The Ultimate Facebook Ad Guide For Fundraising Events

Are you promoting fundraising events online? Have you tried using Facebook Ads to spread the word?

Targeted Facebook ads are an ideal way to reach people who are most likely to share and attend your event.

In this article I’ll show you how Facebook ads increase exposure, engagement and registrations for your event.

How Facebook Ads Drive People Through a Marketing Funnel

Marketing funnels show how people go from hearing about your event to registering for your event. Your funnel is essentially a framework that connects content marketing, email marketing and ads into a functional strategy.

Below is an example of a horizontal funnel (using Facebook) that follows Jane as she goes from awareness of the event, to registering for the event, to telling her friends about the event.


Each stage of your marketing funnel serves a different promotional purpose. You’ll notice how Facebook ads might support each stage of the funnel.

#1: Capture Awareness

The first phase of any campaign is awareness. Maybe someone finds out about your event because a friend was talking about it, or maybe that person subscribes to your email or reads your blog.

In the funnel example above, Jane signs a pledge to support, which is a mini-campaign designed to nurture interest for an upcoming event. Doing a mini-campaign like this isn’t always necessary, but it can be effective, particularly for paid events.

At this stage of the game, I suggest you use any of these Facebook ad options: Boosted Posts, Event Ads or lookalike audiences.

facebook ads promoting fundraising event

When you decide to boost a Facebook post, only boost your best stuff. That way you increase the likelihood that people who see the post will engage with it. To find the posts worth boosting, look at your Insights to find your top event-related posts based on engagement rate and how relevant it is to your current marketing goals.

PRO TIP: There may be cases when your best-performing updates aren’t directly related to your promotion. If that’s the case, simply edit the status update, include a call to action (CTA) and link to your campaign landing page. Just make sure your edits feel natural, not forced.

Lookalike Audiences

A lookalike audience is a custom audience that shares the same likes and interests as your customers, email subscribers, volunteers or even people who attended last year’s event.

Creating a Facebook lookalike audience is as simple as uploading an email list. Who should be on this list? Why would they be interested in hearing about your event? The easy answer to both is anyone who registered for a previous event.

Once you create a lookalike audience with Power Editor, you can use it to target your boosted post by following these steps:

  1. Find the post you want to promote and click Boost.
  2. Click the Use Advanced Options link in the pop-up window. You’ll be redirected to Facebook’s Advanced Advertising Tool.
  3. Scroll down under Audiences and type the name of your lookalike audience into the Custom Audience field.
  4. Select the lookalike audience from the list of suggestions.
  5. Select any other targeting options you want to include. You may not need to bother with this if your lookalike audience is based on a very specific email list (for example, previous event registrants).

#2: Nurture Interest

In our example with Jane, we’re using triggered email marketing campaigns. Triggered campaigns or autoresponders are email messages that are automatically sent in response to something the subscriber does.

When Jane signs the pledge, she is added to a specific email list. As soon as she’s added to that list (the trigger), a series of two to three email messages are sent to her, encouraging her to register for the event.

There are a few Facebook ad tactics you can use to support these email messages, but one stands out front and center:

Email Custom Audiences

The constant challenge of email marketing is getting people to open your emails and click through your campaign links. We can send Jane triggered emails intended to nurture her interest in the event, but we can’t make her open or click. This is where Facebook email custom audiences come into play.

An email custom audience allows you to reach people on a specific email list with Facebook ads. In our example let’s say that Jane opens one of the triggered emails, but fails to click on links to learn more about the event—maybe she gets distracted or gets pulled away to a work meeting.

After her long and stressful meeting, Jane opens Facebook during a coffee break. She sees boosted posts (or event ads) reflecting the same CTAs she read in the triggered email. She may click through the post and register for the event, or take the post as a reminder to register later that night when she has more time for email.

This tactic essentially creates a one-two punch—combining email marketing and Facebook marketing. In our example we’re using an email custom audience with the list of people like Jane who’ve signed the pledge.

You can create a Facebook email custom audience by following these steps:

  1. Export the email list or segment from your current donor database, EMS or CRM and save it to your hard drive. You only need a single column (CSV or TXT) of emails. No other data is required (you can even remove the header row).
  2. Select the Facebook page post you want specific email subscribers to see and click Boost.
  3. In the pop-up, click Advanced Options. You will be redirected to Facebook’s Advanced Advertising Tool.
  4. Scroll down to the Audience section and click Create Custom Audiences.
  5. In the pop-up, click Data File Custom Audience.
  6. Give your list a name and a short description, select I Agree to the Facebook Custom Audiences Terms and click Create Audience.

email custom audience

A quick note: When your list is uploaded, you can target Facebook users associated with that list. When you select the list in the Custom Audience field, you may notice that the audience number is smaller than the list you uploaded. That’s because Facebook only uses emails that are associated with a Facebook profile.

#3: Convert Donors

If you’ve conducted any type of campaign that includes a landing page asking people to take a specific action, you know all too well that most people won’t do what you want them to do – they may lose interest, get confused, get distracted or even get back to work. Whatever the reason, they fail to convert.

But they did visit your landing page!

You can use that to your advantage by using Facebook website retargeting. The diagram below explains how retargeting works.

Facebook Ad Guide For Fundraising Events

Facebook website retargeting allows you to target ads at people who have visited a specific page on your website. In our example it’s the event registration page.

To retarget registration page visitors, follow the instructions above for creating a custom audience, but this time choose Custom Audience from Website.

Pay careful attention to the number of days you keep people in this custom audience. The power of website retargeting is the recency of their visit. If your

website retargeting ad

#4: Increase Word of Mouth Shares

To encourage attendees to tell their friends about the event, you can reuse some of the tactics mentioned above.

For example, you can create a new email custom audience based on the list you create from the event registration page, and then ask those people to share your event information.

I also encourage you to create another website custom audience—this time from people who have reached the thank-you page of your website after registering for your event.

You can also create an unpublished (or dark) post encouraging registrants to invite their friends to the event and retarget the post to your new custom audience (your registrants).

You definitely want to use event ads at this point, simply because of their strong social proof. Facebook users who are served event ads see which of their friends have RSVP’d to your event.

What do you think?

When you target your Facebook ads wisely, you save money and end up with better engagement, higher conversion rates, and a high-quality fan base interested in your fundraising event.

But what do you think?

Do you use Facebook advertising options to promote your events? Which option has worked best for you?

Get more from your next Facebook Ads campaign with my FREE planning workbook. Click here to get it!

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John Haydon