10 Facebook Best Practices for Nonprofits

This is the sixth post in a blog and webinar series called 101 Digital Marketing & Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofitswritten and presented by Heather Mansfield. To be alerted of updates to the series, please sign up for Nonprofit Tech for Good’s newsletter. Thank you!

Related Webinar: Social Media Strategy for Nonprofits
Related Certificate Program: Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising

With 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. Without a doubt, your nonprofit’s donors and supporters use Facebook on a regular basis, and thus Facebook should be your first priority in your social media strategy.

That said, to stand out from the other 200+ million Facebook Pages also vying for likes, comments, and shares, your nonprofit needs to excel at using Facebook to ensure feed exposure.

1) Set up your Facebook Page to make a strong first impression.

First impressions are important on social media. Ensure that when potential new followers land on your Facebook Page, the design of your cover photo and your profile picture is visually compelling.

To begin, use a profile picture that can be easily recognized in the feed. Too often nonprofits upload their logo as their profile picture, but when viewed in the Facebook Feed, the text in the logo is too small to read and the graphic in their logo is often cropped and illegible. In this example, American Wild Horse Conservation does not include text in their profile picture and their cover photo speaks powerfully to their mission and results in a strong first impression of their brand on Facebook.

A screenshot of the nonprofit American Wild Horse Conservation Facebook page featuring a photo of wild horses and the message, "Keep Wild Horses Wild."

Another good example is The Marshall Project. Their profile picture is the graphic in their logo, and their cover photo is a well-designed, matching graphic with embedded text that speaks to their mission.

Screenshot of the home page of The Marshall Project Facebook Page

To ensure your nonprofit’s page is well designed, hire a graphic designer or do it yourself using a low-cost design tool, such as Canva.

Finally, it’s worth noting that after someone follows your page, it’s unlikely that they will ever visit your page again. Followers will experience your page in their feed through posts and ads, therefore it is essential to consistently use a properly designed profile picture for your nonprofit’s page.

2) Post 2-5 times weekly to your Facebook Page and respond to your followers.

The hard truth is that organic reach on Facebook is almost non-existent and unless your nonprofit is investing in Facebook Ads, it is likely that your organization is investing too much time into your Facebook presence.

According to the M+R Benchmarks Report, posts by nonprofits are only reaching 6% of their followers. That’s equivalent to sending an email to one hundred donors and supporters and having 94 of those emails go into spam folders. That would render email marketing obsolete, yet according to Rival IQ in their most recent Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, nonprofits are posting an average of 5.9 times per week to their Facebook Pages. Posting that often is time consuming and likely a waste of time, and unless your nonprofit has an advertising budget or a large following, posting too often can actually decrease organic reach if your content is not consistently engaged at an unusually high rate.

Even more abysmal, Rival IQ also found that nonprofits have an average engagement rate of 0.066% on Facebook — meaning that on average less than one out of every 1,000 of your followers will either like, comment, or click on any given post.

A graphic showing Facebook has an organic engagement rate of 0.066% for nonprofits which is very low.

If your nonprofit can not invest in Facebook Ads, here are five tips to maximize organic reach and engagement:

  1. If your nonprofit has 10,000 followers or less, post two to three times a week. The only nonprofits that should be posting four or more times weekly are those that have 10,000+ followers. For the past decade, conventional Facebook marketing advice has been that nonprofits should post once, or even twice, daily. Today, that’s a worst practice not grounded in data.
  2. Share photos and videos that communicate the story of your mission and programs. It’s worth pointing out that in 2024 photos are currently the top-performing content shared by nonprofits on Facebook.
  3. Craft a compelling message that grabs your follower’s attention. Positive stories and a quirky voice and tone are the top trends of 2024.
  4. Curate content that is relevant to your mission and programs. There is a lot of great content online worth sharing even if it is not created or hosted by your nonprofit.
  5. Respond to those who comment on your posts even if it is simply liking their comment. Engaging with your followers makes it more likely that they will see future posts shared by your nonprofit in their feed.

