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How to maximise Facebook donate button posts

Facebook users can reach your donation pages through Facebook ads. But did you know that your organisation can receive donations without users having to leave Facebook? 

Your organic posts can now include a Facebook donate button. And what’s more, these organic posts can be boosted. This means these posts can be leveraged like ads.

So how does the Facebook donate button work and what results can you expect?

Laetitia Martin, a Digital Fundraising specialist, talks us through what she learnt when working with BirdLife International.

What We Will Cover

  • What is a Facebook Donate Button Post?
  • Why Use Donate Button Posts?
  • How to Set up Donate Button Posts
  • How to Add a Donate Button to a Video Post
  • How We Tested Donate Button Posts
  • The Results
  • Takeaways and Conclusion

Watch the Video Here

About BirdLife International

BirdLife International is a global organisation that works to conserve habitats for birds. They have nine global programmes that respond to specific conservation issues. These include:

  • Climate change
  • Deforestation
  • Identifying and protecting important sites of biodiversity 
  • Managing invasive species 
  • The empowerment and engagement of local communities
  • Protecting marine bird species 
  • Preventing extinctions 
  • Protecting flyways 
  • Developing the capacity of grassroots organisations

What is a Facebook Donate Button Post?

First, what exactly is a donate button post? So you may be able to recognise on Facebook the donate button post. It’s basically at the top of the post where it says the organisation or an individual is asking for donations. That donate button post is an organic post. It’s a post that appears on your Facebook feed. 

When a user clicks on this button, it takes them to a Facebook donation form. The donation is processed and made on Facebook. The user never leaves Facebook. Needless to say, if you wanted to create a donate button post your organisation has to be set up with Facebook donate. Otherwise, you can't add a donate button post. 

So what is the difference with a donate button post and a donation ad? 

You can recognise a donation ad as it doesn’t include the section where an organisation is asking for donations. We call these dark post donations ads. These are posts that do not appear on your Facebook feed. This is unlike a donate button post, which will be on your Facebook page.

The donate call to action button on a dark post donation ad can take you to an external website. A lot of the time, this will be your donation page. Therefore, the user will be making the donation on your site and not on Facebook.

Why Use Facebook Donate Button Posts?

So why use donate button posts? The user will never leave the Facebook platform for the donation page. This basically means that conversion rates can be much, much higher than on dark post ads. Some organisations even report up to 13 times higher on conversion rates. If donate button posts can drive conversions like donation volume, they have the potential to do the same for return on investment.

There are some disadvantages to creating donate button posts at the moment. When somebody donates on Facebook, they can decide to leave you their contact details. But the rates of users doing this is generally quite low. Data capture opt in rates are generally under 10%. This is a lot lower than what you would normally get, especially if you compared the communication opt-in rates to your own donations page. Also, regular giving through this channel isn't possible yet. It’s currently being tested in the USA, but it hasn't made it to the UK yet.

How to Set up Facebook Donate Button Posts

So a little bit about how to set up a Donate button post. We simply scheduled the posts through the Creator Studio on your Facebook page by doing the following: 

  1. Click on ‘Create Posts’. 
  2. In the section underneath, there’s a ‘Support Charity’ option. Click on this. You’ll then see a drop down list with lots of different organisations
  3. Select your organisation and it will come up on your posts. 

You can add an image or a video to your post. If you're uploading a video, you'll be taken to a different page. However, one thing to be aware of. When you click on ‘Multimedia’, you can choose to set up slideshows and carousel posts. However, sometimes Facebook glitches mean that if you include a slideshow or carousel, the donate button posts won't appear in the first instance. 

So to get round this, we simply schedule a post once first and nce it’s live, you can add the donate button on the post manually. It’s not particularly ideal, but it means you can still add a donate button post to your slideshow or to your carousel. Just be aware that is one of those limitation quirks of using Facebook. 

How to Add a Facebook Donate Button to a Video Post

This is how to add a donate button to a video post. So once you’ve clicked on sharing a video, you’ll be taken to this new window. You’ll be asked to enter information. This is the usual stuff that you would normally do when posting a video. This includes publishing options etc.

If you go down to the raise money section, you can search for your organisation. Once selected, the post will be set up to collect for your organisation. A donate button will be added to your video post.

At Birdlife International, we generally schedule the pace of posts to go out a little bit later. But obviously, you can decide to just post whenever you want. 

How We Tested Donate Button Posts

So what were the reasons behind wanting to make donate button posts? First of all, we saw some organisations already doing this really well, particularly last year during COVID times. We wanted to find out if donate button posts could compete with our dark post ads in volume and return on ad spend. We were already getting good results from these. But we were hoping that, maybe with some short boost appeals, we could get some really decent volume and return on ad spend. 

