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Select the Best Advertising Medium for Your Nonprofit

Paid advertising is a great way to get the word out about the content, events, and projects you work so hard on. Depending on your audience, budget, and primary goal, the medium you use for your paid advertising will be different. Read on for a rundown of how each of these factors should affect your decision, helping you to make the most of your advertising budget.

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Use Social Media Ads to Raise Awareness

If your goal is to raise awareness or gain new leads, we'd recommend starting with social media. This is where you'll spark the interest of people who haven't yet heard of you. Ensure that your ads are eye-catching and give them a reason to stop and pay attention while they're casually scrolling. Incorporate low-commitment calls to action (CTAs), like a newsletter sign-up, in order to build relationships with new potential supporters.

If you target audience categories such as age, gender, or location rather than search terms, people are more likely to see your ad as they are scrolling. You can get started with social media advertising with just $100 per month. If your organization is very small or new, you might also benefit from partnerships with businesses or influencers. If you choose to do this, look for a person or organization who serves the audience you want to target and partner with them in a way that feels organic.

Try Search Engine Ads for Fundraising

If you're trying to raise money, search engine ads might be a better starting point. People who are searching for a mission area or other related term already know that they want to support an organization like yours, so you just need to show up when they look for one. This is also a great way to regain the attention of people who have come into contact with your organization before but perhaps weren't ready to make a donation just yet. If you plan to advertise on search engines, make sure you make use of the Google Ads credits available to nonprofits. You'll also want to consider using Microsoft Ads, for which the costs can be a little lower than for Google.


When it comes to search engine ads, there's a little more to think about. Not only do you need to consider what your audience is searching for, but you'll need to carefully select the keywords you advertise with. If you choose something too niche, you'll find that not enough people search for it. However, if you choose a keyword that lots of people search for, you'll be competing with advertisers with large budgets, and your effort might not be effective. Consider the niche you operate in and how you can make your search terms general enough that you'll get a reasonably high search volume.

Got a little more money to spend on advertising? Use a combination of social media and search engine ads, rather than putting more money into one channel. This raises the chances of someone seeing your ads on multiple different platforms, which will keep you top of mind and encourage them to donate.

What to Consider When Promoting an Event

If you're promoting an event, consider the size of your event, whether it's in-person, online, or hybrid, and what kind of visual story you're able to tell. If you're running a large, online event such as a virtual conference, search engine ads might be the best route. This will help you to draw the attention of people who are already interested in an event like yours.

Social media ads targeting the local area are a good idea if it's an in-person event like a storytelling evening or second-hand fundraising sale. You'll also find more success on social media and YouTube if you have strong visual assets that will grab people's attention and cause them to stop scrolling to find out more. If the marketing material you have is more "wordy," search ads are likely to be more successful.

If your target audience is in a certain industry or has a certain job title or level of seniority, then LinkedIn could be a good place to start. If you want to target an age demographic or people with a specific interest, Meta and other social media platforms could be a better route. If you're targeting a younger demographic, consider advertising on TikTok, whereas if your audience is a little older, consider Facebook or Instagram instead.

Advertise Wisely

There are many different ways to get your nonprofit out there. Try to think creatively about where your audience is, the action you want them to take, and where that might fit into your budget. You can also play to your strengths: Place any eye-catching visuals front and center, and use paid search to boost content regarding niche content with some popular keywords. Much of the process is also trial and error, and you should track the performance of your ads using a data analytics tool in order to make more informed decisions.

Additional Resources

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