3) Invest in Facebook Ads.

According to the Nonprofit Tech for Good Report, 53% of nonprofits purchase Facebook Ads. That’s a good number, but it also means that 47% of nonprofits have not realized that Facebook can be a colossal waste of time if your nonprofit does not have a budget for Facebook Ads.

In truth, for Facebook to produce results, your nonprofit should invest a minimum of $250 a month in Facebook Ads. If your nonprofit is posting three times a week and boosts each post for $10, that’s $120 a month with $130 remaining for special fundraising and advocacy campaign ads.

If that sounds like a high budget for your nonprofit, it’s worth noting that the average annual ad spend by nonprofits is $12,070 which results in an average return on ad spend (ROAS) of $0.48 for fundraising ads on social media. Knowing how to effectively use social media advertising is one of the most in-demand job skills for nonprofit digital marketers and fundraisers.

Boosting a post on your Facebook Page is the easiest way to begin your experimentation with Facebook Ads, but there are many types of ads available on Facebook, including fundraising ads. You can target your ads to reach people by their interests, their gender, their location, and whether you want your Facebook Ads to also be published on Instagram if you have connected your Facebook and Instagram Ads accounts. There’s a steep learning curve to Facebook Ads and you’ll need a budget to experiment. If you are good at being self-taught, be sure to read read how-to guides and take Meta’s free Digital Marketing Associate Certification program.

In terms of Facebook Ads cost benchmarks, here is a useful summary from Web FX:

Graphic showing that the average cost-per-click for a Facebook ad 26-50 cents.

4) Add a “Donate” button to your page and posts.

According to the Global Trends in Giving Report, 32% of online donors give through Facebook Fundraising Tools. Of those, 89% say they are likely to do so again. Nonprofits may have a love/hate relationship with Facebook Fundraising Tools, but it’s clear that donors who give through Facebook want to continue to give through Facebook.

For detailed information on how to sign up for Facebook Fundraising Tools, how the tools work, and whether your organization is eligible, please see #8 in the post, 10 Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits.

“Donate” buttons on pages

Once approved for the tools, add a “Donate” button to your Facebook Page. These buttons allow two-tap giving for Facebook users who are signed up for Meta Pay. For example, see the “Donate” button featured on the Facebook Page for UNICEF:

A screenshot of the UNICEF Facebook Page featuring and aid world and child smiling.

When clicked, Facebook donors have the option to cover the donation processing fees:

Screenshot of a donation pop-up box on Facebook.

After completing the donation, donors are then prompted to share their donation and stay connected by opting in for email updates:

Screenshot of a confirmation pop-up for a donation processed on Facebook.

It is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of engagement with your page occurs in the feed, so most donors will not go out of their way to give through the “Donate” button on your page. Only 3% of all funds raised through Facebook Fundraising Tools are a result of the “Donate” button on pages and posts, so unless you are willing to ask followers in posts to donate through your page, fundraising revenue will likely be very minimal.

“Donate” buttons in posts

The Beagle Freedom Project was an early adopter of adding Donate buttons to their posts and they have raised millions on Facebook. Of course, they have the advantage of cute puppy photos and urgent rescue stories, but they are a good example to study and learn from:

A screenshot of the Beagle Freedom Project on Facebook - a post of a cute beagle and $950 raised.

To be successful at fundraising through Donate buttons in your posts, you need excellent content (written and visual), an engaged community, and an advertising budget to boost your posts. To begin, add a Donate button to one post every other week. Experiment with content, your tone, and your call-to-donate messaging. If people donate, then increase the frequency to once weekly.

5) Empower your followers to fundraise for your nonprofit on Facebook.

97% of all Facebook fundraising revenue is donated through Facebook Fundraisers, specifically Birthday Fundraisers. Two weeks before a Facebook user’s birthday, Facebook prompts them to create a fundraiser for their favorite nonprofit, and to date, nearly $6 billion has been raised through Facebook Fundraisers without nonprofits even having to ask. Imagine the revenue that could be raised through fundraisers if nonprofits asked their followers to fundraise on their behalf (and no just for birthdays)!

