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Interview: Fight Poverty Through Social Media

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garth_moore Fight Poverty Through Social Media

Can Supporters Effectively Fight Poverty Through Social Media?

Co-founded by Bono, ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. They primarily work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases; increase investments in agriculture and nutrition; and demand greater transparency so that governments are accountable to their citizens.

They are a unique organization in that they do not raise money for their organization, but work through advocacy and campaigning to ensure that government funds continue to flow to programs that make a difference in people’s lives.

Their name was inspired by the belief that one voice, coming together with many others—the political left and right, business leaders, activists, faith leaders and students—can change the world for the better.

Recently, we had the pleasure to talk with Garth Moore, the U.S. Digital Director at ONE. We got the chance to ask him about the work of the ONE Campaign, how he uses Facebook to support his goals, and giving his supporters a voice.

Here’s what he had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with the ONE Campaign?

Garth Moore (GM): ONE is a really unique organization in that we don’t fundraise, we don’t have a direct mail list, or any of the other trappings of a lot of nonprofits. We’re a bit more nimble and can turn our attention as needed when events occur that fall within our mission to end extreme poverty. Plus, ONE is a fun brand that’s very pliable and can mean a lot of different things to different people, which opens up the way we communicate, especially on social.

Fight Poverty Through Social Media logo

(AS): It’s been said that the current generation may be one of the most passionate about change we’ve seen in a while. Does your experience support this?

(GM): Yes, we have a Campus program in the States and a Youth Ambassador program in Europe. We’ve also worked with youth in Africa. All of them are highly energetic and engaged. They’ll be the generation that will be crucial if we want to beat extreme poverty in the next 15 years.

Fight Poverty Through Social Media next gen

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(GM): ONE is more than one person or a group of celebrities. ONE is made up of more than 6 million people globally who receive our alerts and support our mission. These supporters are who we call “members”. We’ll never ask members for money; we just ask them to use their voices, e.g. signing a petition, writing a letter, or making a call when we need to push governments and world leaders to fund programs that help end poverty.

(AS): What do you think will change about the ONE Campaign over the next five years?

(GM): We are growing with African membership and starting to attract younger demographics in North America and Europe. We hope that with this fabric of membership to have these voices talk with each other and create a network of activists that stretch across the globe.

Fight Poverty Through Social Media campaign france

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(GM): It’s constantly evolving as Facebook changes their algorithms. Originally, Facebook felt more like a broadcast medium. But, as our base has grown on it, so has our strategy. Facebook leads people to ONE with our great content; engages members with local event postings and comments; and gets people to take action on our issues (primarily signing petitions, but also doing other things).

(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the cause you support?

(GM): The economic collapse of 2008 made it tougher for governments to support poverty-fighting programs. But these programs across the world make up less than 1% of most governments’ total budgets. And most of the world’s poorest countries are still in Africa. So our challenge is trying to convince potential members that governments spend very little on programs that save lives and that with the right kind of pressure, these governments can do more to help end poverty.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)

(GM): ONE has several Facebook channels and we post to our main channel probably 4–7 times a day. Our audience is pretty responsive and we encourage them to comment, ask questions, and even push back on our content or actions. We don’t shy away from engaging directly with our members—we love it!

Fight Poverty Through Social Media facebook page

Like most organizations, our fans love listicles and photo albums! We also try to make sure to share news items with them and keep them informed on when our issues make the news. And our fans love content on girls and women programs, which is a big focus in our work this year.

(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?

(GM): We put items like petitions on both our site and in ActionSprout, then do a few promoted posts to see which ones do better.

(AS): Tell us about a successful action. Can you tell us what went into creating the Action?

(GM): Our best action, so far, has been our Poverty is Sexist petition. There will be new development goals for the world decided on this year, and we think the key to success in beating poverty starts with supporting girls and women. Our petition tells world leaders to put their issues on the forefront of the new global goals to end poverty.

We had thousands of petition signers within a day or two. Then, when we reposted the action a month later, we got even more signers. It’s our flagship petition for the year leading up to the United Nations Week in September, so we’ll run it a few more times and expect great results.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? Is there anything you do differently now?

(GM): Our actions with the broadest appeal do better. Now we want to test language and images to see what works and what will inspire people to add their name to an action that already has almost 1 million names on it.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

(GM): We learned that a few of them take more than one action. We love these members! So, we want to get every action that will be on the site into ActionSprout and then really target our Facebook Page likers to take these actions in Facebook.

Fight Poverty Through Social Media campaign

(AS): How did you measure the success of this action? What metrics did you focus on?

(GM): We focus on the number of actions and some ROI with ads/click-through. Because we use ActionSprout mainly for our petitions, we want big numbers to help us make our case with leaders.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?

(GM): Test! Test! Test! Test petition or event headlines and language. Test the same action with 3–4 images and see which one does the best. Test 2–3 promoted posts against each other to see which ones drive the most actions. You could do a test a week and in one month, have a highly optimized action and way to promote it. It’s worth carving 3–4 hours max each week to do it.


  • Broadcasting channel to community outlet. Over time, Facebook Pages have shifted from broadcast channels to places of community engagement. Fans today come to Pages with the expectation of community involvement and participation. They expect an answer to their comments and questions, and desire a connection with Page managers. It’s important to keep this frame of mind when running your Page. The more you can create and encourage this atmosphere, the more successful your Page will be.
  • Repost actions for even greater engagement. Garth states that reposting one of his most successful actions led to even more success. This is an important example that illustrates the significance of reposting: even successful actions can benefit from being reposted. We recommend reposting each action 3–4 times for maximum results. Many organizations have even enjoyed success reposting actions hundreds of times.
  • Test everything. As Garth states, one of the most powerful things you can do is test and experiment. You’ll never truly know what will lead the most people to take action for your cause unless you experiment with different angles, asks and formats. You have little to lose and much to gain in the game of testing
  • Post multiple times a day on Facebook. This gives your supporters lots of opportunities to engage with your content and mission. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to complete your actions.

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NARAL Interview: The Leader in Reproductive Rights

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rebecca_wall Reproductive rights

Fighting to Protect and Expand Reproductive Rights

NARAL Pro-Choice America is a powerhouse organization that Fortune Magazine once described as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America”. Made up of pro-choice women and men across the United States, they fight to protect and expand reproductive rights through:

  • Lobbying Congress to convince elected representatives to support the right to choose.
  • Organizing women and men to make sure that lawmakers hear from the pro-choice people they represent.
  • Connecting what happens in Congress or in the states to how it affects the ability to make private decisions, like choosing legal abortion.
  • Working with state affiliates to advance ideas that are good for women’s freedom.

Recently we had the pleasure to sit down with their Digital Media Associate, Rebecca Wall. We asked her about the challenges of her work, moving supporters to action, and the future of NARAL.

Here’s what she had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Rebecca Wall (RW): I started managing social media communications when I came to NARAL Pro-Choice America in May 2014, so for 1 year.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with NARAL Pro-Choice America?

