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4 min read

Social Media Advertising for Charities and Not For Profits

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Social media provides charities and other not for profit organisations with the opportunity to reach new audiences and build engagement.

Across platforms, ad formats look different, but what we say in PPC is that if it exists on the internet, we can put an advert on it! There are huge audiences to be reached through social media advertising and many charities are already using social media for their own purposes.

The social media marketing funnel

It really benefits your social media advertising if you can think about it with reference to the marketing funnel.


Here, prospect relevant users with emotive and personalised content.


Re-target engaged users with a soft conversion message, such as signing up for a newsletter or watching a video.


Achieve the end goal, e.g. asking for a donation.


Re-market to a custom audience of one time donors by asking them to sign up for a regular donation.

Targeting criteria for charities

There is a huge range of targeting criteria you can try with social media advertising. The benefit of social media is that there is so much information our there about social media users, and pretty much every piece of information can be used to target users with ads.

We recommend you split test your targeting, so as never to make assumptions. For example, if you know that women in the south east are the most likely to donate, you would want to target them but then also test your assumption by split testing against a target group of women in the north west, for example.

You should also give thought to who your audience is and therefore what will interest them. If yours is a childrens’ charity, targeting parents could be a good idea. Equally, an animal charity might target pet enthusiasts. Or think about your message; if you’re promoting a charity run, think about targeting running enthusiasts – even if they don’t have an affiliation to your charity’s topic.

Prospecting by location can also be really valuable, especially if you want to reach people who are near to an event you’re holding, or to get people to stop in to a blood donation or pop up breast cancer testing unit.

To do this, you can drop a pin at your location in real time, or target people who have been near or live in a location you want to target.

Considering your ad creative

Once you have your targeting set up, you need to think about the campaign ad creative.

Video content works really well on social media. This is because a) users like video but and b) social media channels know users like video so they tend to show them more frequently than text based ads.

This does mean you’ll need to think creatively about your video in order to stand out.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need a lot of money to be able to create really slick videos. Other options include carousel ads, which are a number of images that rotate, or lead generation ads, which include in-app forms for people to sign up or engage really easily.

Re-target engaged users

Once you’ve targeted and engaged your audience, you can select those users who have engaged at the highest rate and send them retargeting ads. This means sending new/follow on ads to people who have converted through a previous ad – whether that means making a donation or a softer conversion like signing up for a newsletter or watching a video.

Retargeting is a great way to reach those more engaged users a second time and can drive more bottom line conversions.

Remarketing to loyal donors

It’s also worth consider how to keep donors/supporters loyal. Again, social media can support this.

For example, automatic placements provide integration across Facebook and Instagram and you can place ads in the feeds of those who have donated before, to keep them engaged.

This technique also works for re-engaging lapsed donors, who may not have donated for some time but could donate again.

The future of paid social for charities

  • Fastest growing areas are Instagram Stories and Facebook Marketplace
  • Interactivity on Instagram stories is a key area. Donation stickers are currently being trialled in the US, but will come to the UK. You can also run polls, ask questions and post countdowns
  • Facebook Messenger is soon to offer an appointment booking service, which could be used to book volunteering slots or a time to give blood
  • WhatsApp advertising is coming soon. This will allow payments to be collected – so could be really good for gathering donations

Key takeaways

  • Utilise the wealth of audience targeting options
  • Think carefully about which platform you are using and what you are promoting
  • Ensure your creatives are personalised for your audience
  • Use different creatives depending on the stage of the customer journey
  • Retarget users and nurture loyalty with social media

Find the slides which accompany this blog here.