If you’re a marketing manager in a nonprofit, you know that there’s high competition for donations and reaching the right people with the right message at the right time, then persuading them to make a donation can often be challenging to say the least.
Today I’m going to show you how to use a combination of content and Facebook ads to identify and engage a new audience, then move the right people from the awareness stage to the donation stage. This approach will also prevent wasted ad spend and ensure your cost per donation remains as low as possible.
It all starts with content. What you need to do first is call out the target market and provide value, upfront and for free.
What does that mean exactly?
Well your target market’s problem that you are solving, is that they want to make a difference with the issues they resonate with and care about. If they achieve this, they experience a positive emotional effect and feel good about themselves for paying it forward.
The problem for you is that these people get bombarded by a high level of marketing communications, all asking them to donate donate donate to different causes.
Your other problem is that you don’t really know who in your target audience currently resonates with your cause and who might be motivated to donate. The key word being ‘motivated’ to donate but we’ll get to that in just a minute.
So let’s look at how we use content to identify the people in your target market who are interested in your cause
Start with stories relating to the issue.
Note I’m saying stories and not direct response ads asking them to donate. You need to connect with them emotionally first and move them to a place where they are ready to donate.
I’m not saying that asking them for the donation right away won’t work, it might, but this approach could help prevent wasted ad spend and create audiences of motivated buyers which might also increase your average donation value.
Let’s look at an example.
Say you’re nonprofit is wildlife based. You might create and promote a heartwarming story about koalas.
You’re not promoting anything or asking the target audience to do anything right now. You are just calling out people who might emotionally connect with koalas and therefore be interested in your cause.
Because you are providing value for free in the form of content without asking anything from them, you’ve got their attention.
Everyone who clicks and engages with this content, including the social media post, has effectively raised their hand and said “I’m interested in this topic”.
This is important because they are now on your re-targeting list. This means you now know who they are and who out of your target audience is interested in this issue and therefore highly likely to be interested helping your cause.
These people that engaged with your content and effectively raised their hand saying I’m interested, now become your target audience for the next follow up promotions.
Problem Awareness Stage
Because you know these people are interested in the topic and the story about koalas is fresh in their mind, you you can confidently promote a new piece of strategic content only to this much more focused audience.
This will further build the emotional connection but more importantly, starts to motivate them to take action.
So what does this look like?
In this example, after engaging with your last piece of content, the koala is fresh in their mind and you know this new audience is connected to the topic.
So your second piece of content could now serve to make them problem aware.
This could be a story about how it’s feared koalas might be extinct in as little as 30 years and the potential ripple effect on the ecosystem this might have in addition to losing the lovely animal they care about.
This shows them the current state of the issue and makes them problem aware.
Towards the end of the content piece, you could mention any small things they might be able to do themselves to help with this that don’t require a significant investment of time or money and you might also want to test dropping in that small donations help too.
At the end of this content piece, tell them that in the next piece, you will be showing them what options are available to prevent this from happening and what your nonprofit is doing about it and how they can be a part of it.
This is called opening a loop and it helps to generate more attention when your next piece goes live. This is the same tactic used by TV shows to help build your anticipation for the next episode. As humans, we hate open loops and need to see the closure of the information gap.
Your first piece of content called out everyone who is interested in koalas and because you were not asking anything from them, you got their attention.
Your second piece of content promoted only to the people who engaged with the first story and showed interest, now shows them the problem and starts to get them thinking about the issue.
So now you build on this and nurture their emotional connection to the issue as well as the desire to help.
Solution Awareness Stage
Your third piece of content then, that you promote to the same audience, could first remind them of the problem, but then make them solution aware and get them bought in to your cause.
So after reminding them of the issue, then tell people what needs to happen in order to save the koala.
You already told them at the end of the last video that you will be showing them what your nonprofit is doing to help and how they can be a part of it. So this is exactly what you do with this content piece.
One common obstacle to people making a donation, especially when it’s the first communication between the brand and the prospect, is them understanding exactly how donations are used and how they help the cause… or if it will help at all.
This content piece solves that problem and overcomes this objection.
Your previous content pieces have firmly connected them to the issue and shown them that there are things that we can do to prevent this while building like and trust in your nonprofit.
Now you are showing them what you are actually doing to prevent this, why this will work and more importantly, how you’re using everyone’s donations to achieve it.
The more specific you can be here the better.
They are already emotionally connected to the cause and aware of what needs to be done.
You might want to show them what previous donations have achieved so they can see the positive outcome and are bought in to being part of the next phase of the solution and trust you are the right nonprofit to support.
So at the end of this content piece, you want to ask for the donation and as part of the ask, tie it back to the end result of what the donations achieve.
The more specific you can be here the better.
You might want to tell people what the current next phase of the plan is to further your cause and that if they donate now, then this is exactly what their donations are funding.
More importantly, paint the picture of the positive end result of donating to this right now, as this is really what their donations are doing and what they are buying.
They can then feel good in the knowledge that their donations are having this specific end result.
You might also want to tell them that everyone who donates now to fund this phase, will receive an update on exactly what progress has been made in X.
Direct Response Ad
Target this promotion to everyone who engaged with all of the previous content pieces but haven’t yet donated.
Other than the people who already donated, these are the most engaged people in your audience and likely the ones who are highly motivated to respond to your call to action and donate.
If you are using video, select in Facebook the option to target people who consumed at least 50% of your videos for an even more engaged audience.
Thy might not have donated previously because they were in the middle of something and then forgot about it rather than the fact they didn’t want to.
Now is when you go all in with your direct response ad to once again remind them of the problem and emotionally connect with them, as well as remind them of the solution with the call to action to donate.
With this being an ad rather than a content piece, also try to factor in urgency as to why we need to act now.
Using the same example of the koala, the urgency might be that if we don’t act before a certain time then the solutions or this phase of the solution might be ineffective or not go ahead, so we need to act now.
If you can estimate saving a certain number of koalas or a certain geographical area with this phase, the specificity could help improve conversions.
So To Summarise:
By first calling out the people interested in the topic and providing value in the form of content for free and without asking anything from them, you identify the interested prospects.
Your following promotions only target these people and make them problem aware, followed by solution aware and nurture their emotions so they are bought into the issue and cause, all the while building trust and likeability. What you are actually doing is building their motivation to want to help and therefore donate.
With this approach, you will only be spending marketing budget to reach the people most interested in your cause…. instead of leading with an ad to ask people to donate the first time they encounter your promotion.
The reason this is so powerful is because it combines traditional branding which connects with people on the emotional level to build trust and likeability, with direct response advertising to drive donations.
Finally we need to mention testing.
The approach described in this video is the foundation.
Depending on your audience and cause, you might need to work harder to capture attention and nurture their motivation to donate by using a longer content sequence.
On the flip side their motivation might be fairly high already meaning you could test a shorter funnel.
You will also need to test different messaging and creative to accompany the story to find what resonates the most with your audience.
If you have any questions about this approach or anything digital marketing related, please feel free to reach out to us anytime.