The giving season: a Twitter Ads guide for nonprofits

Monday, 10 November 2014

It’s peak charitable giving season, and Twitter abounds with people who like to support a good cause. Twitter Ads are a great way for nonprofits to capture their attention and boost donations.

According to Blackbaud’s 2013 Charitable Giving Report, more than a third (33.6%) of U.S. charitable giving occurs in October, November and December. Many of these donors are on Twitter. Data from comScore shows that 32.9M U.S. Twitter users have made a donation in the last six months.

Twitter Ads can enable nonprofits to reach supporters during this critical fundraising period. New ad tools and formats from tailored audiences to Website Cards let organizations target and engage audiences, and the platform’s live, public and conversational nature allows messages to spread quickly. 

To help nonprofits make the most of the giving season, here’s a step-by-step guide from our Twitter Ads experts.

1. Start building awareness before the holiday season with new ad formats and Vines.

Nonprofits can stand out on Twitter by experimenting with new ad formats, from Promoted Videos to Lead Generation Cards. For example, Heifer International (@Heifer) uses the latter to expand its email audience.

The giving season: a Twitter Ads guide for nonprofits

According to a 2014 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research survey, 86% of U.S. charities and nonprofits say they use Twitter, but only 9% use Vine. If your organization hasn’t yet tried our six-second looping video tool, experimenting now could help you engage users. The American Red Cross (@RedCross) uses Vines to share messages like this:

The Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) also Tweets Vines:

2. Use Tweets to educate people about the impact of their donations.

Before giving, users like to see how their contribution will benefit others. We recommend regularly showcasing your organization’s success using photos, quotes, statistics and stories. Below, Doctors Without Borders (@MSF_USA) uses a GIF to share the impact of their measles vaccination work in numbers and images.

3. Rally donors around #GivingTuesday using keyword-targeted Promoted Tweet campaigns.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, people around the world will celebrate #GivingTuesday, a new holiday designed to encourage generosity. Nonprofits can join the conversation by using the hashtag in their Tweets and running keyword-targeted campaigns to amplify their messages.

4. Target people who are most likely to donate.

Nonprofits can ensure that their ads reach a receptive audience by targeting users according to interest, geography and gender. Thanks to our tailored audiences tool, advertisers can upload email lists and target that group of users on Twitter. They can also expand their audience to include lookalikes using @username targeting

To reach an interested audience, organizations can also place Twitter conversion tags on their websites and retarget those visitors on Twitter.

5. Boost site traffic and conversions.

Once people are aware of your mission and impact, don’t hesitate to ask for donations or volunteers directly. Two great ways to do this are to use clear calls-to-action and Website Cards, which enable advertisers to drive traffic directly to a specific page.

This Website Card from @FeedtheChildren is an example:

The giving season: a Twitter Ads guide for nonprofits

@WorldVisionUSA also uses Website Cards:

The giving season: a Twitter Ads guide for nonprofits

Don’t forget that most Twitter users access the platform on their smartphones. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile use.

6. Encourage users – including brand ambassadors – to advocate for your organization.

People enjoy supporting causes they believe in on Twitter, and may be more likely to donate when a personal connection publicly asks them to help. Consider creating incentives for people to Retweet your messages to their followers.

For example, Conservation International (@ConservationOrg) tells its followers that every time they use the hashtag #NatureIsSpeaking, Hewlett-Packard (@HP) will donate $1.

Support from celebrities with a significant number of Twitter followers can also be powerful. Nonprofits can promote Tweets from their “brand ambassadors” by whitelisting these accounts (note that we require permission to do this from ambassadors).

7. Thank users for their support.

Continue to seek donations through the end of the year, and remind people that their charitable donations are tax-deductible. This is also a good time to show users appreciation for their support. Last December, @ASPCA thanked supporters by hosting a holiday party on Twitter.

Many thanks to Twitter Ads experts Ashley Ramirez and Hana Yu, who specialize in nonprofit marketing, for their contributions to this post.

If you’d like to learn more about how nonprofits can partner with Twitter, check out our media site for nonprofits or follow Twitter for Nonprofits.