How nonprofits can run successful end-of-year fundraising campaigns using paid media

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Digital Strategy,

Reading Time: 6 minutes

End of year campaigns are a key for nonprofit fundraising.The average number of donations to charities rises during the end of year giving period, with 5% more people donating then compared to the rest of the year.

What digital fundraising activities should you be doing on paid media in the run-up to the end of year?  And how do you make sure that your campaigns are effective? Looking ahead, follow Empower’s guide to a successful end-of-year fundraising using paid media.

1. Align paid media with other digital activity

Planning the timings of your paid media campaign around other digital marketing and communications activities is crucial to optimising your outreach and impact. 

By synchronising your paid media campaign with other digital activities, your audience receives a unified message that increases the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

2. Ensure you have conversion tracking in place

Having conversion tracking in place for a year-end fundraising paid media campaign is critical to measuring and optimising your campaign’s effectiveness.

Conversion tracking provides valuable insights into the campaign’s performance and return on investment (ROI). It allows you to track specific actions taken by donors, such as completing a donation or becoming a recurring donor, so you can get a much better understanding of the impact of your paid media efforts. 

From there, you can adopt a data-driven approach to identify which aspects of your paid media campaign are driving the most results, enabling you to optimise your paid media strategies and allocate budget to where you get the biggest returns.

3. Focus on Meta fundraising ads

NSPCC Christmas Facebook Ad

Meta Ads, including Facebook and Instagram, have traditionally been the best way to reach donors through paid media – even if you have a small fundraising budget.

During your end of year campaign, your cause should be a series of organic and paid Facebook and instagram ads to help increase visibility around your organisation and encourage more people to give on and off of the platform.

Try posting to your Facebook and Instagram channels organically and launching separate paid ads to drive donations. 

Timings matter too: As you get closer to Giving Tuesday, run extra paid ads with donation messaging to take advantage of this key period during the end of year season.

4. Optimise your donor journey

By knowing what makes your audiences tick and what pushes them to donate, you can create a user journey that nudges potential supporters in that direction.

Look at the entire donation funnel when running ad campaigns to attract donors and at the journey a person has before they donate to your charity.

This is usually broken down into four main stages:

  1. Awareness: they’re seeing your charity for the first time
  2. Consideration: they need more information to get them thinking about donating
  3. Conversion: they need one final push to make a donation
  4. Loyalty: they set-up repeat donations
A typical donor journey funnel

Use the funnel strategy in paid campaigns to place your own donation calls in a targeted manner (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion).

The easiest way to do this is by defining your target person at each stage. Someone in the awareness stage, for example, might not already know about your charity.

But people deciding whether to donate already like and engage with your page. You can target those people with more direct asks since they’re likely tossing up whether to donate. The job of your advert is to encourage them to donate there and then.

5. Publish fundraising-related organic content in the run up to launch

Alongside your active fundraiser, try posting organic content to coincide with your campaign, such as your impact stories, the year’s highlights and posts thanking your audience for their support. 

Your organic social media channels are also a good place for testing content that you may later build into an ad campaign. So, if an impact story is getting a good response, you can add that creative to your end-of-year campaign.

It’s good practice to keep your organic social media audiences engaged, but aim for quality over quantity.

6. Create lookalike audiences based on previous donors

Meta Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Meta has been saying for a while now that their algorithm is better at finding the best supporters and donors for your cause than you are. What this means for Facebook Ads is that you need to trust their algorithm.

One way to do this is to use the Lookalike audience on Meta Ads, which works by grouping a list of people who’ve already donated. 

The algorithm will find other users with similar traits: If you have a lookalike audience of 1%, broaden that out to 3%, 5% or even 7% and see if that brings you more results.

7. Use social proof to drive donations

Facebook Ads Social Proof to Drive Donations

Adding a donation ask works best when combined with an emotive story. The end of year is a good time to do this, and you don’t need to be bound to the usual Christmas schedule. This isn’t like a direct mail that you finalise in November; people are online during the end of the year and you can do this close to Christmas.

Social proof is important with Facebook donations: it’s much better to get a decent amount of donations on one post than to have a scattering of tiny amounts on many posts. What kind of message does it send to your audience if they see you asking for money and hardly anyone responding?

To provide social proof, you can include quotes from previous donors, highlight how many people have donated already or which influencers or celebrities are involved in the campaign

Including these forms of social proof and focusing on stories could convince your audience to donate there and then.

8. Run an email campaign to coincide with your paid campaigns

We recommend a multi-channel approach for end-of-year campaigns, so use email marketing alongside your paid media campaigns to engage your supporters.

Ideally, you would automatically integrate your donation forms with your email marketing software so that the email addresses of supporters are automatically opted-in and added to your email journey. Like this, you can hit them with emails while the fundraiser is still live on paid media; supporting and encouraging them to raise more.

You could also test to see if combining your paid media and email marketing efforts leads to an uplift in the number of donations or the amount raised. This might result in compounding returns for your end-of-year campaign!

9. Get professional paid media training

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Agency for Charities, Nonprofits and Public Sector.png

It’s tempting to run your paid media campaigns in-house, but while paid media is effective and can deliver incredible value for nonprofits, many are not using paid media well. For example, they might be boosting posts with small spends, which doesn’t result in any real return.

The paid media ecosystem is complex and there are strategic techniques to make ads perform across each channel and maximise the ROI

If you don’t have a paid specialist, consider training – it’s a worthwhile investment. If your team is confident in running your own in-house acquisition campaigns, you won’t  have to use agencies, which will reduce your costs. It will also help you run paid media campaigns in a cost-effective way that generates positive ROI for your cause.

Speak to Empower now about how we can provide paid media training for your team.

Conclusion: End-of-year fundraising campaigns using paid media

As you can see, there are tons of ways your nonprofit can use Meta for fundraising throughout your end-of-year campaigns. 

The only thing left to do is to put these techniques into action. You’ll soon notice that the end-of-year is the prime time for donations for your nonprofit.

Need help with your paid media campaigns? We’ve already had our first end-of-year campaign enquiries through, so this is a call to start reaching out about your charity’s end-of-year campaigns and contact Empower now.