Are you using digital advertising to promote your nonprofit or its mission? Paid advertising can be a powerful tool to reach your people more effectively. But what are the best uses for different types of ads? Here are few ideas.

  1. Create awareness for your nonprofit or for a specific campaign by using display ads. While these banner or sidebar ads on websites rarely get many clicks and even fewer sales or donations, that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. They are great at creating brand awareness, especially in conjunction with other digital ad types or channels (email, mail, phone, events, etc.) that have a strong call to action.
  2. Target people who are searching for subjects that directly relate to a campaign with a strong call to action by using pay-per-click (PPC) search ads. Most commonly these are Google AdWords, where you bid on certain keywords so that an ad that is relevant to what someone is searching for appears next to the search results. A Google Grant can give you access to free search ads.
  3. Reach out to new audiences with Facebook ads that can target people similar to your existing audience using demographics, location, interests, behaviors and more. Ask them to join your newsletter.
  4. Promote important content — such as an upcoming event or an advocacy call to action — that you want your audience to see on Facebook by paying to promote a post so it’s more likely to be viewed.
  5. Remind your existing donors or members about you at a critical time, such as when they are up for renewal. Use Facebook custom audiences to upload your file and target people on Facebook with your ad whether they follow you or not.
  6. Promote your fundraising campaign and create a “surround sound” effect using Facebook ads and custom audiences to reach your donors in conjunction with a multi-channel mail, email and phone campaign.
  7. Rally like-minded people to participate in your advocacy campaign using Twitter ads targeted to people like your current advocates.
  8. Inspire an emotional connection to your cause with a compelling video ad on YouTube’s network. Have a call to action that leads to your YouTube channel or to a landing page with your call to action, such as joining your newsletter.

The possibilities are endless, and digital ads often work best as part of a coordinated campaign with channels like mail and email, which are much more effective at eliciting action, especially donations. Ads can keep you top of mind and help drive people to your website to make a donation, join, buy or participate.


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