(RW): NARAL has long been a leader in the movement for reproductive freedom, and I’ve been a supporter of gender equality and the right to choose for as long as I can remember—I attended my first NARAL Pro-Choice America march when I was only 2 years old! (And here’s the photographic evidence to prove it!)

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 1.52.03 PM

(AS): The interest in reproduction rights seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?

(RW): This is one of our most basic, fundamental human rights: the right to decide if, how, when and with whom we have children. Anti-choice politicians have been trying to chip away at that right at exceptional rates, and people are outraged by that.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(RW): NARAL Pro-Choice America is an organization full of exceptional people who are dedicated to reproductive freedom and full equality in their very core. Everyone here cares a lot about not only birth control and abortion access, but also about maternal health, equal pay and social justice.

(AS): What do you think will change about NARAL over the next five years?

(RW): NARAL is in the midst of a huge culture shift, which has allowed us to be more and more open to trying new things in the online sphere in order to make it clear that 7 in 10 Americans support reproductive freedom and want politicians to quit playing doctor, which is really fun to be a part of. We try to respond to things quickly and aren’t afraid to try new things.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(RW): We did a huge dive recently into what were the optimal times to post, how our audience responds to certain posts, and what performs well. As a result, we’ve been able to get to know what our audience likes and responds to, and post content that will do really well for us.

(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the cause you support?

(RW): I think the most challenging aspect of my job is that the content on the Internet and the potential of things you can do on social media is vast and never-ending; there’s always so much more to explore! As far as the cause: when I first started, I found the anti-choice comments to be a little challenging; nothing can prepare you for the extreme, horrible things that anti-choice activists say about women.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 2.22.56 PM

(RW): Our Facebook audience is super involved and passionate about our issue, which is amazing! They love links to articles, and we try to post between 4–6 times per day during the week; 3–4 on weekends.

(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?

(RW): We use ActionSprout for all our petitions on Facebook, and it’s really upped our number of action-takers that we get from social media overall.

(AS): Tell us about a successful action. Can you tell us what went into creating the Action?

(RW): One of our most successful actions came from this past month, when the House of Representatives passed a 20-week abortion ban. We really capitalized on the anger and outrage that so many were feeling about what was happening.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? Is there anything you do differently now?

(RW): Broadly speaking, we discovered that sometimes, it’s the most simple and basic appeals that have the most impact.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

(RW): We learned that when it comes to these basic human rights, people are ready to do whatever it takes to protect them.

(AS): How did you measure the success of this action? What metrics did you focus on?

(RW): We focused primarily on the number of action-takers we had and the engagement on the Facebook post itself.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?

(RW): Don’t be afraid to try something new! You never know when it might work out in your favor.

Key Takeaways:

Dive into the data! Take a deep dive into your Facebook Insights and learn what’s working for your audience. What types of content gets them engaged? What are the best times to post? The answers to questions like this will allow you to greatly engage with and reach your supporters.

facebook insights reproductive rights

Don’t be afraid to post. Rebecca states that she posts 4–6 times a day and 3–4 times a day on weekends. Depending on your Page, that may seem like a lot. Believe us, it’s not. Each time you post, you’re only reaching a portion of your audience. Posting often and consistently enables you to reach and engage more of your supporters.

Act quickly. Timely stories and news tends to perform the best, regardless of Page or audience. The hard part is catching trends as they are rising. Keeping your eyes and ears open, and being in the practice of being ready will pay serious dividends in reach and engagement.

Need more social mojo?

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Interview: Policy Reform Through Social Media

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alex_shashlo Policy Reform Through Social Media

How the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform Influences Policy Reform Through Social Media

Since 2011, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) has organized, energized, and empowered people to stand up and advocate for reform in cannabis policy. They work with the public and legislators, developing responsible solutions through legislative collaboration, public education, and ballot initiative campaigns.

Alex Shashlo, from Joe Trippi & Associates, currently advises CCPR on their social media strategy and campaigns. We recently had the chance to sit down with Alex to talk about giving activists a voice, how he engages supporters from all walks of life, and influencing policy reform through social media. Here’s what he had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Alex Shashlo: I’ve been with Trippi since the end of the 2012 cycle. I’m fortunate to be able to build and mobilize some amazing movements—particularly online. Joe’s been a pioneer in the online activism space since the early days of the Internet, starting with Howard Dean’s groundbreaking online campaign.

(AS):The interest in legalization seems to be growing… Why do you think that is?

Alex: It’s such a varied and diverse movement, so there are a lot of answers to that question. For a lot of voters, Colorado and Washington opened the door, showing that legalization is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about CCPR?

Alex: The growth of the movement has been amazing. CCPR has been holding roundtables across California and the grassroots participation has been incredible. We’re always getting questions about when the next one will take place, and that speaks to how strong the base of the movement really is, and how many Californians are ready for reform.

ccpr logo Policy Reform Through Social Media

(AS): What do you think will change about CCPR over the next five years?

Alex: Well, in the next 18 months, we’re building a movement in California that we expect will carry us toward legalization in 2016. It’s time to end the backwards prohibition on cannabis consumption for adults. Beyond 2016, we expect that movement to continue growing across the country.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

Alex: Facebook has always been a great place for sharing—and now, more and more people get their news from the platform, especially their political news. I wouldn’t call it a shift; users are still excited about taking a stand for the causes they believe in, but the growth of Facebook as an information platform beyond just a social network is exciting.

(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the cause you support?

One of the most interesting parts about campaigns like this is always: how do we deliver our message most effectively to our target audience? That means figuring out three buckets: the message, the audience, and the delivery method. It’s a fun puzzle to put together. And with CCPR, we’re fortunate to have such a strong base of support that wants to hear from us regularly.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)

Alex: CCPR’s Facebook Page is unique in that it’s got supporters from all across the political and ideological spectrum that all support the organization’s vision. We get the best engagement on posts that allow these diverse supporters to share their voices—sometimes it’s news from a state that has recently made a breakthrough in legalization, sometimes it’s a personal story, and sometimes it’s a call to action that really galvanized the base. The thing that ties it together is that our supporters are all ready for change, and many are excited to share their voices as part of our movement.

Policy Reform Through Social Media facebook

(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?

Alex: The big difference with ActionSprout is that we’ve got our audience right in front of us with Facebook, and our supporters don’t need to leave the platform to help us grow.

(AS): We love your poll actions. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Alex: One of the biggest developments in the past few years in the movement has been the clear signal from both California and the rest of the country that a majority of us are ready for change. Poll numbers—like the growing percentages of Californians and Americans nationwide supporting legalization—are a great way to show progress. And people are excited to be part of the growing movement.

(AS): How did you measure the success of these actions?

Alex: We love seeing social shares—beyond what we put out—because it means people buy into our message enough to put their names to it and share it with the people they care about in their networks.

(AS): What did you learn from them?

Alex: I think we’re still learning. But it’s clear that content with compelling, simple asks has performed the best.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?

Alex: It’s important to see your supporters as an organic, diverse movement rather than a monolithic base of support. They’re here because they believe in the cause, but they each have their own reasons for that belief. It’s our job to engage them by connecting with them on their terms.

