Facebook for the Charity and Voluntary Sector

Facebook for the Charity and Voluntary Sector

I was recently invited by Citizens Advice Rutland to present a talk aimed at charities, voluntary groups and not for profit organisations on how they can utilise the power of Facebook.

If you’d like to catch up on the talk you can watch it below where I cover the following topics –

  • Why Use Social Media?
  • Finding Your Audience.
  • Use your data.
  • How often should you post?
  • What Should you post?
  • What is a hashtag?
  • The difference between pages, groups and events.
  • The Facebook Donate Button and Fundraisers.
  • Facebook Advertising.
Facebook for the Charity and Voluntary Sector Webinar.


Hi there and welcome to my presentation regarding social media and charity work. My name is Amanda, Amanda White, and I run a freelance digital marketing consultancy called Amanda White digital.

I am originally from Essex, although I don’t sound or look like a traditional Essex girl. I’ve lived in Cornwall for 15 years now. I started my digital marketing career in SEO, which is Search Engine Optimization. About 10 years ago. I was lucky enough to work on some really large sites like Argos and The Range. I moved into an in-house digital marketing position at a local furniture retailer, where my experience has covered PPC – Pay-Per-Click Advertising and email marketing using Mailchimp and some Paid Social Media.

I am going to be covering quite a bit today in my talk, I am going to be covering –

  • Why Use Social Media?
  • Finding Your Audience.
  • Use your data.
  • How often should you post?
  • What Should you post?
  • What is a hashtag?
  • The difference between pages, groups and events.
  • The Facebook Donate Button and Fundraisers.
  • Facebook Advertising.

Why use Social Media

Social media in the voluntary sector, why use Facebook? Well, Facebook is huge and it’s free to use. Facebook daily active users is huge. As of December 2020 it was recorded that 1.84 billion users per day log into Facebook. There’s more than 1.4 billion people using Facebook groups every month. And people with smartphones tend to check their Facebook page on average, 14 times per day, Google is the only business with more daily users than Facebook.

Why use Social Media in the Voluntary and Charity Sector

When you are running a charity or not nonprofit organisation, you need to know your why. Why do you think using Facebook is a good idea?

  • Are you trying to raise awareness of your charity?
  • Are you trying to promote an event that has been run by your charity?
  • Are you trying to raise much needed funds, which we know right now is really important right now.
  • Are you trying to build a community in your local area?

Your audience is really crucial. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your audience. How many people start with a Facebook page and start hammering away, just chucking out posts, talking to everyone and know one at the same time. Yet they don’t actually know who they’re talking to. knowing who your target audience is really important.

  • What age are they?
  • What sex are they?
  • Are you predominantly sharing to a widely, just female audience, but talking in a very macho, manly manner.
  • When are you audience online?
  • Are you posting every morning? Yet actually your audience are online looking at Facebook of an evening.

knowing who you’re talking to helps with the content that you’re creating. It helps you create posts that talk to your audience and helps to steer your calls to action to be successful. But how can you find this information?

Finding Your Audience

Facebook Is actually really quite helpful. There’s something in Facebook called Audience Insights.

Facebook Audience Insights

You can use Facebook Insights to get information on followers, on your likes and your posts reach via the actions on a page. If you head down to the left-hand side of your Facebook page, you can see something called Insights. Once you open that, you can scroll right down to the bottom and look at People. This data reflects the people that follow and visit your page. You can see your fans, your followers, and the amount of people reached by your posts. People reached is not necessarily who follows your page, It’s people that have seen your page.

You can see that my page has predominantly a female audience, they’re mostly within the age range of 35 to 44, which is around my age. And they are mainly in the UK and predominantly in Newquay, which is my nearest town. So that’s really good to see that I’m attracting local businesses and a local audience.

Amanda White Digital Audience Insights

One of the most crucial things to think about is posting when your audience is online. In Facebook, if you go to the post section on your pages and sites, you can see this really great timeline of when your audience is online and when they’re not, you can work out when’s the best time to post.

However, the times here are not correct. Facebook’s post data is shown in a Pacific time zone. Make sure that you convert these times, In the UK, you just add eight hours. It looks like my page is busiest at noon. Whereas that’s actually eight o’clock at night.

When are my Facebook followers online

If I looked at this graph and started posting all of my content around lunchtime, I’d actually be missing a fair chunk of traffic potential because they’re actually using Facebook in the evening not in the afternoon.

