Fundraise Smarter

How to Use the New Facebook "Donate Now" Button (Effectively)

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Aug 31, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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How to Use the Facebook Donate Now Button for Nonprofits

Did you hear? Facebook is now offering a “Donate Now” button for nonprofits!

All your fundraising problems are over!

Uhhh….not quite.

The move was much heralded in tech journalism, but the reaction in the nonprofit world has been decidedly more “...meh.”

The reasons for such are varied, but a big contributor is the fact that for the last year, nonprofits have seen the usefulness of their Facebook pages severely diminish. Without paying for boosted ads, posts on Facebook rarely see any kind of meaningful reach (even for pages with massive audiences).

Bad news: The “Donate Now” button doesn’t solve that problem. In fact, it might just make it worse.

Good news: There are some ways to use it effectively.

Take this quote from Steven Shattuck over at Bloomerang:

“Let’s say you don’t buy any ads that drive clicks directly to your Facebook page. To click the Donate Now button, they would have to arrive on your page organically within the social network, or by an outside referral.

But why would you direct people to your Facebook page in order to make a donation? Why not just direct them to your donation page via a compelling post or shared link?”

People just don’t visit the Facebook page of business and nonprofits pages all that often. Sure, they might see your posts in their timelines when their friends share your content, but they likely won’t follow through to your main Facebook page. It just doesn’t happen.

So without that option, you’re left with buying ads that you can then append a “Donate Now” button to, which will then be inserted into people’s timelines. This can be risky. While relatively affordable, Facebook ads do cost money. You’ll need to ensure that whatever donations you’re able to secure through this method cover and exceed the costs (and that a healthy number of these donors will eventually upgrade to regular givers).

But let’s say you have a marketing budget to spend and have experienced some success with Facebook ads in the past. How might you use the “Donate Now” button effectively?


One way I could see the “Donate Now” button being used effectively is through a retargeting campaign.

Retargeting refers to showing ads only to someone who has a previous interaction with you. This way, the viewers of that ad are not completely cold contacts. They’ve had some level of interaction with your organization and brand in the past, thus making them more likely to click or otherwise engage with your ad.

While ads that solicit donations from cold contacts who may have never heard of your organization before is unlikely to deliver the results you want, retargeted ads could be an effective way to bring in potential donors who may have perused your donation page previously, but left without actually converting.

I experienced something similar from the World Wildlife Foundation this week in the form of a retargeted Google Ad. Earlier this week, I had been checking out their “Act Now to Save Elephants” pledge, but didn’t actually sign it.

Then today, while browsing some sites (it was during lunch, I swear!), I noticed an ad from WWF promoting donations.


The ad even utilized the same imagery from the elephant pledge page I was viewing, which is actually what drew my eye to the ad in the first place.

WWF isn’t coming out and asking me to donate out of the blue: they’ve retargeted me because I previously viewed their site (twice actually).

Facebook will allow you to do the same thing. By simply installing a line of code on your website, you can then set up ads that will only be shown to people who have visited your site (or even a specific page) in the past. Check it out:

From the ad manager, create a new ad to send people to your website.

Nonprofit facebook ads

From there, you can select a custom audience, and choose “Website Traffic” 


Paste the URL for your campaign next, and you’re in business! When it comes time to select a call-to-action button, you can place the “Donate Now” button on the ad to make your message clear.

Using this method is a great way to bring back donors who may have viewed your campaign page, but for whatever reason opted not to donate at the time. Placing that message in a new context (social media) will help drive the point home and capture some lost donations.

Best of all, since this is a smaller, more targeted audience it keeps your costs lower than simply blasting a message out to cold contacts who will be far less likely to donate.

A Tool, Not a Miracle

Like most technology tools that come along in the nonprofit space, the “Donate Now” is simply a tool that can help you accomplish a goal when used effectively. It’s not going to be a magical new fountain of funding, but with a strong, well-planned Facebook promotion strategy, it can be a useful tool.

Topics: social media, nonprofit marketing,

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