Key Takeaways:

  • When thinking about how to effectively deliver your message to the right audience, remember the three buckets: message, audience and delivery method. What message will move your supporters to action? What type of language do they respond to? Who is your ideal audience? What’s the best way to reach them—email, Facebook? These questions will help guide you and shape your delivery for maximum effect.
  • More and more people are receiving their news from Facebook and social media at large. If your nonprofit can tap into this, it will pay serious dividends. The key is to position yourself as the trusted source of information for your supporters on everything related to your cause.
  • Folks engage with your content for personal reasons: to further their voice, to share content that reflects their identity, or to make themselves look good to their network. The more you can tap into this, the better, as your cause gets to go along for the ride.

Need more social mojo?

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United for Kids: What we Learned Launching a New Facebook Page

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marcus_swift Launching a New Facebook Page

Adventures in Launching a New Facebook Page

Launching a new Facebook Page and building your community is no small task. The old phrase, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t usually apply to Facebook. Building a Page from the ground up is months of diligent work, planning, and trial and error.

United for Kids is currently in the process of just that.

Recently we had the chance to talk to Marcus Swift, who is responsible for the growth of their Page. He shared with us his breakthroughs, lessons learned and some of the surprises along the way.

If you’re in the process of growing your Page, this interview is a must-read.

Here’s what he had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Marcus Swift (MS): I have handled social media communications for United for Kids (UFK) and Children First for Oregon (CFFO) since shortly after I started here in January 2015. It’s been a continual learning experience because although I have a lot of writing and communications experience over the last decade, I have not done traditional communications work since 2005. Back then, I did copywriting and corporate communications work for a financial services company. At that time, there was a lot less emphasis on social media.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with United for Kids?

(MS): I work for Children First for Oregon, which is the host and convener of United for Kids. UFK is a pro-child movement that seeks to ensure that children are a top public policy priority in Oregon. We have nearly 5,000 voters, advocacy organizations, businesses, elected officials, and civic and religious organizations who have joined us in declaring that we have to start putting kids at the top of our list when it comes to the policy choices we make. I wanted to be a part of UFK because I see the immense need for a pro-kid force in the state, and I know children’s issues are supported by so many Oregonians. But there seems to be a disconnect. So I wanted to be a part of such an exciting challenge to help bridge that gap and help build something from the bottom up.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

launching a new facebook page- united for kids facebook page

(MS): Our audience is mostly Oregonians who care about kids. That includes parents, lawmakers, advocacy groups and voters who want more of an emphasis placed on our youngest members of society. We just launched this movement in March, so we are still small, but growing. We are trying to do so organically and as inexpensively as possible, and ActionSprout has been a good tool to do so. One of the goals of UFK is to highlight our partner organization’s good work—so we also post a lot of content, giving them a shout-out for their efforts.

(AS):What does an average day look like?

(MS): I manage both the Children First social media and the United for Kids social media, so most days I log in and check on both first thing in the morning. Right now, I’m more focused on the United for Kids Page because we are running an online campaign to increase sign-ups and likes. I will see how my Action is doing, maybe get some inspiration elsewhere to post. As the day goes on, I often get breaking news updates about certain legislation, so I try to post those on Facebook and Twitter as quickly as possible. Throughout the day, I will post and check on content while also doing other things like drafting content for our UFK blog.

event post- launching a new facebook page

(AS): How has your Facebook strategy changed over time with the growth of your Page?

(MS): At first, we really just needed to get something up and going. We are a small staff and we are often juggling a lot of things at once. So just getting the Page up and completed was a small victory. But we realized pretty quickly that we needed a long-term strategy, so I worked with our amazing consultant who gave me some excellent tips, and we started building our likes, growing the Page, and doing a better job of posting timely and interesting content. One of the first things our consultant recommended was ActionSprout, which has been really helpful so far.

(AS): What’s something you wished you learned sooner in terms of social media?

(MS): Posting fresh, interesting content that will grab people’s attention is so crucial to maintaining a good readership on your Page. It took me a while to fully understand that and then work hard to make it happen. I’m still not perfect, but it’s a start!

news post- launching a new Facebook page

(AS): What has been your biggest surprise so far?

(MS): I’ve been really surprised at just how big of an audience you can reach through Facebook. I was never convinced that social media was really that important until I started doing the work. Now I realize how big of a positive impact it has on our overall communications goals.

(AS): What organizational goals do you hope your Facebook efforts will support?

(MS): We are working to sign up as many supporters of United for Kids as possible so that we can build a pro-kids movement in Oregon. Our Facebook efforts are crucial to helping us achieve those sign-ups. Facebook is also helpful because it allows us to start building our reputation as a trusted source for news and information about children’s issues in Oregon.

(AS): How are you currently trying to meet these?

(MS): We are running an aggressive online sign-up campaign using social media. ActionSprout has been a key part of that strategy. Our UFK blog is also part of our strategy of highlighting the great work by our participating advocacy organizations, individuals and lawmakers. The blog also helps us shine a spotlight on great pro-kid policies that more Oregonians should know about.

post-- launching a new facebook page

(AS): What are your goals for the future? How do you plan on meeting these?

(MS): We plan to continue building United for Kids over the next several years. Our goal is to grow this movement into an effective force for pro-kid policies. We want to make Oregon the best place to be a kid. We plan to meet that goal by continuing our online work on social media and our blog, as well as our email list, but also through traditional face-to-face, on-the-ground organizing.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits just starting out?

(MS): If you don’t know social media, ask someone who does and learn as much as you can. Then develop a plan; it doesn’t have to be extensive or elaborate—even a one-page plan is helpful—but develop something. It will help you stay on task and on track to meet your goals. My other advice is to set a calendar reminder to post on Facebook every day, several times. That will keep you honest and make sure that you are adding new, fresh content to your Page, which will help increase your reach and your likes.

(AS): Anything you’d like to add?

(MS): First, if you live in Oregon and care about kids, join us! Visit and sign up. Second, ActionSprout has been a great tool for us at an affordable price, and the customer service and guidance has been really easy and helpful.

Key points for launching a new Facebook Page:

  1. Post fresh, timely content. People increasingly look to Facebook as a source of news and updates on the people and subjects they care about. If you can post this kind of content, you’ll have a easier time building and maintaining readership on your new Page.
  2. Create a posting plan. Posting consistently and having a rough game plan is critical to building and launching a new Facebook Page. You could set a reminder on your calendar; schedule your posts at the beginning of the week; or sketch it out on a whiteboard. It doesn’t matter which one you pick. Do what you have to do to stick to your plan!
  3. Find support. This is especially true for folks new to social media. Find someone who knows social media and ask questions. Don’t know anyone? Find a blogger you like and follow them. Sign up for a webinar. Attend a training session. There is no shortage of help and guidance when it comes to Facebook!