Use Your Data

Use the data that’s available. Know when your followers are online. Time when you are posting your content for when they are online. This gives you the best chance of your ideal audience seeing your content. it’s also worth bearing in mind, that organic posts, which is how many people you can reach for free on Facebook, is thought to only be around 5%.

How Often Should You Post on Facebook?

How often should you post on Facebook? Facebook is about building relationships. It’s about building brand awareness and a voice. Whether you post once a week or once a month, you’ve got to be consistent. It’s better to post once a month, rather than posting four times in one week, and then nothing for three weeks. If your Facebook page is suddenly really busy and posting every day and then suddenly you disappear for a couple of months. Do people think the brand has folded? Do people think the charity is not doing any work anymore? Trying to be consistent when posting, whether it is once a day, once a week or once a month, that consistency helps build your brand. Plan ahead and use a content calendar.

Facebook Is really great because again, they help you to do this. If you go to your Facebook page and then go to Facebook.com/YOURPAGE/PublishingTools you can find a section where you can create draft posts. You can schedule posts and you can see data on your published posts.

Facebook Publishing Tools

Using the Publisher Tools You can create a new post, you can add links, you can add calls to action and you can schedule posts into the future. You can think and plan ahead. if you’ve got an event coming up or you’ve got seasonality coming into play, say Christmas. If you’re doing a sponsored Santa fun run? You can plan all your posts leading up to this in advance. Meaning you can actually have time off over Christmas and simply concentrate on replying to customers and building your audience and event rather than worrying about planning, social media posts.

What Should You Post On Facebook?

What do you actually post on Facebook? The main purpose of Facebook is to communicate with the public and your supporters and build your audience. If you’re a charity, you might want to be sharing news, sharing announcements, sharing updates, sharing good statistics on how much money you may have brought in, or even how much money you’re losing, due to things like the global pandemic, share stories.

It’s worth noting, that Facebook posts with images receive 2.3 times more engagement with those without, and video is thought to be even more popular than this. But I know with charities that affording professional photography and professional videos, especially for small charities, isn’t always possible.

You can use things like Canva to help. You can use a free version which is pretty good however, there’s also a paid subscription, but it’s relatively cheap and it can help you to create some really quite professional looking videos for not a lot of money.

When your sharing on Social Media, show your personality. People buy from people, people don’t just buy a product. They buy into a brand and into a personality. If you can go live, if you’re feeling brave, show the people behind your charity. People have empathy and feel warmth towards a person rather than just a product. Going live pops notifications into your followers feeds to tell them that you are live and can really help to get you noticed and expand your reach.

You may not be a fan, but use emojis. This example with the RNLI, they’ve got a little wave symbol which is subtle and used to break up large blocks of text.

What to post on facebook

When your sharing your posts, keep in the back of your mind your audience and growing that audience. Ask your personal network of friends to share your page.

If you see someone has liked a post, you can click on the little option where it says where you’ve got the likes or loves. If someone likes a post, you can then invite them to like your page. If you click on the bottom left, it’ll then bring up all the people that have liked your page. Then you can click on Invite All or invite individuals, and that can then send invitations to invite them to like your page.

How to invite your post ‘likes’ to become page followers.

To further build your audience think about adding links to your Facebook page on your website and within your email signature so that people are constantly seeing your name, your brand, your Facebook page, and then hopefully visit and like your page.

Remember to utilise everything within Facebook. Utilise your cover photo. The Facebook cover is the first thing that people will see on your page. Use good quality images. You could update it regularly, if you had monthly events, you could have a different cover image per event. With events like race for life at the moment they’re currently pushing the the 2021 remote races rather than one specific event but if they had different events each month they could change the cover photo each month. Remember, if you can, use a call to action. Race for Life are calling you to do the 2021 race for Life and to ‘Sign-Up’

Use you Facebook Page Cover to your advantage

What is a Hashtag?

You might have noticed in some of those examples, there’s hashtags. What is a hashtags?
Hashtags are a word or a phrase proceeded by a hashtag symbol. They are used on social media, websites and applications. They identify digital content on a specific topic, and they are a form of user generated, tagging, they enable cross-referencing of content and sharing on a subject or theme.

If you were to tag #santafunrun #christmas2021 #runningevent etc, you could be jumping on the, relevance and the audience that are looking for these Christmas events or running events. People that might want to know about running events, might look up hashtag #runningevent or #funrun by using popular hashtags theses users could then find your event and decide to join in. They weren’t specifically looking for your event but the topical hashtag has lead them to your event. Using hashtags can increase your social medias reach.