So how did we go about testing this? We boosted organic posts with the Facebook donate button, via the ad manager. This is a bit different to boosting the posts via your page. I'm sure you often see a button underneath your posts on your page that says ‘Boost Posts’. We didn’t choose to boost our posts here. We did via ad manager, because it gives you more opportunity and ways to optimise and to manage your budget. It also lets you choose your audiences, add certain exclusions, and so on.

Boosting via the ad manager is very easy. You set up your campaign as you normally would. On the ad level, the only difference is that the ‘Create an Ad’ section is a drop down menu that gives you the opportunity to use an existing post. You then come up to a window where you can look for all the published and scheduled posts. You can select the post here. 

You then have the opportunity to add a call to action button. We chose not to add a call to action button, as there was one already in the original post. In the preview, you'll see that the donate button has already been added.

This is what we tested at BirdLife. We did our first test at the end of last year. We started very small, so £200 on each video post (these were actually slideshows). We focused on content that we knew already performed quite well. We also focused on warm audiences. We only targeted those with Facebook engagement in the last 90 days, as well as all Facebook followers from BirdLife’s top 10 performing markets.

And then we optimised for reach. We wanted as many people as possible to see the video and actually see the posts. But, in the end, the boosts didn't spend the full budget. We actually only spent under £100. This was actually their lifetime budget. We had seven donations with a total revenue of £141, and a return on ad spend of 1.49. Our conclusion here was that the boost didn't end up spending the full budget, and that engagement is low on slide shows. That budget didn't really pick up. Nevertheless, we had a 1.49 return on ad spend. This was quite competitive against some of the dark posts that we were doing. The volumes were really low, but we recognised that there was some potential. 

We wanted to try and increase engagement and volume. Our recommendation was to test more engaging creative. We knew that video tends to be a much better format for engagement, as well as hard hitting imagery. We also wanted to maintain the return on ad spend and increase volume. And obviously, if we could increase return on ad spend, that would have been even better. 

So for the second test, we used a video and increased the budget to £1,000. We had a double goal for this video. Our first goal was to get some donations on this post. Our second goal was to take advantage of promoting this video, and see if we could build out our audience. We specifically wanted to build an audience that we could then retarget with dark post ads – a new, two step journey. With the £1,000 pounds, we targeted different audiences. We still targeted a warm audience, similar to the first post. But we also targeted a cold audience. We excluded the warm audience in the top three performing markets. The aim here was for as many people to view the video. We were optimising for video views. 

The Results

The results from the boost and the donate button posts were actually quite disappointing. And the return on ad spend and volume were both low. While the volume was definitely as equally low as the previous posts, and the return on ad spend was really low. However, the results from retargeting the audience were much better. 

We targeted that audience for about four weeks, and we got some interesting results. 

We got 56 donations with nine regular gifts, and the return on ad spend was 1. Not exactly the results that we were really hoping for. But it was good to test and see again that having a two step journey has real potential. We were technically asking for money twice. But, particularly with cold audiences, people might not want to donate to you the first time. They might need to see some different content to make the decision to finally donate. Hence the retargeting.

It was an interesting test. Although in some ways it was a bit disappointing, it was very enlightening. Engagement was much much higher on this boost because it was a video - it had 28 times more reach. But, we also think that the video was distracting users from donating again. This resulted in the volume and return on ad spend being very low. We had the double goal of recruiting leads, so to widen our retargeting audiences, we kept the boosts running. This was despite their low return on ad spend. 

Because of this double goal, we really needed to focus on getting the content right. The first posts were very bird specific, and the second video talked about birds in general.

We just realised that BirdLife audiences are more interested in bird-specific content. The recommendation for us at this point then was to test bird-specific, potentially hard-hitting imagery that we knew worked quite well on our dark posts, and to continue to prioritise warm audiences for boosts. This is because we would have a better chance of having a stronger return on ad spend. 

Takeaways and Conclusion

Our first learning was getting the creative right is key. 

The second learning is that, for us at least, the boosted donate button posts are not likely to replace the dark post ads. However, they can complement main ad campaigns. This approach could be suitable if you have the same double goal as us – widening your retargeting audiences and testing two step journeys. It’s important for organisations to test different approaches. For instance, getting the right creative is going to be different from one organisation to another. 

Getting the timing right for these posts is also really important. I would recommend waiting for your organic posts to get some traction before boosting. At BirdLife, we scheduled posts and boosts so that their ads started spending pretty much as soon as the posts had gone live. We didn't wait for the organic posts to get a little bit of traction, such as few likes or comments. This is one of the things that we're going to test in the next phase. 

I recommend keeping an eye on opportunities. If you have organic posts that are doing particularly well on your organic feed, there is an opportunity to then add the donate button manually and then boost it. Ask for money when it's appropriate, especially on this type of post. We've seen this work really well last year. 

Some organisations have made some top organic posts, and boosted them with a donate button during appropriate awareness weeks or months, or if there’s something going on in the news. You could use this opportunity to test your best performing ad content as an organic post. 

If there’s some content that’s particularly working in your ad programme why not post it on your organic and see what happens?

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