Just launched a new Facebook Page? Tell us about it in the comments and let us know what worked for you.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Guide to Effective Facebook Ads for Nonprofits

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Facebook ads for Nonprofits

Learn to Run Facebook ads for Nonprofits

Like it or not (pun intended!), thanks to Facebook ads we’re entering a new and somewhat intimidating era of online advertising. Facebook only released mobile ads and social graph in 2012, but boy has the world of digital ads changed!

Sure, you may be an expert at driving content and engagement for your nonprofit, but truly leveraging ads is a completely different animal. The vast majority of nonprofits in your position are just beginning to take advantage of the true power of ads.

More recently, Facebook has performed some serious tech-magic in the advertising department, including:

  • Integration of the Lookalike Audience features.
  • Advanced targeting and retargeting methods.
  • Ability to create unpublished or dark posts that appear selectively…

That said, let’s begin this guide with a few steps that’ll ensure your nonprofit gets the best return on your investment; then we’ll get into audiences, website retargeting, targeting options and ad imagery.

Understand Your Investment

As of right now, there are three ways for you to invest time and/or money in Facebook ads:

  1. CPC/PPC: This method is the easiest to control. It’s exactly like the Pay-Per-Click advertising that’s been around a long time via Google. If someone clicks on your ad, then boom—you’re going to pay the price you bid. Getting people to click is the difficult part.
  2. CPM/PPM: Instead of clicks, you pay a certain amount for 1,000 impressions or views. Do keep in mind that CPM ads never sleep and can run around the clock, so your costs could get out of control if you’re not careful. Be sure to hit the pause button…
  3. CPA: This is where you pay for specific actions: Page likes, app installs, clicking links, etc.

CPC is typically used to generate donations while CPM is more about getting your nonprofit brand out there. Think of CPM as paying for digital billboard space along the Facebook superhighway. Don’t expect as many clicks with CPM, but your visibility will rise with the more views you purchase.

So, for example, if you’re selling a product or service to generate funds for your cause, then CPC is a better option. If you’re simply trying to bring direct awareness of something to certain targeted people, then paying $1.32 per 1,000 views isn’t such a bad idea.

Guide to effective Facebook Ads for nonprofits- control bidding

The Budgeting & Bidding War

This is the tricky part with CPC and in all honesty, takes time and experience to get the hang of.

It’s a double-edged knife. You want to set a small budget and bid low to save money,  but Facebook encourages you to bid higher in order to win the ad auctions and see greater results.

In the end, you’ll need to find a balance. Bid a bit higher and try to stay close to Facebook’s suggested bid range, but don’t break the bank or spend more than you’re comfortable with. It will take time to find the right balance for you.

One thing to make sure you’re doing immediately is manually controlling bidding. To do so, click on Advanced Options under Budget. This will help you better control costs.

Guide to effective Facebook Ads for nonprofits- control bidding advanced bidding

Remember, the cost is based on demand. So the more advertisers there are trying to reach the same people as you, the higher the costs. These will change over time, so you can’t just set a budget and max bid, then forget about it.

The Three Best Options for Your Ads

We’re going to make this really simple so that your ads stay focused. While there are other options and plenty more that are likely to come about over the next year, stick with these at first to get the best results for your nonprofit:

  1. Boost your posts
  2. Send people to your website
  3. Raise attendance at your event

Guide to effective Facebook Ads for nonprofits- ad options

What we just covered doesn’t come close to all there is to learn about bidding. This is a great place to start though. Once you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll want to dive into the following guides. Keep them bookmarked for now:

Tackling Your Audience

If you don’t want to throw away money or ad reach, then you’ve got to get really good at targeting the right people. Facebook allows you to create three types of audiences and you need to experiment!

  1. Custom Audience: This allows you to create ads that focus on your supporter base by integrating with your current CRM. Simply import any existing contact and target them!
  2. Lookalike Audience: This lets you ask Facebook to create an audience that’s similar to any custom audience that you’ve set up. You choose either a 1% (very close to your supporter base) or 5% specificity (gives higher reach with less specific targeting).
  3. Website Custom Audience: This is a really new addition and available to any nonprofit with between 100 and 10,000 fans. To learn more, check out the website custom audience FAQs page and prepare to be dazzled. You can use your nonprofit website or any landing page.

Do you see how powerful custom audiences are? These are existing supporters that are already in your funnel and connected to your Facebook presence.

So if you’re setting up either CPC or CPM, you can really cut down on showing your ads to people who aren’t interested or relevant.

From there, you expand out and create lookalike audiences of people with similar jobs, similar Facebook behavior, geographic location, etc. Once you dig in and see how many different targeting options you have at your disposal, you can begin creating other customer / lookalike audiences based on the insights you gain.

Website Retargeting

If you have a website outside Facebook, then you’re really going to love this part…

Facebook allows you to target people that visit it after you install a pixel every page (which means that if all you have is a landing page, it’s very quick). If you don’t yet have any CRM set up, then this is a great way to gain insight on who your ideal custom audience is.

  • You can choose to target people that have visited certain pages on your website.
  • Folks who have made purchases on your site or web store.
  • Supporters who’ve converted in some other way.
  • You can also use keywords to make things even more refined.

After your audience builds up to hundreds of people, you’re ready to begin serious testing. Learn more about custom website audiences and all the many different things you can do to get more traction with your supporters and those who are interested in your cause.

Properly Layering Your Targeting Options

Tons of people get overwhelmed when it comes to super-fine targeting. It’s normal to be confused but targeting is more than worth figuring out.

An extreme example of the power of targeting is the story that went semi-viral about a guy that used Facebook ads to target his roommate! Here’s an interesting quote from the AdWeek article that shines a light on how he pulled it off:

“On Facebook, he uses Custom Audiences, the program for marketers to upload their contacts and find them on the social network. When Swichkow started his one-to-one marketing campaigns, he was allowed to just input one target. But Facebook has since made it so that you need at least 20 people on your marketing list. Still, he’s found loopholes, like if you’re targeting a man, include 19 women in your list and then set the campaign to reach only males.”

Pretty cool, right? The point here is that Facebook is allowing people to target with their ads in ways no one has ever dreamed of before… to the point where a guy scared his roommate to death, who began believing that Big Brother really had come too close. (Which may be he did…)

As you get more and more focused, and as your custom audiences grow and evolve, you’ll be able to produce better ads at cheaper rates that get seen by more quality supporters who are ready (and look to) take action.

Notes on Ad Imagery

You should understand that we’re moving into a visually dominated era in online media, and ads are NO different. Before you get hung up on the words and text, realize that the image you use in an ad is far more important… that’s no joke.

The image is the first impression and no, you do not know what images will produce the best click-through rates. Only experimentation can tell you this…

Just because an image performs well as a status update, cover photo or in a blog post, doesn’t mean it’ll draw attention or get clicks in the context of a Facebook ad, whether it appears in the timeline or sidebar.

Ad = context. That’s different from information, entertainment or sharing.

  • Split-Test Images: Collect 10–20 images with a good track record in terms of generating likes, comments and shares, and then test them out!
  • Limit Ad Length: Don’t let ads run any longer than they should, which is determined ultimately through performance.
  • Experimentation: The image might be great, but you’re targeting the wrong people. Or perhaps the image is a great one; it just needs to be tweaked?

