Unlocking the power of Facebook Ads for nonprofits & political campaigns

You probably already know that Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool that nonprofits and political campaigns can use to help reach their target audience and build relationships with their supporters. What you probably don’t know is that every time you post to Facebook, you’re only reaching a tiny fraction of your followers.

Making even a small investment in Facebook advertising not only helps you reach more of your existing followers every time you post — it also has a great return on investment in terms of engaging more deeply with your base, targeting new audiences, and recruiting new supporters. 

Organic Reach, and why you can’t rely on it alone.

Organic reach is the total number of people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.

The problem with relying on organic reach is that it means that you’re only reaching a small fraction of your supporters and followers. Benchmark studies show that relying on organic reach alone means that you’re only speaking to 6% of your followers. For Facebook pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach is closer to 2%.


This means that for a page with 10,000 Facebook followers, you can only expect 650 of them to see your post in their News Feed. If you have 500,000 Facebook followers, only 10,000 of them would see your post.

Why is organic reach so low? With more and more content being shared on Facebook every day, competition for screen time in your audience’s News Feed is higher than ever. Facebook’s trend of tweaking their algorithms to curate each person’s News Feed to show only the content that’s most relevant to them has also led to a decline in the organic reach of your Page’s posts.

However, by making even a small investment in Facebook advertising, non-profits and political campaigns can significantly increase their reach and make Facebook an even more valuable part of their digital strategy.

Seeing a return on investment.

One of the great things about Facebook advertising is that you can do it on almost any budget. With a small investment of just $5 you can create your first Facebook Ad and start exploring how paid digital advertising can help you increase your reach and meet your goals more quickly.

However, nonprofits that see the largest year-over-year growth in total dollars raised online invest more in digital advertising. On average, top nonprofit groups invest $0.12 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online.

Spending 12% of your online revenue on digital advertising may seem like a lot — especially for a small nonprofit or political campaign — but it can quickly pay off with a significant return on investment.

For example, let’s say a small organization with 6,000 subscribers and an annual revenue of $70,000 wants to invest in digital advertising to grow their organization and recruit new supporters. Let’s also assume this nonprofit decides to invest $6,000 in Facebook ads (which is only a fraction of what top nonprofits invest in digital advertising in terms of percentage of annual revenue).

Coupled with an effective digital fundraising strategy, recruitment campaigns that invest in Facebook Ads can see a return on investment of over 1,100% in new annual revenue.

Based on our experience helping nonprofits and political campaigns with their Facebook ad campaigns and overall digital strategy, we know that an effective Facebook advertising campaign focused on supporter recruitment can result in a cost per conversion well under $1.00 per new supporter. We also know that coupled with an effective digital fundraising strategy, every email address is worth $12.30 in annual revenue.

This means that with a well planned and well-executed Facebook Advertising campaign focused on recruiting new supporters, an investment of $6,000 in Facebook ads can help recruit over 6,000 new supporters and net a return of over $73,000 in additional annual revenue. That's a supporter growth rate of 100%, and a return on investment of over 1,100% in new annual revenue.

What do you need to get started?

Boosted Posts, Facebook Ads for beginners.

Nonprofits and political campaigns with a Facebook page can get started with their first Facebook Ad by using Facebook's “Boost Post” feature.

Boosted Posts are the most basic form of Facebook advertising. They are used when your goal is to simply reach more people with a post and increase engagement with it (i.e. shares, comments, & post likes). While boosted posts may drive additional positive outcomes like new signups, donations, page likes and more — these other outcomes aren't what your boosted post is optimized for and shouldn't be your primary goal. If you’re only boosting your posts, you’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible with Facebook advertising.

Unlocking the full potential of Facebook advertising.

Unlocking the full potential of Facebook advertising means diving in to use their more advanced advertising tools and features. These more advanced tools and features allow you to create campaigns optimized for more specific goals and outcomes, target more precise custom audiences that are more likely to engage with your campaign, and better track your campaign success with a broader set of analytics.

For advanced Facebook advertising campaigns, the first thing you will need is a Facebook Ads Manager account. Facebook Ads Manager is your ad campaign command center, and gives you access to Facebook’s full set of advertising tools. You can get started with a free Facebook Ads Manager account here.

Next, you should install a Facebook Pixel on your website. Your Facebook pixel connects your website to Facebook’s analytics and reporting, and helps give you more insight into the effectiveness of your ad advertising campaigns.

You will also need to think of your goals for your advertising campaign. These goals should align with your organization's overall goals and engagement strategy. Here are some examples of the types of goals you can set and track with more advanced Facebook advertising campaigns:

  • Get more people to sign up for your email list
  • Collect signatures on an online petition
  • Recruit new supporters who meet a certain demographic or are from a certain geographic area
  • Get more people to attend an event
  • Get supporters to send a letter to their local elected officials
  • Ask for end-of-year donations
  • Sell more memberships
  • Sell merchandise in your online store
  • Increase the number of views of a video your produced
  • Get more “Likes” on your Facebook Page
  • Get more likes, comments, & shares on a particular post

You will also need to make sure you have the right people in place to help plan and execute your digital advertising campaign. For most nonprofits and political campaigns this usually means finding and hiring new employees with the necessary experience and qualifications, or partnering with an agency like Van City Studios to bring a team of digital experts on board.

Are you interested in making Facebook Ads part of your nonprofit or political campaign's digital strategy? Talk to us about how we can help.
Ryan Vandecasteyen
About Ryan Vandecasteyen
Ryan is Van City Studios' chief strategist and design expert.
Unlocking the power of Facebook Ads for nonprofits & political campaigns
Unlocking the power of Facebook Ads for nonprofits & political campaigns
Hi, it's nice to meet you.