As pandemic-hit charities increasingly turn to digital channels to fundraise and run their services, some are venturing into online advertising to boost their visibility online and keep crucial relationships with supporters going
While many are focused on weathering the storm, others are exploring ways to stay front of mind in the digital world in which we’re all spending a lot more time, or taking time to research new strategies and opportunities for after it subsides.
Charities supporting the most vulnerable are facing unprecedented challenges, and as a result, just over one in five (22%) of people say they will donate more money to charity, with around a third of those prioritising local charities.
Allocating budget towards digital advertising can be an understandably daunting prospect. But putting increased effort into online advertising can have many benefits for charities and prove to be an investment that pays off over time if done right.
There are also free tools and grants available for charities to drive their online advertising efforts, as we’ll explain below.
Here are a few types of online advertising that charities should know about.
Google search ads can help plug the gaps in organic search and reach the interested people online who you’re potentially missing, ensuring your site gets found, as charities like the Terrence Higgins Trust and Samaritans recently explained.
PPC advertising allows you to present your result at the top of Google search results when users search for a specific keyword, and are run through a Per Pay Click (PPC) model, in which advertisers pay for each ad click. Organisations pay each time someone clicks on the ad to a landing page on their website, hence the term ’Pay-Per-Click’.
There is some learning required as just like in organic SEO there’s a bit of an art to it, but essentially you ’bid’ for specific keywords against other advertisers, which determines how much you pay for your ad per click and how high up the page your ad appears.
Luckily, this can be very cost-effective for charities as Google offers the chance to advertise completely for free through its Google Ad Grants programme. Eligible charities can get a $10,000 (around £7,500) each month to spend towards Google PPC advertising.
A staggering fifth or more of the world’s population is subscribed to Facebook, and research suggests that Facebook use has increased more than 50% in countries hardest hit by coronavirus over the past month.
Advertising on Facebook can help charities drive traffic to their website or grab the attention of potential new supporters. The major benefit is that organisations can create very specific audiences and target age groups, demographics and more based on Facebook’s user data, so you can reach only the people most likely to engage with your cause.
Similarly to PPC advertising, you only pay when someone clicks on your site or profile. However, there’s no minimum budget to start experimenting, giving charities the chance to test out their campaigns before putting more money towards them. Organisations advertising on Facebook can play with different advertisement formats like videos, canvas ads, images or carousels that relay a range of images.
Charity agency Platypus Digital showcases some great examples of charity Facebook ad campaigns that have stood out.
Also referred to as ’remarketing’, this type of advertisement works by keeping your brand in front of people who have visited your site but not yet donated or taken any action. Alternatively, they can be targeted at people already in your contact list.
These people are a prime opportunity for reaching out to because they’re already shown direct interest in your organisation. Instead of being on just one platform, the ads follow them while surfing the web or on social media. This might sound a bit invasive, but actually, the more personal and relevant you can make your marketing, the more successful it’s likely to be - as we explained in our webinar at the beginning of the year looking at why the personalisation trend is dominating the web in 2020.
These ads are timely in that they can be retargeted pretty much as soon as someone leaves your site, and can steer someone towards a specific page, such as your donation page.
The downside is that you need to start with a fairly big audience, and that these types of adverts can’t be paid for using Google Ad Grants. It can be an effective strategy if you already have a large number of people visiting your site who you want to encourage towards your donation page and you want to make the absolute most of that audience.