To begin, once approved to use Facebook Fundraising Tools, feature the “Fundraisers” tab on your page. For example, Women for Women International:

A screenshot of fundraisers created by followers of the nonprofit Women for Women International.

Next, make a plan to get the word out to your followers and supporters about Facebook fundraising. Most nonprofits don’t want to promote Facebook Fundraisers because Facebook only provides the email addresses of donors if they opt-in, but if Facebook is where your followers and supporters want to fundraise, then experiment with promoting Facebook Fundraisers in sponsored posts, email campaigns, and on your website. You may get lucky and discover an untapped revenue stream for your nonprofit.

A brilliant idea, To Write Love on Her Arms has created a Birthday Club focused on asking their followers and supporters to fundraise for their nonprofit on Facebook:

The landing page for the Birthday Club of the nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms where people fundraise for the nonprofit for the birthday.

To Write Love on Her Arms also uses Facebook Fundraisers for its peer-to-peer fundraising events and challenges. TWLOHA was an early adopter of social media starting with Myspace in 2005, and 20 years later, they are still leading the way on how to effectively use social media.

Finally, make sure to thank your fundraisers on their fundraising pages! According to GivePanel, fundraisers who are thanked raise 35% more than those who are not. Again, an example by Women for Women International:

A thank you message posted on a fundraiser by Women for Women International: Thank you for creating a fundraiser in honor of your special day!

Jen raised $840 for Women for Women International and a “Thank you” is well deserved and it is absolutely shocking that the vast majority of nonprofits make no effort whatsoever to thank their Facebook Fundraisers!

Our Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of social media marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit. Participants will learn how to create a social media strategy, how to craft a content marketing plan, and current best practices for using social media for community engagement and fundraising.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. You can attend the webinars live or view the recordings. Learn more & register!

A screenshot a the Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising offered by Nonprofit Tech for Good in 2024!

6) Create a Nonprofit Page Fundraiser for important, timely campaigns.

Nonprofits can also create Facebook Fundraisers, but they tend to only inspire giving when launched and promoted in connection with time-sensitive campaigns, such as cause awareness and giving days and holidays, and campaigns related to urgent breaking news. For example, a Facebook Fundraiser by Greater Good Charities launched for Veterans Day:

Screenshot of a Facebook Fundraiser that benefits veterans.

To maximize the success of your Facebook Fundraiser, here are five simple tips:

  1. Start with a $1-2,000 Goal. If your goal is achieved, you can increase the goal amount.
  2. Boost posts that feature your fundraiser.
  3. Ask your followers to “Share” your fundraiser.
  4. Post daily updates to your fundraiser.
  5. Don’t launch your fundraiser with “$0 raised.” Donate to your own fundraiser if necessary to get the campaign started because most people will not give to a campaign with $0 raised.

7) Experiment with Stars (if eligible).

Facebook Stars is a virtual good that can help nonprofits tap into the power of microgiving on Facebook. For every star your nonprofit receives, Facebook will pay $0.01 USD.

Until recently, only influencers and brands with a large following and highly engaged video content were eligible to use stars, but new eligibility requirements have made stars more widely available. To use stars, your nonprofit’s page must:

  • Have 500 followers for 30 consecutive days
  • Meet Community Standard and Partner Monetization Policies
  • Live in an eligible country

To see if your nonprofit is eligible, go to Meta Business Suite > Monetization > Status > View Page Eligibility. If eligible, start the sign up process which includes entering your banking information. The good news is that stars are available in many more countries than Facebook & Instagram Fundraising Tools, so finally nonprofits worldwide can experiment with fundraising on Facebook.

2024 is the early adoption phase of nonprofits using stars for fundraising, and early adopters of any new tool tend to have the most success. Experiment, and when sharing content on Facebook, let your followers know that they can give stars. It’s very likely that stars will rollout to brands on Instagram, and perhaps Threads, in 2024 as well.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group uses stars for fundraising, but until this year, donors could only send stars to reels. The ability to send stars has now expanded live and on-demand video content as well as photo posts:

Screenshot of a "Send Stars" pop-up for a photo post.

