Having a strong social media presence for your nonprofit organization is a great way to fundraise, attract volunteers, and spread your mission and vision to the world. 

However, sometimes just sharing posts organically isn’t enough. That’s why some organizations turn to Facebook advertising. With the right audience and type of ad, Facebook advertising for nonprofits can increase engagement and help you reach your target audience—that is, if you know how to do it!

In this article, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of Facebook advertising for nonprofits. From the types of ads to costs to effectiveness, we’ll help you decide if the cost and effort is worth the results.

What Kind of Ads Are There?

  • Photo Ads: This is probably the most common type of advertisement seen on Facebook. It’s a single image accompanied by a description. Photo ads are a great option if you have a high-quality photo that you want to share with your audience.
A young man shoots a basketball towards the hoop on an outdoor court.
  • Video Ads: 

    As the name suggests, these ads can be either short or long videos that display in the Facebook feed.

    Video ads are a great way to increase engagement and hold your audience’s attention for longer than a normal image ad.

Wordpress displays the attachment details of an image of Yemba Digital's owner.
  • Stories: Story ads are only available on the mobile version of Facebook. These are vertical, full-screen photo or video advertisements that will appear on your audience’s screen as they tap through their friends’ stories.


  • Messenger: Rather than appearing in your audience’s feed, Facebook Messenger ads will go directly to your audience’s inbox. This allows potential volunteers or donors to reach out directly to you and get involved with your organization.


  • Carousel: Carousel ads let you include up to 10 images or videos in one post. This is a great option if your organization is trying to promote a service or product.


  • Slideshow: These ads are very similar to video ads. They incorporate images, motion, sound, and text to best display your organization to your audience.


  • Collection: Collection ads feature one larger image and shows users other related photos. This format is best for selling products.


  • Playables: This form of advertisement is really only necessary if you’re promoting an app. It lets your audience play a demo version before downloading the app for themselves.

Before you dive into creating an advertisement for your nonprofit, you need to consider which ad format is the best for you and your audience. 

Most often, a simple image or video ad will be enough to communicate your organization’s mission; however, feel free to get creative and develop an advertisement that shows what your nonprofit is all about.


How Does Facebook Advertising for Nonprofits Work?

Facebook, and all Meta ads, go through something called the ‘ad auction.’ This means that every time there’s an opportunity to show a consumer in your selected audience an advertisement, Facebook performs an auction to find out which consumers get to see it.

This makes sure your advertisement gets paired with the consumer that’s most interested in it. 

According to Facebook, there are 4 main components that will make or break your advertisement:


  • Ad Objective: When creating your ad, you must also choose the main objective that you want to target. Options include awareness, traffic, engagement, and so on. Depending on which objective you choose, Facebook tries to match your ad with users that are most likely to fall in with your goal.

  • Budget/Schedule: Your ad will be competing against competitors that want to be shown to the same audience. When launching your campaign, you must set a budget and a schedule for how long that budget lasts. However, the highest budget doesn’t always mean that your ad will get picked. There are other ways to determine the winner of an ad auction.

  • Audience: Facebook will also let you give information about your target audience. You can set a desired location, age, gender, and other demographics. Facebook will use this information at the beginning of your campaign, but, as your ad runs, they’ll continue to narrow down your audience as they track who actually engages with your post.

  • Creative:  Facebook recommends making your advertisements bold, fun, and colorful. Your goal is to grab your audience’s attention away from mindless scrolling and towards interacting with your nonprofit. Facebook prioritizes ads that are interesting to customers, so make your ad engaging to interact with.

Now, those are best practices to take when designing your Facebook ad, but what factors does Facebook consider when putting them through the ad auction?


How the Winner is Determined

Facebook’s goal is to create the best experience for the advertiser and for the Facebook user. That being said, they will only show the ad that is most suited for each user. To find the winner of the ad auction, they find the ad with the
highest total value which is composed of these 3 factors:

  • Bid This should be no shock, but the amount of money you’re willing to pay (as set in your budget and schedule we mentioned earlier) can play a major role in if your ad is being seen. The larger your budget, the better chances your ad has of being shown.
  • Estimated Action Rates – This is a general calculation of how likely the user is to follow the ‘desired outcome’ of the advertiser. (i.e. If your nonprofit’s objective was to increase traffic to your website, how likely is this user to click on your website link?)
  • Ad Quality – The better quality of your advertisement, the more likely it is to be shown. When designing your advertisement, make sure to focus on ad quality.

(Keep in mind that Facebook only charges you the bid necessary to win the ad auction, not necessarily your maximum bid. They encourage you to set your budget high so that you don’t miss out on good opportunities for your ad to be shown.)


How Do I Know If My Facebook Ad is Effective?

Just like any ad campaign, the success of your advertisement depends on the work your team puts into it. You need to be willing to set a higher budget, create an engaging ad, and do research to make sure you’re targeting the right audience. 

While there’s no definitive answer for if your nonprofit’s ad will be successful or not, Facebook also offers ad performance metrics to evaluate how your campaign is performing.

With the metrics, you can track performance, engagement, conversions, and settings to see how your campaign is performing and if it’s meeting your desired objectives. If your ad isn’t as effective as you were hoping, it may be beneficial to adjust either your audience or the ad content before running it again.

As you refine your advertisements, you can also run performance tests to see which of your ads had the best results.


Facebook Advertising for Nonprofits: Overview

We know this is a lot of information, so let’s sum up what we’ve discovered:

If your nonprofit organization isn’t seeing results from simply posting organically on Facebook, it might be time to try advertising. Facebook has many different ad formats, so you can choose the one that works best for you.

You’ll have full control over the design of your ad and the budget that you want to spend. Because Facebook allows you to set a maximum budget, you’ll never have to pay more than you were anticipating.

Facebook advertising is preferred by many because of its ability to focus on a target audience and users that will actually want to engage with your ad. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you can adjust either your audience or your ad to increase engagement. (All of which you can track with Facebook’s metrics and performance tests.)

How Can We Help?

Advertising your nonprofit organization on social media isn’t just a one-and-done approach. You’ll need to spend time analyzing your target audience, creating an engaging ad, and making sure the ad quality is high enough to win in ad auctions. Then, you need to be monitoring your metrics and slowly improving your ad to keep increasing results.

If your organization doesn’t have the ad experience (or time!) to dedicate to Facebook advertising, it’s time to call in the professionals. Our team at Yemba Digital is happy to serve you with all your social media needs.

Reach out to our team today to get your project started. We can’t wait to meet with you!

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