How To Increase Donations With Paid Media Campaigns

Raising awareness of your charity’s cause is no mean feat, which is why we know securing donations is one of the most important steps in any campaign you run. 

In this piece, I’ll explore how you can successfully run paid media campaigns for your charity, including industry best practices. 

 

(RE)TARGET THE RIGHT AUDIENCE

The key to any successful Paid Media Campaign is reaching the right people. A deeper understanding of your audience markets, along with their primary drivers and motivations, can help you ensure your ads are reached by those most likely to donate. In the charity sector, we use behavioural science, combined with your expertise, to determine the best emotive language to use in our ads to resonate with donors. This prevents the unnecessary waste of budget on messages that don’t resonate. By considering what your audience knows or think they know about your cause, you can create copy that tackles myths, convinces and builds understanding. This ensures that when they see your ads, we target them with the best messages to drive a donation. 

For example, with Google Ads,  you can include an affinity segment for people who regularly volunteer with or donate to charities or nonprofits.

Retargeting is a great way to reach people who have previously engaged with your charity website, and we can bucket those who might have begun the donation process but not completed with messages to bring them back. This tactic is also helpful in identifying pain points in the user journey, which we can then feed into later site optimisations as part of A/B testing and CRO. Lookalike audience segments are another feature within retargeting that can be leveraged to boost your organisation's reach by going after those with similar interests and characteristics. 

 

INCLUDE SOCIAL PROOF

Any website that is asking for transactions to take place needs to focus on building trust and credibility with users; charity sites are no different. Consider how you can incorporate social proof into your campaigns. This might be sharing a donor’s story and experience with your charity or a story that links directly with your cause. 

Sharing stories with your audience will not only build trust, but it will also help users form a more emotional connection with your cause, especially if they can relate in some way to the story being shared. Our experience has found that sharing individual stories is also more effective than collective storytelling, as it is easier for donors to relate to one individual than many. 

Storytelling with social proof is a great way to help your paid ads stand out and can be especially effective further down the funnel when trying to bring users back to your site via retargeting. 

Users are more likely to donate if they see others doing the same. This is known as the Bandwagon effect so consider how you might incorporate a goal or number of donations in your campaigns. Our research shows that several, particularly younger, charity donors can be quite expositional - meaning they like to be “seen” participating in charity, and they also tend to be more involved in online campaigning than older users. This functionality could fulfil both of these needs for those users.

 

CLEAR DONATION INSTRUCTIONS

When creating your ads, you want to ensure they are peppered with calls to action, but it’s equally important to ensure you provide multiple donation routes for users. This could be a button/link to your donation page or even a phone number they can call to make a donation. You might consider having a ‘ways to donate’ landing page which can be optimised to help users navigate to their preferred donation method. 

Your call-to-action should be included in the headline or as clear as possible on your ads. If you are running display ads, aim to make your CTA pop with a different colour. This can help increase your click-through rate and make it easy for users to know what action to take.

 

COMPELLING AD COPY

With paid ads, you only have a small amount of space to convince your audience to donate, so keep it clear, concise and to the point. Simple and generic headlines are unlikely to be effective, so we’d recommend testing different emotive language to increase empathy and engagement. Emotive language is great for capturing attention and increasing the chance of conversions among donators. 

Below is a Google Search Ad example, where a strong headline and powerful description could invoke an emotional response for users. It also appears to be using the “loss aversion” theory from behavioural economics, where people are more likely to take action to avoid loss than they are to gain. 
 

Personal stories and experiences can be incredibly powerful in creating an emotional connection with potential donors and inspiring them to take action. Use the power of storytelling in your ad copy to increase the chances of them making a donation through your Paid Media Campaigns.

Transparency and honesty about how donation money will be spent can also increase the chance of conversion by removing common barriers around trust for users. You could include this in the form of £5 = XYZ on your ways to donate page, and this is also a great way to showcase the amazing work your charity is doing for the cause. Plus, users will be more likely to donate higher amounts if they can see how it will be spent. 

 

RUN MULTIPLE VARIANTS

By running only one version of an ad, you are restricting yourself to one set of data. We recommend running A/B tests that can feature (but are not limited to) different ad copy, images, and targeting.

Testing is an essential aspect that can help you understand what works best for your campaign. Use the data you collect to optimise your ads and improve your campaign performance. We recently ran several A/B tests for a charity client, which resulted in a +161% ROI and 1,240 new donations in just six months! 

 

IN A NUTSHELL

In conclusion, paid media campaigns can be an effective way to increase donations for your cause, but optimising them with these tips can improve your chances of driving more donations.
By targeting the right audience, creating compelling ad copy, using a clear call-to-action, testing and optimising your campaign, using retargeting, social proof, a clear and simple donation process, being transparent and using the power of storytelling, you can greatly increase the chances of success for your campaign.

If you still need assistance to increase your donations, please get in touch. We would be more than happy to help! 

 

This article was originally published to Reflect Digital on 14th February 2023.