How to make the most of Facebook advertising

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Is your charity or non-profit organisation making the most of Facebook advertising? Well rather than us tell you what you should be doing, we thought we’d call in an expert. Lynn Sutton, Facebook’s non-profit lead for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, shares her top tips to help your organisation get ahead. 

The rapid growth of social media has affected all industries, changing the way in which people interact with brands and organisations online, and creating a need for brands to adapt to keep up. This shift is also true for non-profit and charitable organisations.

There’s a huge amount of support for non-profits on social media, with Derrick Feldmann’s Millennial Impact Report 2013 citing that 49% of millennials follow 1-5 non-profit organisations.

Facebook reaches over 1.2 billion people globally with 63% or 802 million people visiting Facebook every day, many of which return to Facebook on mobile devices. This means Facebook advertising helps organisations reach the right audience at the right time, with a personalised message to maximise engagement.

Here are my five tips that you should consider when you’re thinking about Facebook advertising for your organisation.

1. Set up a campaign to achieve your goals

Before you start your Facebook advertising, it’s important to set out the goals you want to achieve and define what success will look like for you. This will help to identify the success of your campaigns.

Ads should be used to support meaningful goals for your organisation or cause, such as fundraising, building your email list, or rallying supporters to take specific action on an issue.

Get started by heading to and choosing the objective that best serves your campaign goal.

Some of the most common objectives for a non-profit or cause:

  • If you would like people to check out part of your website, like a resource centre, blog or learn more about your organisation, select the ‘Clicks to Website’ objective.
  • To drive people to a website to take a specific action like make a donation or sign up for your email list, then select ‘Website Conversions’.
  • To rally the troops for an event you’re hosting, first create a Facebook event and select ‘Event Responses’. 

Create a Facebook ad by first defining your campaign goal

2. Target the right audience

You want to be sure your creative ad content connects with your target audience in a meaningful way. When thinking about who to target, keep in mind who will be most likely to take action.

  • Location: Reach people in cities, countries and communities where you want to do business. For example, if you’re a local non-profit, you can show your ads to people who are in your community.
  • Demographics: Choose the audience for your ad based on demographics like age, gender, education and more. For example, you can create different ads to appeal to different age groups or genders.
  • Interests: Reach people based on their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. For example, if you’re a cause focused on getting people to lend a hand, you can reach people who like volunteering, and also similar organisations to yours on Facebook.
  • Behaviours: Find people based on their purchase behaviours, device usage and other activities. For example, if you’ve built an app for your cause, you can reach people who are early adopters or who use a specific type of phone.
  • Connections: Reach people who are connected to your page, event or app, as well as their friends. For example, you can promote an event by showing ads to the friends of people who are attending.
  • Custom audiences: Create audiences based on your own donor, volunteer, or email list data. For example, share a customised ad with people who’ve signed up for your email newsletter.

You can learn more about custom audiences in the Facebook help centre 

3. Create best practices for all types of campaigns

The News Feed can be an incredibly effective place for your ads as people return to it an average of 14 times a day. It’s important to remember that News Feed is a very personal space, so for best results you should make your ad as timely and as useful or entertaining as possible.

  • Choose an image for your ad (or a couple of different images that the system can optimise) that is interesting and representative of your work. Avoid charts, graphs, or images with a lot of text.
  • Be short and compelling with your call to action.
  • Make sure your posts are linked to the right pages on your website so people feel satisfied when they click.

Probably the most important thing here is the image you choose. Put yourself  in the shoes of the people you are targeting – think of an image that would be powerful enough to make you stop scrolling and find out more.

4. Choose the right campaign bidding

There are three bidding options for you to choose from: Optimized CPM (oCPM), Cost Per Click (CPC), and Cost Per Impression (CPM).

  • oCPM (optimized cost per thousand impressions) will automatically manage your bid to show your ads to people who are most likely to take action, whether that’s clicking on a link to your website or submitting an RSVP to your event. This is the bid type we recommend for most objectives.
  • CPC (cost per click) is best if you are focused on generating as many cost-effective clicks on your ads as possible.
  • CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is ideal if you are trying to serve your ad to as many people as possible within your target audience. With these two types, be sure to keep an eye on suggested bid range in order to be competitive in the ad marketplace. This is what other advertisers are bidding to reach the same target audience.

Bid your true value. For every ad you run, you should think about your advertising objective and bid the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for that objective.

5. Measure success

After you’ve set up a campaign, it’s important to understand how well it’s performing against your specific objective. Visit your Adverts Manager to see how you’re doing, so you can continue to invest in the ads that bring you the most success.

  • You can make changes to your bids or budgets and pause or restart your ads at any time.
  • You can tell if a campaign is doing well by looking at the metrics at the top of the Adverts Manager campaign summary. These metrics will give you a snapshot of how your campaign is performing against the goal you chose when you created your ad, or on what is relevant based on what you’re advertising.
  • If you aren’t satisfied with how your campaign is performing, you can optimise your ads by looking at the ad level metrics. You can pause any low performing ads and optimise the top performing ads by:
    • increasing your budget and bids so that your ad can show to more people
    • adjusting your targeting to make sure your ad is being shown to people who will find it relevant
    • testing new ad copy and creative.

What success has your charity or non-profit organisation had with Facebook advertising? We’d love to hear your stories below. 

And if you’re interested in guest blogging for us, drop us a line at

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Lynn works as part of the Global non-profit team to develop the most effective way in which non-profits can use Facebook to achieve their communication and marketing objectives. She's passionate about Facebook’s mission to bring affordable internet access to the two thirds of the world not yet connected through the initiative.