To send stars, a donor must first buy stars (for as little as $5) which are then stored under Home > Orders and payments > Facebook Stars > Balances. Donors can view a history of their sending of stars and easily send stars in two taps as long as they have a balance of stars to send.

Screenshot of stars sent and a balance inside of Facebook for a Facebook user.

8) Be an early adopter of Meta Verified.

The verification process on Facebook is changing. Until recently, the verified blue badge was reserved only for notable brands and personalities with a large following on Facebook. Small and medium-sized nonprofits could apply for the verified blue badge, but most were declined. It’s been a frustrating experience since verified pages get more organic reach in the feed.

That said, Meta is currently rolling out a new verification program for Facebook and Instagram that allows brands of all sizes to get verified — but it is not free. Fees will start at $14.99 per month per Facebook Page and Instagram Account. Named Meta Verified, the program offers a verified badge, enhanced profiles, customer service, and search optimization.

Some nonprofits will be upset that Meta Verified is not free, but organic reach is so abysmally low that using Facebook without investing financial resources in ads, and now Meta Verified, is akin to the old adage of you get what you pay for. Social media has long passed its “free” era similar to how group emails used to be sent for free via BCC, but now all brands have moved on to using paid email marketing services.

To begin, sign up for the Meta Verified waitlist and verify your page so you are ready when Meta Verified rolls out to all pages.

Screenshot of Meta Verified landing page.

9) Schedule a monthly Facebook Study Hour.

Facebook is constantly updating its extensive tool set for pages, ads, events, fundraisers, etc. and new tools and products are often beta-released without mention.

Pick one day a month and create a Facebook Study Hour. Browse your professional dashboard and experiment, and spend time exploring and using Meta Business Suite. It’s also a good idea to browse the Facebook Newsroom for important news and announcements at least once a month.

Screenshot of the Professional Dashboard landing page for a Facebook Page.

10) Use Facebook Stories and Reels (if you have the time).

Facebook Stories can be time-consuming to create and feedback about return on investment (ROI) is mixed. Nonprofit Tech for Good experimented with stories for a year and the view count was decent, but our stories only averaged 1-2 click-throughs to our website each month. Website traffic is our top priority, so we dropped stories from our content marketing strategy. Granted, our story content was boring, but the time required to craft interesting stories didn’t seem worth it.

That said, if you have an interest in creating story content, then experiment. Follow and study large nonprofits that post stories regularly and experiment with Facebook Story Ads and the Fundraiser Sticker, but if the ROI isn’t there, don’t hesitate to drop Facebook Stories and move on.

Facebook Reels are likely a better investment of your time than stories, but also time-consuming to create. In 2022, Meta was pushing brands to create Facebook and Instagram Reels to compete with TikTok and rewarded reels creators with increased organic exposure, thus increased engagement. In 2024, reels continue to have the highest engagement rate according to Socialinsider, but not by much.

Graphic displaying 0.22% engagement for reels, 0.18% for video, and 0.17% for photos.

Like stories, your nonprofit needs to weigh the value of time invested in creating reels compared to time invested in other digital marketing that may result in a higher ROI, such as email marketing, blogging, growing your monthly giving program, launching a tribute giving program, donor retention, etc.

Nonprofit Tech for Good has never created reels or video content. The time investment required would be at the expense of other campaigns, so we can’t offer how-to advice on creating reels. However, we can attest that your nonprofit can have a successful social media strategy without investing in reels. The decision to invest valuable time and resources in creating reels and stories depends on your capacity and the interest of your staff. Reels and stories appeal to younger audiences, and if you have staff that have a strong desire to create reels and stories, then empower to do so.

Post Updated: April 8, 2024

Our Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of social media marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit. Participants will learn how to create a social media strategy, how to craft a content marketing plan, and current best practices for using social media for community engagement and fundraising.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. You can attend the webinars live or view the recordings. Learn more & register!