How to Fundraise When the Media Spotlight Shines on Your Organization’s Mission

Mal Warwick | Donordigital Account Director Wendy Husman and Whitney Broadwell, Senior Resource Development Officer at International Medical Corps presented a session together at the 2016 Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Jose in March 2016.  They discussed how to harness the opportunity to grow your email list, increase your social followers and raise money when your organization’s issue is in the news. Review the presentation deck to learn more about how to prepare a fundraising and communications plan, how to implement that plan on short notice, and how to leverage unexpected events into more supporters for your organization.

Google Adwords Tricks of the Trade – Part I

With year-end fundraising officially over I thought I would share some insights from the various Google Adwords campaigns I manage for my non-profit clients.

There a few things you should know upfront. First, the campaigns were run on Google’s paid advertising platform — not Google Grants.

Also, my tips are based both on my experiences and calls placed to Google Adwords. Many people don’t know this but you can call Google directly at 866-246-6457 and they will answer any questions you have with hardly any wait time.

In part one I explain things to be aware of during the set-up process in order to get optimal results. So let’s get started.

Ad Rotation
Under the advanced settings heading, make sure you choose optimize for clicks. Optimize for conversions (the second option) sounds tempting but it is only effective once your ads have been running for a while and Adwords has some historical data to work (around 15 conversions). If you choose the second option it can make your ads less competitive.


Ad scheduling
Ad scheduling allows you to specify what times of the day you prefer your ads to be seen. If you have a phone number listed in your ad for example, it probably makes sense to show that ad only during business hours. You can find this under the Ad Scheduling tab under Setup.

You can also set bid adjustments for different time blocks. Let’s say the ad in your campaign may be appropriate to show any time of day, but you suspect that people are more likely to donate at lunch time. You could increase your default bid amount by 15 percent from Noon to 2:00 which will make it more competitive. A bid of $1.00 would then increase to $1.15.


Location Preference
If you reviewed your Google Analytics account you may notice that people from certain countries are donating in greater numbers than others. You can use location preferences to target all the countries you are interested in targeting and then bid adjustments to increase your bid for those countries where people are donating from the most. The location preference can be found under the location tab under settings.


Device Preference
There’s a lot of discussion about mobile optimized websites these days. This is absolutely true but the jury is still out as to whether people are actually making donations from their mobile devices. A current client of mine received only six percent of its donations from mobile devices in December for example. Once again using bid adjustments you might want to reduce your ad expenditure on mobile devices as seen below. Of course if you were running a mobile only ad this wouldn’t make any sense but for a standard ad it probably does.


Hopefully these set-up tips will help maximize your Adwords success. In part two I’ll delve in deeper and explain the ins and outs of managing display ads, including targeting audiences and making adjustments as your data starts coming in.

photo-thumb-brett-2Brett Gerstein is Donordigital’s Director of Search Marketing. Brett works with Donordigital clients to optimize their web initiatives through search engine optimization and online paid advertising. He has over twelve years of experience providing online marketing advice to NGOs, Members of Congress, and for-profits.

Facebook rolling out changes to its Advertising services

At Donordigital, we manage Facebook Advertising projects for several of our clients. In early June 2013, Facebook announced plans to streamline the number of advertising units from 27 to fewer than half of that, and they’ll be rolling out these changes over the next five months. Let’s look at the current landscape of Facebook Advertising, while touching on anticipated changes, and how it might impact nonprofits using Facebook.

Currently, Facebook Advertising belongs to one of two categories: Ads or Sponsored stories.

Ads – Voice of the organization

For Facebook ads in this category, you as a nonprofit advertiser are in full control of all creative elements of the ad. This means you control the title of the ad, the imagery and any text that goes with it. The two most common distinct formats for ads are:

  • Standard ads: A standard ad is the traditional Facebook ad you find on the right hand side across the site on dedicated ad placements on Facebook. That means the right-hand side of the Facebook homepage, events, pages, user profiles, apps and next to photos in photo albums. Standard ads pointing to Facebook Pages are also eligible to show in the News feed on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Page post ads: Page post ads are Facebook page posts that are promoted in order to increase their reach. Due to their nature, they are eligible to show on all Facebook placements. This includes the News Feed on both mobile and desktop. Turning a page post into a page post ad by promoting it doesn’t change the original post in terms of appearance – only in terms of distribution. This means that Facebook users interact with a page post ad the same way they would with an unsponsored page post.

Sponsored stories – Voice of a friend

With sponsored stories, each time someone interacts with one of your Facebook entities a story is created. The content of the story can be that someone likes your page or one of our page posts, uses your app or is going to your event – to name a few. You could say a person’s action becomes a recommendation rather than an ad. For nonprofits, sponsored stories can be a powerful marketing message, since it shows a friend interacting with your content, which can be a big influencer. One big change expected in the next few months: sponsored stories will essentially disappear as a separate ad unit. Instead, these social context elements will be rolled into Ads, such as page post ads.