Here’s a screenshot of some testing conducted by the AdEspresso team. They covered the importance of testing different ad designs in their article “9 Secrets the Pros Use to Create Great Facebook Ad Designs”:

Guide to effective Facebook Ads for nonprofits- example

By all means, you should definitely read that article and bookmark it; but first, which one do you think performed best? Hmmm, nifty animation with a cool mustache guy or the one with a pretty human face?

“The Ad showing a person performed nearly 2 times better than our beloved mascot… So remember: test everything, even the craziest ideas.”

Don’t Forget the 20% Text Rule!

Facebook’s got a tool you can use to streamline how much tweaking you have to do to make sure your images have the right amount of text. And you should know that it works for cover images and sponsored story images as well.


That was a lot of information to throw at you all at once. Let’s recap the most important parts:

  1. Be sure to control your bidding with manual bidding.
  2. Use “Boost your posts”; “Send people to your website”; and “Raise attendance at your event” ads for the best results.
  3. Spend time on targeting. This will save you money and get you better results.
  4. Test images and text. Learn what works best.
  5. Skip the drama. Make sure your ads meet the 20% rule.

Is there anything about setting up Facebook ads that you would like us to cover in the future? Take a second to let us know in the comment section below.

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4 Strategies to Help You Craft Highly Shareable Images

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The Secret to Shareable Images

Remember the old phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, that is even more true today than ever before. Images have the power to be shared, loved, turned into memes, and reach virality faster than ever. If your cause is linked to a great image, that means your cause also gets to come along for the ride.

This can seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty easy to craft a share-worthy photo.

Let’s walk through four strategies to have in your toolbox.

1) Use High-Quality, High-Resolution Images

One really impressive image is worth 1000 not-so-impressive ones. There are plenty of circumstances where simple “Kodak Moment” pictures will always be impactful, but in general, the more high-quality images you use, the more engagement you’ll see.

Now when you’re running a nonprofit Facebook Page, you really can’t afford to make every photo a $100 photo, but…

  • You can share other people’s and there’s plenty out there.
  • You can edit your own images.
  • You can find amateur photographers/photography students, paying their dues or building their portfolios, who believe in your cause!

There are also tons of sources to find great stock photography for free.

Lastly, it’s important to use the right size!

2) Capture Emotions & Results

Think about what emotion you’re trying to communicate to your audience through a certain piece of content: anger, joy, concern or perhaps a sense of urgency? Think about the emotion first, then pick images that are aligned.

Sharers respond to emotion. In fact, it is emotion that gets people to ACT. Thinking causes thinking, but emotion moves us to act.

For your donors, stick with images that show results. Show supporters what your nonprofit is out in the world getting done—what their hard-earned money will result in.

3) Use the Ever-Powerful Collage

The two coolest things about collages is that one picture turns into many and, through one picture collage, you can say many profound things.

Don’t worry, not only are they easy to make, but more and more social media sites are finding ways to make it ultra-easy for users. An example would be Twitter announcing back in March that it was going to turn one photo into four. Here’s a quick breakdown from an Ad Age article. Check it out because there are example shots so that you can see what they look like:

“The change lets users and brands take up more space in people’s tweet streams. Now photo collages have the potential to let them do more storytelling with the space they have and go well beyond the former 140-character boundary.”

Here’s an example from the article and it leads us to our next strategy:

Collage Example shareable images

In a nutshell, collages are storytelling and engagement made easy. Here’s a free tool that will get you started.

4) Add Text or Quotes to Your Images

Adding text to images seems more complicated than it really is.

  • Step 1: Go to
  • Step 2: Upload an image that’s the right size.
  • Step 3: Add text
  • Step 4: Download
  • Step 5: Share on your nonprofit Facebook Page and watch the response.

There are also plenty of meme-maker sites that you can use to make your own memes, rather than circulating the ones that we’ve all seen a hundred times over the last few years.

adding text to shareable images

What are your favorite places to find or edit images? Let us know in the comments!

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Interview: Protecting what we love through Digital Activism

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The Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon Through Digital Activism 

Founded in 1968, the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) is a nonprofit, non-partisan, membership-based organization aimed at protecting the health of Oregon. As such, their work champions clean air and water, a healthy climate, unpolluted landscapes, and sustainable food and farms.

Recently we had the pleasure of sitting down with Simon Tam and Michelle McGrath of OEC to ask them about their digital strategy.

Simon Tam is the current Marketing Director at OEC, and a prominent figure in the worlds of social media and digital activism. His approach to activism through the arts has been highlighted in thousands of media features such as BBC World News, NPR, TIME Magazine, TED talks, NBC, and the New York Times. He also designed one of the first college-accredited social media certificate programs in the United States.

Michelle McGrath is the Membership & Engagement Manager. She is a passionate advocate for conservation, climate action and food justice. Her diverse strengths include community engagement, outreach, direct marketing, fundraising, design, content development and digital strategy. She also sits on the board of directors for the Montavilla Farmers’ Market.

Here’s what they had to say about using Facebook for nonprofits, moving supporters to action, and maintaining reach with a changing algorithm.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Simon Tam: I often tell people that even though I have a few degrees in business and marketing, everything I learned about the subject comes from being a rockstar. I’ve been managing social media communications for nearly 20 years now, especially if you consider the first type of online communities through America Online channels. I began writing code for sites like Geocities and Angelfire, mainly to develop websites for local nonprofits and artists. When digital marketing shifted into “social media”—at the onset of Friendster, Xanga, and Myspace—I immediately began using those sites to market my music. Social was a great way to learn key concepts like storytelling, online engagement, and brand awareness without a budget.

A few years ago, I began running social media for higher education institutions and started writing on the subject for sites and magazines like Huffington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and the National Council on Marketing and Public Relations. As I began doing freelance work for organizations, I could gather data at a much larger level and used that information to develop one of the first accredited social media and digital marketing certificate programs in the country.

Michelle McGrath: In 2011, I started learning about social media as a tool for non-profit marketing—frankly, because I love social media. I’m an outgoing person with an aptitude for sales, outreach and relationship-building, and when I saw that brands and organizations were able to meet goals in these areas via Facebook, I wanted to achieve that too. During a three-year tenure at a small, local food non-profit organization, I was able to use Facebook as a space for online dialogue and to harness co-marketing opportunities. Our brand reach in the community was significantly amplified as a result. Since then, I’ve been helping small farmers’ markets, farmers, and food justice groups to improve their Facebook strategy on lean budgets.

As my passion for social media has grown, I’ve taken courses in digital marketing, and I am earning my graduate certificate in digital engagement from Oregon State University. I seek learning opportunities in this field whenever and wherever I can.