What is a Facebook Hashtag?

There’s a really great website called best-hashtags.com and this site can help you expand on your hashtags that you might want to use.

However, you should always use hashtags with caution. You can see that the hashtag #charityevent has 881,000 posts using that hashtag. If you post using this hashtag you will be trying to gain visibility on a really busy stream. You might get lost into a sea of other posts using that same hashtag and not gain the visibility you desired. Therefore, it’s not always advisable to use the most popular hashtags because they are also the most competitive. You want to use a mixture of some of the really popular ones, but then also use some of the more hyper-relevant, the more local to your niche, to your area, to your business to create a successful hashtag strategy.

What’s the difference between Facebook Pages, Groups and Events?

Facebook pages and Facebook groups are two rather different types of Facebook element. Let me explain further, A Facebook page is your public profile. It’s very much brand led and you use it to promote your brand. You use it to promote your services, activities that you’re hosting, any news and updates. People can comment on your posts and share them, but that’s about as social as it gets. A group however, is a community-based page. It gathers like-minded people together, and it’s much more social between the community. Users can share their own posts and they can discuss opinions, topics and ask questions to the group, its very user centric. If you have a group, your users could post on there and start engaging with the rest of that group. Other people can then respond and answer these posts for you and the social element of that community can snowball.

A Facebook group is a separate community-based group where the followers can talk to other followers. It’s not the same as your public page. A really great example is WWFs page. There is the main WWF page full of all of their followers. Then they have a team earth group, which is a private closed group. In here, followers need to ask to join the group. As a group owner, you still have the ability to monitor and moderate the group as well as set up criteria to join the group. You might ask some questions before allowing access to a group. Why do you want to join this group? Are you based locally? You might also have some basic rules for your group. You might ask people to be kind, not use offensive language etc. You moderate the group and you moderate what’s going on, because it is still your brand, its still your voice, but it’s for your community of users to use.

Facebook Events, the Donate Button and Facebook Fundraisers.

Another really great area for charities to utilise is Facebook events.
You can use the power of social to gain event signups. If I was to sign up to this charity bungee jump or the lobster Lollop, which is one of my favourite running events in Cornwall. When I click to say that ‘I’m going’ to this event, the Facebook algorithms may decide to show my interest in the event on my Facebooks timeline, so that my friends see that I am attending and thus they gain visibility to that event. My friends will see a little update saying ‘Amanda White is interested in going to the lobster Lollop.’ They might then sign up to the same event if they’re interested too. The more people that sign up, the more visibility of the event, the bigger the event grows. And the more people you could get signing up to your charity event, it really does easily gain momentum. Especially, if the event that you’re doing is something really popular, like at the moment, running and keeping fit during lockdown.

Facebook Donate Button

How do I get the Facebook Donate Button?

The Facebook Donate Button is one of my favourite elements to utilise for the charity sector. It can sometimes be quite tricky to get set up. When you’re setting up your page, you must select to be a nonprofit organisation as the category. And only this category. This will enable you to apply and get access to the donate button. It can take a few weeks to get approved. Once approved it means you can collect donations online via things like PayPal. If you go to facebook.com/donate/signup there is the option to add the donate button to your page. You are required to prove you are a charity, with proof of address, utility bills and your passport.

There are a few hoops to jump through to get it set up but it’s really worth doing to help generate funds for your charity. Once you have Facebook Donate set up, you can actually ask people to fundraise on your behalf through this donate button.

How can I access Facebook Fundraise for my Charity?

Your supporters can fundraise for your charity directly in Facebook. When people donate, they can share that they have donated. This is great because it works with the element of social sharing and encourages more people to donate, making donations social is much more successful.

You can see an example for Cornwall air ambulance. Here there is a list of people that are trying to raise money for their birthday instead of birthday presents or for events. As the charity, you can see these fundraisers in the same place. You can go to your fundraisers page and see lists of people and see how well they’re doing. This enables you to get involved and can then share those on your page. “Congratulations to Anita on your birthday. You’ve reached halfway” You can engage, you can show gratitude and everyone can see how well you’re doing as a charity or for the indivdual.

Facebook Fundraisers for Charity

Facebook Paid Advertising

Earlier on, I mentioned that with organic reach, the free traffic on Facebook. You potentially only reach about 5% of your followers, which is genuinely really quite low. If you’re trying to reach more people, Facebook paid advertising can really help you out.

