your website.

All you need to do is give them a gentle reminder to draw them back to your site. The chances of them becoming a donor become substantially higher once they return.

Here’s how it works. You need to open a Google Adwords account – which is free – and insert a tracking code on your site. (You can even use Google Ad Grants to get $10,000 a month toward free Google Ads.) After inserting that code, everyone that visits your site will be added to your remarketing audience through the use of browser cookies.

Now you just need to create an ad for Google across its display network, and you’re in business.

Here’s a video with some instructions on getting started.

3. Find A Partner & Do Some Co-Marketing

If you’re just starting out, or you don’t have much budget for Facebook advertising (remember, Google Ads are free for nonprofits), the easiest way to advertise your cause to new donors is to find a partner organization.

Many for-profits are willingly to partner with nonprofits in order to give their employees an opportunity to give back to the community and support worthwhile causes. Developing a co-marketing partnership is often as easy as getting a list of target businesses, setting up a phone call with someone at each organization, and pitching the idea of a partnership.

Once you have a partnership in place, create an email or brochure that invites people to contribute to your cause. Every year, rinse and repeat.

Make the Most of Digital Strategies for Donor Acquisition

To make the most of digital advertising, you’re going to need one of three things:

  1. Someone in-house with some digital advertising expertise
  2. Time to learn these platforms yourself
  3. Budget to hire a freelancer to help you set up campaigns

Regardless of which scenario applies to you, digital advertising is worth it. There’s a reason brands from every industry under the sun are advertising on these platforms. Why shouldn’t nonprofits benefit, too?

Start planning your digital advertising campaigns, and these strategies for donor acquisition will put you in a great fundraising position.