Today, I’m focused more on engagement and conversion rates than brand awareness per se. I know people care about making the world a better place, and I’m looking at how to get them to engage with a post or an email so we can help empower them to be that change they want to see in the world.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with the Oregon Environmental Council?

logo - digital activism

Simon: I heard about OEC some time ago, when they were a key partner in bringing the Dalai Lama to Portland. Since then, I began developing an interest in the intersection of people-focused environmentalism and social justice work. OEC was one of the first organizations in the state to take environmental justice seriously—and as an activist, this was extremely meaningful to me.

Michelle: In December 2010, I dropped out of a PhD program in Biology. A high-profile professor tried to woo me back. I was tempted, but that same day I had a beer with a former OEC employee. She offered me an unpaid volunteer position. I chose OEC over going back to my PhD, and it was the best snap judgment I’ve ever made. I learned more about how an effective, collaborative organization should run in my three-month volunteer stint with OEC than I could have ever imagined. A year and half later, I found myself running a non-profit. The only reason I was able to make that leap so quickly and successfully was because of what I learned at OEC.

I became a member of OEC after volunteering with them because I saw how large their impact was. I love Oregon, and I know OEC is working to protect my home. I stayed engaged with OEC over the years, and when there was an open position in a role I was passionate about, I joined the staff team!

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

Simon: I’m hoping that more people can learn the depth of our organization’s work. Most people have an assumption that environmental organizations only focus on conservation, but the reality is that OEC does much more to protect the state through public policy work. This of course isn’t done in isolation; OEC collaborates and convenes with dozens of organizations, businesses, researchers and community leaders to develop innovative, comprehensive and research-backed solutions.

Michelle: I don’t think many people understand that policy change is one of the most effective tools we have to protect our environment. Personal behavior changes, recycling or biking for example, are extremely important. But policy changes can make sure those behaviors are easier for all of us to adopt. Advocacy organizations aren’t the sexiest, but they are far more important than most people realize. OEC’s theory of change relies on policy change to make our state a better place. There’s a lot of foresight in that, and it looks at the long-term picture over short-term gains. OEC is wise!

(AS): Interest in environmental conservation and protection seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?

Simon: The amount of news regarding climate change, environmentalism, shrinking rainforests and extreme weather seems to be ever-increasing. There has been noise about it for some time, but since issues seem like they are drastically worsening, a new generation that has inherited these problems seem to be speaking up. Also, as more data becomes available, we see how climate change affects more than increasing temperatures: there are substantial effects on actual communities who no longer want to be victims to the irresponsibility of polluters.

Michelle: I think there are two things going on—one is a changing of the guard. The new generations seem to care about the greater good. This hasn’t been embraced at a large scale since the 70s, and it’s nice to feel the pendulum swinging back. The second thing that’s happening is the rise of social media. Images and videos are some of the most powerful tools available for demonstrating the need for environmental protection. They can draw emotion, action and portray urgent need. Social media helps these images spread quickly and widely.

(AS): What do you think will change about the OEC over the next five years?

Simon: OEC responds to needs as they come up—the priorities may shift depending on a number of factors. Seeing how conversations about the quantity and quality of water are developing now lead me to believe that it will become an even bigger issue in the next few years, especially in the face of decreased precipitation.

Michelle: OEC has been a respected leader in engaging community leaders, business leaders and legislators in policy change for years, but now we’re looking to also engage the grassroots more and more in our work. In five years, I think OEC will be reaching a massively larger audience, and will be a much more volunteer and supporter-driven organization.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

Simon: Since Facebook’s IPO, there have been constant and drastic changes to the effectiveness of Pages on the site. The biggest reason is financially-driven: promoted posts are an extremely reliable source of revenue for the site, especially if marketers don’t want to run an entire keyword-based advertising campaign. Additionally, the algorithm continues to change, making it difficult to consistently engage with followers. However, several key trends persist: the lean toward mobile-friendly content and video. As Facebook continues to fight for market share, they’ll focus on technologies that increase user time—and auto-playing video is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that. For Facebook Pages, the way to capitalize on that is uploading directly to Facebook, rather than YouTube or Vimeo.

Michelle: A colleague I know summed it up nicely. Facebook lured non-profits in with hopes and dreams of amplifying their voice, and now Facebook is punching them in the gut repeatedly with the new algorithm. It’s still a tool for social change, but there is a huge cost to accessing that tool now. Small non-profits are having to develop larger marketing budgets as a result. It’s not good.

(AS): What’s something you wished you learned sooner in terms of social media?

Simon: The under appreciated but vital role of Google+. Though the site is almost useless in terms of reach or engagement, it is extremely vital in terms of search engine optimization and prioritization of YouTube content.

google + digital activism

Michelle: Something I’m still hoping to learn is the integration of Facebook engagement metrics with our Customer Relationship Management software. Being able to recognize and develop relationships with hand-raisers is important for grassroots engagement.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

digital activism facebook

Simon: OEC’s Facebook audience is fairly active. We skew heavily toward females (nearly 80%), and the type of content that receives the most engagement tends to revolve around video or narrative-driven news. We post at least once per day, with an average of 2–3 posts per day.

Michelle: I think our audience is very similar to most environmental nonprofit audiences. They appreciate messages of urgency and outrage, messages of hope and messages that highlight a sense of place. Oregonians have pride. That is reflected in our Facebook engagement.

(AS): What organizational goals do your Facebook efforts support?

Simon: Facebook supports a number of areas: strength of the brand, online donations, membership engagement, grassroots lobbying strategy and outreach to new communities.

Michelle: Metric-driven grassroots engagement goals are somewhat new for OEC. I’m looking at Facebook to drive action, web traffic and new fans of the organization. Most of these goals are measured with a conversation rate metric of some sort.

(AS): What kinds of social calls to action do you use?

Simon: Commenting, sharing, liking, clicking, watching, signing, retweeting. Social media is just one channel out of an overall integrated marketing and communications strategy, which involves variations of all of these calls to action.

Michelle: We’ve used many calls to action successfully (and many unsuccessfully), from hashtag campaigns to petitions and beyond. For my job, I’m most concerned with getting our audience to sign petitions, make a donation and contact legislators.

(AS): Tell us about a recent successful social campaign or series of posts.

Michelle: OEC has struggled to earn donor support through digital channels in the past. I’m not really sure why that is, but we were able to run a successful campaign for #GivingTuesday in the winter of 2014. We used email, Facebook and Twitter to distribute the campaign. We had powerful images and a fun meme—”Two Is Better Than One”—to highlight the gift match we were offering that day. The emails highlighted stories, and we took advantage of cross-promotional opportunities through our social media.

For example, we gave away prizes throughout the day and tagged the organizations providing the prize, who then reshared our posts. The most innovative gift was a custom digital playlist. When we posted about the playlist we tagged all the featured musicians, which increased the visibility of our post. A fundraising thermometer also helped us drive gifts, and we asked some of our influential social media fans to reshare. It was an experiment, but it worked for us.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? Is there anything you do differently now?

