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5 Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Invest in Advertising

Despite an increase in nonprofit spending on advertising (+ 17% in 2019, according to M+R’s Benchmarks Report), many organizations still think digital advertising is out of reach for them, and hesitate to move advertising campaigns up on the priority list, often due to budget, resource and time constraints. 

The truth is that advertising is an increasingly important way for nonprofits to boost visibility, generate leads, and ultimately raise more funds. Just like brands, nonprofits compete for recognition, attention, and loyalty in the digital space, and even a small investment can help move the needle for specific objectives and goals. 

So, the big question: to spend or not to spend? Consider these five reasons for investing in advertising campaigns this year:

#1 You can always start small.

You don’t have to have massive budgets to entertain spending money on paid media. Platforms like search and social are set up to utilize any size budget and can provide benchmarks to build future campaign projections off of and understand how to accelerate growth. For example, a $1,500 media spend on Facebook could give you all you need to show that the platform is going to see a positive ROI and that your organization could benefit from investing more. Additionally, any budget you spend is always considered a test and can provide meaningful insights as to which audiences, tactics, and creative are going to perform best in helping you reach your goals next time around.

#2 There isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a one-size fits all approach.

When it comes to media vendors, the digital advertising space is a crowded one, and that can be a good thing for nonprofits. Take time to consider where your target audience spends time online and the type of digital content they engage most with before choosing which platforms to invest in. You’ll have a much higher chance of campaign success if you put your money towards platforms that you know will serve your ads to those who need to see them and when they need to see them.

#3 Google offers free (yes, FREE!) advertising to nonprofits.

If you aren’t already taking advantage of Google’s Ad Grant program, now is the time. Google offers up to $10,000 of free advertising per month for nonprofits, which can easily translate into thousands of website visits, as well as valuable conversions, for your organization each month. The Ad Grant helps you take advantage of relevant search traffic and works just like any paid search account — you set up strategic campaigns to capture new audiences based on relevant search terms and drive them to pages on your website. Since this budget expires at the end of each month, the key is for the Grant to be managed effectively to make the most out of this resource. Media Cause is a Google Ad Grant certified partner, which means we have the inside track on how best to utilize this resource. Reach out and let us know how we can help you get started and/or make the most of this tool.

#4 Tracking is more sophisticated than it’s ever been.

For anyone that’s run a paid media campaign, you know that direct conversion metrics never tell the full story. The good news is that most media vendors these days are able to track added impact in the form of view-through conversions, which happens when someone doesn’t immediately click on your ad and convert, but instead comes back and converts later.  These data points help showcase impact beyond direct conversions and can make all the difference when looking at ROAS (return on ad spend). Beyond conversions, digging into the data can help glean useful insights for future advertising campaigns or your organization’s marketing strategy in general. Were those engaging most with your ads on mobile? Of a certain age/demographic? Which ad types and/or creative variations were users most responsive too? For any advertising campaign, there are countless data points at your disposal to make informed decisions based on.

#5 Visibility matters all year-round — not just in December.

Many nonprofits have been conditioned to avoid spending any money on advertising until year-end fundraising season when donations are the primary focus. The mistake with this strategy is that December is the most competitive time of year for advertising; nonprofits not only compete against other nonprofits but also big brands who are trying to drive holiday shopping behavior. Acquisition costs are at an all-time high, and your audience is getting hit with a thousand messages all at once. Nonprofits can benefit from running advertising campaigns earlier in the year, when costs are lower, to raise awareness of their organization, attract new supporters, and cultivate relationships before fundraising season hits.  This will not only help bring acquisition down costs during year-end but result in higher quality donors with stronger ties to your organization.

There’s no better time to start thinking about how digital advertising can play a role for your organization. Need help vetting platforms? Brainstorming campaign ideas? Drop us a line — we’d love to point you in the right direction.