2 Ways to Combine Facebook Ads + Email for End-of-Year Fundraising Success

From our new Lift series: A collaboration between Facebook and expert, nonprofit marketers who have developed unique and effective strategies for helping nonprofits create impact.

By Cheryl Contee and Ryanne Brown of Do Big Things

You might be wondering if Facebook Ads are right for your organization or you might be unsure about how best to add Facebook Ads into your mix of online fundraising. Perhaps you remember the cereal commercials showing a bowl of cereal alongside juice, milk, toast, fruit and other foods “as part of a complete breakfast. We’ve seen that using Facebook Ads along with other fundraising channels such as email can help nonprofits build a more compelling campaign than if using email alone. Here are two examples of how we used this multi-channel approach with nonprofits.

1. Target Facebook Ads to your email list

We worked with a major children’s hospital on an end of year giving campaign whose mission is ensuring a healthy future for kids and mothers. Our goal was to help them not just boost their online fundraising but also diversify and increase their donor base.

Together we designed a strategy that featured an interactive holiday card and used their email list as a starting point for targeting their messaging to people most likely to give.

Our collective team developed and ran a Facebook Ads campaign targeting people who were most likely to give using a combination of Facebook’s targeting capabilities including custom audiences, interest-based audiences and Lookalike audiences.

If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook’s lookalike audience option, here’s how it works.

  1. Start with a source audience – this list can be people who have liked your org’s Facebook Page, pulled from your mobile app, a tracking pixel or your email list.
  2. Upload your list to the Ads Manager – Facebook’s system analyzes the list to understand what these folks tend to have in common such as their demographics, interests, or affinities.
  3. Facebook searches for people on Facebook who look like your source audience and shows your Ads to them.

Using images of young hospital patients, our call to action asked folks to sign a card that would be given to sick children and also donate to the hospital. We created dynamic, heartwarming messaging that we believed would spark high social engagement.


  • Drove strong engagement on Facebook that exceeded industry benchmarks.
  • Netted donations that yielded a long term ROI and long-lasting donors for the hospital, helping to protect its future in a new age.

2. Boost email messaging with Ads

Here’s another example of using email and social media together to juice your fundraising. Do Big Things is a proud partner with I AM ALS, a patient-centric organization and community dedicated to spreading awareness about the disease and provide resources to those living with ALS. As part of the launch of the organization, Do Big Things partnered with I AM ALS to grow their email list from the ground up.

We used interest-based targeting on Facebook to find people who were already interested in topics similar to ALS, charitable giving and volunteering. We also designed educational, positive copy and images. Ultimately while the primary focus was email list building, we were additionally eager to bring families with ALS together and spread awareness of this new organization as a resource to help them.


  • Added ~1,000 new email subscribers almost overnight.
  • Spent a small budget – less than $10,000.
  • 10,000 social engagements including likes, comments and shares – showing that there was a supportive community out there ready to be active in sharing information about this disease online.


Facebook Ads can be rapidly effective in helping to promote your end-of-year and even year round fundraising. Facebook has become an important part of people’s lives, especially around the holidays as people begin to exchange greetings, photos and videos with their friends and families. You can start from your current email list and find more people like them or in their orbit. Or you can start from scratch and discover people who have expressed interest in topics near your organization’s core mission who actually would love to support you.

Turbocharge your fundraising and outreach with an innovative multi-channel approach that also showcases creative, human-centered images and messaging that moves your audience to take action in positive ways. Facebook and email together really is part of a complete breakfast… I mean, complete strategy for end-of-year fundraising!

What next?

For more ideas and resources for elevating your cause this giving season, visit our giving season resource hub. See Resources.

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