Michelle: I’m pretty concerned about the rumor that Facebook’s algorithm is punishing pictures. Engaging images were the key to this campaign’s success. We only spent $60 on the #GivingTuesday campaign. Although Facebook advertising is still pretty cheap, we’ll have to increase our budget for the next online campaign we do. We’ve done a campaign since then that had a more abstract ask (become a monthly donor), did not use a fundraising thermometer, had no matching gift and was just less intensive overall. It did not work.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

Michelle: They appreciate deadlines and goals! It’s an old-school fundraising tool, but it’s universally successful.

(AS): How did you measure this success? What metrics did you focus on?

Michelle: This was a fundraising campaign, so we were looking at the number of first-time donors, the number of gifts and the total dollars in the door.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your success?

Simon: Don’t focus on vanity metrics like follower count; instead, focus on a more comprehensive look at what a picture of success looks like. Marketing doesn’t always have quantifiable measures of success, with some return on investment on a much longer timescale than simply the immediate aftermath of a campaign. There should also be qualitative goals and as such, strategies to support those goals as well. Goals should be SMARTER.

Nonprofits should also have better listening and brand reputation management systems in place. These kinds of tools allow for a real-time marketing strategy. I recommend 5 free tools here.

Learning the language and trends of social media can be challenging. I often tell nonprofits to treat it like learning any kind of language and applying techniques from code-switching.

Also, nonprofits should learn how to talk with personality; more like a person and less like a brand. It’s part of an important strategy.

Michelle: Don’t shy away from emotional, urgent language and images. It’s really human nature to be more engaged with that type of content. If acquisition is your goal, which it is mine, this type of content will help you reach that goal through improved engagement. Build a narrative that can embrace crisis or celebration as a unifying point in your campaign, and then when that crisis inevitably hits, be ready to strike with great posts and content!


Social media makes people care. It’s your job to move them to action.  As Michelle said, social media and digital communications is making information, images and videos readily available to more people every day. This means that more people are becoming aware and passionate about the issues that face our world. Now it’s your job to move them to action!

Supporters appreciate deadlines and goals. This strategy has been around forever for a reason. It works! Setting goals influences more people to sign, donate or take action for your cause. It’s especially effective if a progress bar is included.

Tell stories. People respond to stories in a really powerful way. Information is better remembered when presented through a story; stories provoke emotion in your supporters and they enable folks to relate to each other on a deeper level. The more you can incorporate storytelling into your strategy, the greater your connection with supporters can be.

Don’t be blinded by vanity metrics. It’s easy to get caught up in metrics that don’t move the needle for your cause. This wastes time and energy that could be better spent! The easiest to get swept up in is Page likes. The metrics you do want to focus on are engagement and reach.

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5 Strategies to Rid Your Nonprofit of Donor Remorse

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donor remorse

Breaking the Silence Around Donor’s Remorse

Donor’s remorse. It’s not talked about much among fundraising professionals and nonprofits.

Our goal is to change that.

Similar to buyer’s remorse, donor’s remorse is a very real problem that can ravage supporter relationships without mercy. Not sure how donor’s remorse applies to you?

First, let’s look at a simple online fundraising funnel from John Haydon and then talk about where donor’s remorse fits in.

Donor Remorse Fundraising Funnel

This diagram aims to break down what the average funnel looks like in terms of capturing supporters and transforming them into nonprofit partners or, even better, active ambassadors.

But where does donor’s remorse begin? In the partner phase? Uh oh… there’s no more upside-down triangle left for creating an experience devoid of remorse, regret or frustration.

The Impact on Repeat Donors

You get it: someone that truly believes and supports your initiative over a longer span of time is preferable to someone who gives a single donation and then splits. In fact, monthly gifts are quickly becoming your average nonprofit’s bread and butter. Retention is a core component of growth and survival now.

That said, donor’s remorse is probably the number one thing that causes people who could be repeat donors to run for the hills immediately after giving their support. It might not happen the first time, or the second, but if it does… that’s it.

Erase Guilt-Driven Content and Obligation

Trying to find real data on donor’s remorse is almost impossible. But, we did uncover an article published in 2013 on the DonorDreams blog, entitled “Donor’s remorse is real and easily avoidable”.

In it, the author makes this statement:

“I’m not sure about you, but every time I’ve experienced donor’s remorse, it has been because I made a contribution out of a sense of obligation.”

Boom. That really says it all, doesn’t it? Yet guilt and obligation are still heavily used in the nonprofit domain. Why? If that’s you, stop right now. When people gift or give out of a sense of belief and inspiration, they’re more likely to get on board for the long haul.

We believe that you must love your donors, especially after they’ve decided to take the leap and stand shoulder to shoulder with your nonprofit.

Save Money on Support Renewal Efforts

When donor’s remorse is high, retention is low. But instead of putting efforts toward fixing the real problem, many nonprofits go about trying to renew support through various heavy-handed and spammy means.

This stuff gets expensive in the blink of an eye.

And here’s the deal: once someone has experienced donor’s remorse, it’s impossible to get them to join the ranks. When they want to give more, they’ll probably find a different way. Get it? If you want to really do something productive and useful for your nonprofit, then try taking these 5 steps instead…

Step 1: Clean Up Your Online Gifting Experience

Oftentimes, nonprofits pour the majority of their efforts into everything that happens before a supporter makes an online donation. Right? It’s probably like 80-20, with only 20% of all resources going into what happens afterwards (maybe much less).

Put yourself in the gifter’s position. In fact, make an online donation using your funnel and see for yourself what the experience is like.

  • Do these people have a real concrete understanding of how their money will be used?
  • Once the button’s been pushed and the money leaves their bank account, do they feel like they’ve made an impact?
  • Have you demonstrated that gifting to your nonprofit is one of the best ways to solve the problem or address the issue at hand?
  • Do they feel like they haven’t been asked to give enough or perhaps the other way around?

Go through each step. They make the donation, get sent to some sort of page, bells and whistles go off, etc. Realize that in terms of funnels, post-donation is as important as the funnel that takes them to the donation CTA. Crystallize it, and dump some serious love and production value into it! Let’s talk about how.

Step 2: Curate a Personalized Thank You Page

Thank You pages come a dime a dozen. Here’s the deal… they’re cliché! They’re default. They’re completely 100% expected. It’s like the feeling you get when talking to the lady behind the register at the grocery store.

Did you find everything okay?” She mechanically asks…

Then you automatically say “Yeah” without thinking, and get this dry feeling in the pit of your stomach (as does she). No kidding, Thank You pages are of paramount importance and you don’t want them feeling like that. It should be designed not to upsell, but to basically seal the deal in terms of acquiring a repeat donor.

  • They shouldn’t be just a bunch of dry formal texts. Include inspirational imagery, a conversational friendly voice, add some design value, or consider making a much more valuable video that you can embed.
  • They shouldn’t give away the fact that it’s an automated environment. The communication should come across as highly personalized and feel like the page was created just for them.
  • There should be absolutely zero sales prompts or pitches on this page. None. Don’t even think about it. Little else will get people to feel like they’re just another “customer” than you asking them for more.

Their donation really does matter, right? How much? Show them. Tell them. Through curating a really nice Thank You page, you’re telling this individual that they’re part of something bigger and making a difference.