Facebook advertising can really help you to reach more people and you can target your ads in so many ways. You can use photos, slideshows and videos in your ads. You can target lead generating forms to get people to sign up to mailing lists. You can target products, If you run a shop, you can utilise the awesome power of Re-Marketing.

You may have seen these clever little ads when you’ve been shopping online. Maybe you’ve looked at a pair of shoes on a website, and then the following day, those shoes are shown to you on Facebook via an ad. This is retargeting and re-marketing. If you have a charity shop that you are running, you can utilise re-marketing through paid ads. Then hyper target your ads so you target target specific age, sex, or geographic location. If you’re only doing an event that’s in Cornwall and you don’t want to advertise it to the whole of the UK, you can target just a specific small demographic and location saving you a tonne of money only showing your ads to those that matter.

You can even target interest. So I’ve discussed a lot, as you can tell, I’m a runner. I like the running events. So I’m an easy target and regularly sign up to charity running events that I’ve seen on Facebook. Using the power of targeting, you can find people that like running, that are in Cornwall that are female, that are under 30. You could find all these things and target your ad just to those people. This enables you to only spend money on the people that may convert on your ad.

What is the Facebook Pixel?

You can connect Facebook and your website to utilise further targeting. You can add something called a tracking pixel to your website. Adding this little line of code, enables you to start combining the data on your website and connecting it to people on Facebook and tie them together. You can then target people that have visited your store, visited your webpage, that spend more than five minutes on your site, or people that watch 50% of a video etc, the possibilities are exhaustive. You can target people who visit your website whether they like you on Facebook or not.

If you are thinking about running advertising for your charity on Facebook and you’ve never done advertising before, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel in terms of creativity. You can actually look at what other charities and businesses are doing in regards to their advertising. These big multinational charities have been spending thousands of pounds, and years on testing and trialing to find what works for them. All you need to do, is find the charity that’s similar to yours. Then scroll down the left-hand side of their Facebook page and go to Page Transparency, click on, See All, scroll down and go to Ad Library.

How to find and use Facebook Transparency

You can then get access to all of their data and details on the ads that they have previously run on Facebook. You can see for the RNIB, they’ve got some ads with video and some great calls to action. There’s some with different text, different images, different videos. You can see that they’re all running at the same time, but they’re clearly testing. You can see what they’re testing!

Seeing what others are doing might give you ideas on what to try next. Maybe you should do a video? Or you’ll see, actually there specifying, “£3 could help change a life.” Maybe you should try and target just £3 on our ads, rather than asking for £20? Maybe that’s where we’re going wrong? You can see what other charities in your niche, in your sector are doing and take a lead from that.

Facebook Advertising, Finding your competitors ads to generate ideas

That’s a real fast whistle stop tour of Facebook for charities and nonprofit organisations. Let me just do a quick Roundup. I know, I speak very quickly and I cover an awful lot, but,

keep your goals in mind and don’t use Facebook without a strategy.

Building likes for the sake of building likes is not going to get you anywhere. You could have 10,000 likes, but if none of them are engaging, none of them are taking part in your events. None of them are donating. There really is not much point in having all those likes.

Experiment with your posts, try different types of content and share at different times of the day. Try photos, try videos, try funny memes, try sharing new stories that are topical to your to your niche.

Try to engage in that content. See when people ‘like’ the most, see when people comment the most. Try things like polls, questionnaires and quizzes. They’re really good for getting engagement to see what works forYour brand.

Try posting at different times of the day and see what works for your business. If the data says that everyone’s online in the evening. They may well be, but are they online in the evening but not engaging because they are scrolling whilst watching TV. Try posting in the morning and see what happens to your engagement. Use the statistics available to guide you and then test for yourself. Posting at the right time gives you a much better chance of reaching that elusive 5% than posting in the middle of the night when no one’s online.

Lastly, my main bit of advice is be social. Social Media is meant to be social. Don’t just Chuck on a post and forget about it, ignore it and walk away. You needs to engage with your audience. If someone comments, reply, if someone asks another question, be helpful and answer their question. The more you engage with them, the more they will want to engage with you. The more you engage as an entity, the more Facebook will show your content to more people. The growth starts to spiral.

Thank you very much for listening to my talk. If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop me a line to get in contact. My website and my Instagram handle are at the bottom there. I like to talk. You’ve probably gathered that from my rambling. Drop me a line. I’d love to chat. Thank you for listening. Good luck with your charity Facebook Page.

Published by amandawhitedigital

Amanda White is an SEO specialist with over ten years of experience working with some of the largest eCommerce websites in the UK with both an agency and in house background.

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