Success StoryBest Friends Animal Society

Save Them All® By Driving Charitable Donations on Facebook


Best Friends Animal Society is a national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

Success Story

Seeking to expand its base of supporters and raise more funds among engaged fans, Best Friends created an ongoing Facebook campaign centered around Facebook’s Donate button.

  1. Through testing, analysis, and optimization, Best Friends was able to better appeal to their audience and increase donations.
  2. Raised $13,000 during the test period.
Campaign Goals

Drive Charitable Donations on Facebook

Seeking to expand its base of supporters and raise more funds among engaged fans, Best Friends created an ongoing Facebook campaign centered around Facebook’s Donate button. The goal was to figure out how to better drive donations on Facebook and evaluate the ease of the Donate button against other methods of raising money on the network, like re-directing to their own website. To ensure it reached that goal, the organization regularly reviewed performance metrics on Facebook.

  1. Measure, measure, measure: The first step was to fine tune the organization’s measurement processes and become vigilant about tracking. Everyone involved with donations, the website and SEO were able to get on the same page by using tagged links to improve tracking and Facebook pixels to measure results from organic posts and ads.
  2. Donate button: The Best Friends team utilized the Donate button as soon as it became available and made routine donation testing a campaign requirement. They tested where to send readers, as well as content, frequency, imagery and targeting.
  3. Experimentation and flexibility: The team set up a framework to test the new Facebook Donate button for a month, controlling some measures (day of posting, success metrics, value of the donation ask, and ad spend) and adjusting others (creative, post tactics, and ad targets) for testing. They used learnings from this initial test run to adjust their strategy over the months that followed.
  4. Positive messaging: While a sense of urgency and need can be effective in fundraising, it was important to Best Friends that they stay true to their brand and maintain an overall positive message.
Campaign Creative

Best Friends tested and ultimately relied upon posts that were relatable, personal, and most importantly, told a compelling story. Instead of speaking in broad terms about the need for animals or donation values, a post would focus on a specific animal and how a donation could make a difference in that animal’s life and others like him or her. At the same time, the organization made posts engaging and the call-to-action consistent and clear. They also made responding to users a top priority. In terms of imagery, they found that unique and emotional photos of the featured animals that told a story, returned the highest number of donations.

Campaign Lessons
  1. Test early, test often. Making donation appeal testing a regular part of your campaign will ensure your best content is ready to roll out in time for the busy giving season.
  2. Track your results. Being disciplined in your tracking early and consistently will ensure campaign results are measured in the most meaningful way.
  3. Be flexible. Consider directing donations to Facebook instead of to your website; it may result in an increased conversion rate. Best Friends quickly found that sending people away from Facebook proved only to distract and delivered far fewer donations with this particular campaign. Once they started giving people a full story right in the post with 100+ words and no links but the donate button, they saw much better results.
  4. Be personal and relatable. Don’t use broad numbers. Be specific about the difference a $5, $10 and $15 contribution can make.
  5. Supplement your reach with advertising. You can make sure the right people see the posts and keep activity going for several days. Best Friends found that boosting posts with engagement rates above 8% proved most helpful. Test different ad spends to be sure you get the ROI you need.
  6. Experiment with targeting. Test targeting different users. For example, in additional to their typical audiences, Best Friends tested targeting people who used Facebook payment systems or are familiar with online shopping and who are also interested in pets or their brand. Ultimately, their most engaged page fan demographic was also the most engaged on the ads.
  7. Consider a smaller donation ask to remove a cost of entry barrier to encourage more donations. While Best Friends’ smaller ask of $5 brought in some $5 gifts, the majority were much more with an average gift of $20 or more.
  8. Give it a try and stick with it. It will take a little time for your audience to get acquainted with this newer means of giving on Facebook. As you get more people signed up to give on Facebook, it will become easier for them to give next time.

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