Step 3: Create an Impactful Thank You Email

Again, the Thank You email initially feels exactly like the emails we receive when we purchase anything online; they’re expected. These days, a fair amount of people don’t even open them up because they’ve been trained to believe it’s nothing but automation.

It is. But, just like curating your Thank You page, you can take your Thank You email to the next level by dumping some production value into it. For the most part, you should follow the same rules as stated above:

  • No full-text emails. Make sure that the text, upon first impression, comes across as an easy read. Again, personalized and intimate, but using an upbeat conversational tone.
  • Embedded images, visual design and videos are welcome, but can cause issues for some people depending on which email provider they use.
  • It’s fine to give them options to visit social media pages, group pages, forums or otherwise connect them with other supporters, but don’t upsell or ask for any more money in a Thank You email.

Step 4: Send a Quality Follow-Up Email

Some nonprofits wait a week, some wait a couple, while others stick to the 30-Day rule. Whatever you choose, make sure to send a follow-up email that does nothing but one thing:

Shows them the impact that their donation is having!

These emails have a huge open rate because everyone wants to see the difference that they’re making in the world outside their own little personal bubbles. We love that! We crave it in fact.

Tell them what’s going on. Show them exactly where their money went and what it produced. That’s all you need to do.

“Hey, we wanted to stop by and thank you again for your donation. As you can see, we got the house built and the Anderson family is steadily getting back on their feet!”

Insert a picture of the family, all smiles, standing on the porch… and just like that, heartstrings are pulled in an inspirational way. You could tell them about the next step, or what’s happening next, without actually asking them for another gift.

Where to now?” You ask.

“Onwards and upwards! We just found out the bank is choosing to foreclose on 5 more families in our area and we’re already gearing up to ensure none of them end up in a tent city. With people like you involved, their chances are shining bright!”

Step 5: Produce Results-Focused Content

What kind of a charitable giving environment are you creating with your content? If an individual supporter were on a raft, sailing the flowing river of media coming from your nonprofit, what kind of ride would it be? Scenic and serene, or like a crazy ride on raging rapids?

The most powerful content for a nonprofit is anything that demonstrates results—anything that shows supporters and everyone involved that their work, emotional investment, time and money is paying off.  At ActionSprout, we spend a fair amount of time teaching our members how to use storytelling techniques to ensure all content is cohesive.

You know how you can roll up a piece of paper into a funnel to focus on one single thing?

It’s like that.

All your media should bring focus to the results-oriented storyline of your nonprofit. This is going to dramatically reduce the amount of donor remorse that you have to deal with and increase your reach and engagement. Enjoy!

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5 Strategies That Will Grow Your Nonprofit Facebook Page

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How to Nurture and Grow Your Nonprofit Facebook Page

When we talk about growth, or growing your nonprofit Facebook Page, we’re not talking about increasing the number of likes on your Page. While that will probably be one of your outcomes, it’s not our main goal. What we want to see is an increase in the engagement on your Page:

  • More supporters liking, commenting on and sharing your content.
  • New supporters finding your content and engaging with it.
  • An overall increase in average engagement per post.

These goals will move the needle for your cause and should be your main objective. Here’s how to grow your nonprofit Facebook Page in five steps.

Strat-1: Create a Publishing Ritual

Pages that consistently post content have a better chance of growing an engaged audience than Pages that don’t. We recommend posting at least 2–3 times a day, Monday through Friday. Bonus points if you post more than that per day or if you post on weekends.

Posting this often is easier than it seems.

Step 1: Plan ahead. Stay 1 to 2 weeks in front by creating batches of posts. Sit down at the beginning of the week and create a batch of posts. Feel free to leave room for timely posts that will come later that week.

Step 2: Look back at your previous week. See any posts that performed really well? Post them again this week. The folks who saw them the first time around won’t see them the second time. Facebook makes sure of this.

Step 3: Schedule your posts. This is especially handy for weekends or weeks that you’re gone.

Grow Your Nonprofit Facebook Page posting

Don’t be afraid to reuse your own high-performing content and make sure that you monitor your Facebook insights data so that you don’t keep publishing things that get no traction.

Strat-2: Post a Variety of Content Types

Facebook is crafty; it knows what types of content each user prefers and delivers these more often. So if you only post images, you’re not reaching the folks who like links. Posting something of everything will fix this and let you reach as many potential supporters and their networks as possible.

Roll up those sleeves and perform a content audit. Look at your content and ask yourself how much variety you see. What’s the spread feel like? Too much video? Too many memes? Not enough written posts?

Don’t drive yourself insane with this. Just mix it up, that’s all. Over time, your audience will tell you what works best.

Strat-3: Share Proven High-Performing Content

Okay, try looking at the Internet in this very basic way:

10% are creating the best content that everyone loves to consume. This goes for all types.

20% spend their time consuming, curating and sharing content. These are the content bearers and ambassadors.

70% pretty much do nothing but consume.

Obviously it would be awesome to be in the 10% group; but even if you are, without the sharers in your network, it’s all for naught. There are tons of amazing content online that no one’s seeing, reading or engaging with because when it’s published, no one knows about it.

The 20% group is the engine that drives the Internet. So join the show and become known for sharing the best and most relevant content with your supporter base. This is going to grow your nonprofit’s Facebook Page in and of itself!

How will you find said amazing content? Make use of the Inspiration tool!


Grow Your Nonprofit Facebook Page inspiration

Become a powerful source of information and shareable content for your supporters. Your publishing schedule should be littered with shared content.

Strat-4: Don’t Lose Your Humanity

It’s crazy-easy to slip into a weird version of yourself that doesn’t sound natural. In a way, the online world is dehumanizing things, wouldn’t you say? You get into the rhythm of creating, curating and sharing content; and if you’re not careful, your inspiration and enthusiasm will melt away.

To avoid this, create a “voice” for your nonprofit.

How to Fashion a Nonprofit Persona

Again, no need to jump off the cliff of complexity here. Just ask yourself this question:

If my nonprofit were a person, what would they sound and behave like?

Based on recent data, this person should be jovial by nature, passionate, interested, active and always on the lookout for sharing inspirational content. Plus, they need to be relatable! Here are a few tips:

  • Before you post anything, take special care to analyze the voice and vibe.
  • Make sure your comments, intro-blurbs, prompt-language, etc. sounds natural.
  • Whenever possible, ask someone else to take a peek and verify that the voicing is right.
  • Have fun!

Strat-5: Never Stop Learning & Experimenting

First, never stop learning. Facebook is constantly evolving and changing, and your nonprofit Facebook Page should be evolving with it. Keep your eyes and ears open for news, updates or upcoming changes. The faster you can change your strategy accordingly, the better.

The second half is a bit more fun: Experiment and take chances!

Your publishing ritual should be fluid, proactive and reactive. Have fun, experiment, try new things! Let’s say that again…


What works for one Page may not work for yours. The only way to find out is to experiment with new and different content and react accordingly. Mind you, this doesn’t have to be anything too crazy.

What strategies work for you? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

Get Started  Learn More