Custom Audiences

Another recent addition to Facebook Advertising is the introduction of Custom Audiences. This service allows you to target your ads at people for whom you have email addresses. The Custom Audience tool will match up people on your list to their Facebook profiles based on email address, Facebook user ID or phone number; however, email address will most likely be the record information you will be using for the match. We’ve seen this used very effectively in multi-channel campaigns, whereby nonprofits can target people on Facebook that have received solicitations in the mail, assuming you have their email address in their constituent record. The Custom Audiences tool is accessed through the Power Editor, which is found in the Facebook Ads Manager. List files need to be the CSV or TXT format. Once uploaded, this list will be saved and can be used as a target audience for your next Facebook ad campaign (or can even be used as an exclusion audience!).

Laura Domingo is an Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.

Optimizing Facebook display advertising results through audience testing

With social media a growing component of major nonprofit campaigns, organizations need to be prepared to jumpstart the conversation online and drive engagement for their cause.  This Case Study of our work with the National Parkinson Foundation showcases how we spoke to those they most wanted to engage by targeting the right Facebook groups with the right message, while maximizing a limited budget.  This hands-on Case Study examines how nonprofits can use Facebook Advertising to drive potential supporters to you, giving them opportunities to engage in your mission.

About the Client: For over half a century, the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) has focused on meeting the needs in the care and treatment of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). NPF has funded more than $172 million in care, research and support services. Unique among other Parkinson’s organizations, NPF has a singular focus — their mission is to improve the quality of care through research, education and outreach.

About the Campaign: The Aware in Care: 10,000 Kits for 10,000 likes Facebook campaign was part of the larger Aware in Care program launch. Aware in Care is an amazing NPF program that aims to help people with Parkinson’s disease get the best care possible during a hospital stay. The Aware in Care kit contains tools and information to protect, prepare and empower people with Parkinson’s before, during and after a hospital visit. The 10,000 Kits for 10,000 likes Facebook campaign gave users a chance to have a free kit delivered to a patient in need just by liking NPF. And by driving Facebook likes, NPF also drove larger awareness of the campaign, which allowed those who needed a kit for themselves or a family member to also order online.

About the Results: By finding the best responding audience, NPF drove engagement with a 92% conversion rate, while optimizing budget by lowering the cost per like by up to 30%, giving them almost 30% more voice to start the conversation with!

Download the free Case Study

8 good online fundraising resources that help us learn

While the basic principles of online fundraising aren’t changing fast, the tools and tests of the ways that work are.  So it’s really worthwhile to keep up with the cleverest people in the world who are writing about them.  Here are 10 sources that can help you raise more money (and avoid some big mistakes).  Most are available as email newsletters, RSS feeds, or apps.

  1. The Agitator.  If your organization is cutting its budget and you can only afford one daily email, this is the one!  (Just kidding, it’s free.) Tom Belford and Roger Craver consistently find the most important research and campaigns and write passionately about them.
  2. Mashable, the indispensable mega-site covering social media, includes substantial coverage of nonprofit issues in the “social good” section.
  3. Beth Kanter.  Whether she’s in Beirut or Boston, Beth manages to turn out a daily post which usually contains at least one nugget, if not a complete how-to on a new trend in social networking. Sample: “I had the pleasure of experimenting with a text polling app to find out the composition of the audience and their experience with…how to integrate the use of mobile technology into multi-channel campaigns with an emphasis on social…    So, while we were waiting,  I asked the panelists to take bets….”
  4. Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog.  Katya Andresen, COO of Network for Good, always has useful and provocative ideas on online marketing.
  5. Kira Marchenese’s Online Communications for Nonprofits. Insights on social media and web usability for nonprofits always has news you can use.  In recent posts, Kira, director of Internet communications at Environmental Defense Fund, writes about RFPs and “why most Facebook marketing doesn’t work.”
  6. Chronicle of Philanthropy’s daily “Philanthropy Today” newsletter.  Indispensible coverage of the sector based on the Chronicle’s own excellent stories as well as major media coverage.
  7. Mark Phillips’ “Queer Ideas.” The head of London’s Bluefrog agency explores what’s working and what’s not from the UK point of view.  From a recent post: “Choice is becoming a buzzword in fundraising. But just how important is it? …organisations like Kiva, DonorsChoose and CRUK (with MyProjects) have done rather well by offering people a chance to decide how their donations are used. …But is choice the key factor that lies behind this level of fundraising success?”
  8. UK Fundraising.  A UK version of the Chronicle, this weekly newsletter includes news you can use even if you’ve never heard of the organizations making it. Sample: “As part of its annual Cards for a Cure™ campaign, Hallmark Cards is asking adults and children to declare their love for their mother on an online ‘Mums Wall’, with the most ‘liked’ messages turned into…”

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: or phone (510) 473-0366.