Donate graphic in social media screen

Creating Effective Fundraising Ads for Social Media

In today’s uber-connected world, it’s no surprise that social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for fundraising. When done right, putting advertising dollars behind your fundraising efforts on social media can go a long way toward reaching a wider audience and driving significantly more revenue for your organization. However, in order to cut through the clutter, you will need to create ads that work—ads that not pique peoples’ interest but also get them to care about your organization and want to make a contribution.

When developing effective fundraising creative, here are a few basic best practices to keep in mind:

1. Tell a compelling story that will resonate with your target audience. The best ads stop people in their tracks and make them think or feel something.

2. Make peoples’ gifts feel tangible with a specific initiative or a financial goal. Try breaking down your core goals into smaller chunks so that people feel like their individual contributions actually matter and they don’t get overwhelmed.

3. Communicate a sense of urgency. People are much more likely to give if they feel like their donation is needed right now.


1. Tell a Compelling Story

As important as storytelling is, it is too often neglected in direct-response marketing. It’s easy to lose track of the “why” when you’re in ad land, looking at data, thinking about how much money you need to raise and who you want to reach. But if you want to truly connect with your audience, it’s so important to take a step back and find your story first.

So why is storytelling so important?

    • It establishes an emotional connection with the viewer
    • It makes the issue feel more personal
    • It humanizes your organization
    • It helps to create a sense of urgency and a tangible outcome
    • People remember stories. According to Stanford Marketing Professor and social psychologist Jennifer Aaker, people remember stories 22x better than facts alone!



2. Make the gifts feel tangible

Abstract goals are difficult for people to grasp and can feel overwhelming if they are too large. Instead of communicating lofty, abstract ambitions, you are much better off speaking to specific initiatives or offering information on what peoples’ donations can actually do.

For example, you may want to raise funds for a very specific initiative, set a financial target (say $5,0000), or communicate values for each donation ($10 can plant one tree). Breaking things down in this way helps people know the value of their gifts and feel confident that their donations matter.


3. Communicate a sense of urgency

Human beings are notorious procrastinators. Communicating a sense of urgency not only helps your ad catch people’s eye, but it helps them realize they need to act now rather than putting off their donation until tomorrow, the next day, or more likely – forgetting entirely. Using language like “Make an urgent gift today,” or “Time is running out” will let people know that there is an immediate need.


Putting These Concepts into Practice

One of my former clients is an organization that promotes specialized animal welfare and more humanity for ALL. A key goal of theirs is to rescue bears from inhumane situations around the world. From a social ads perspective, our first challenge was getting people in the United States to care about little-known, yet complex, issues that affect animals in distant countries. Our second challenge was in empowering donors to feel like they could each make a difference, even when the problem is so large and widespread.

What we found was that people were much more willing to donate when we were fundraising for a specific initiative with a compelling story behind it than for the wider issue where there was less of a narrative. Our most effective ads told the story of two bears who the organization intended to rescue. The ads introduced the bears, featured videos of their current conditions, and emphasized the urgent need for help and resources in order to give them a better life. By breaking down the problem into these two individual bears’ stories we were able to make the issue feel real, tangible, and urgent. These ads fared significantly better than ads speaking to the issue at large.


To sum things up: telling a compelling story, making the objectives feel tangible, and imparting a sense of urgency are three elements of strong fundraising creativity on social media. Combine these with solid conversion tracking and the right audiences, and you are well on your way to an effective fundraising campaign. To learn more about our fundraising services, click here or contact us today.