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3 Steps to Successfully Market Planned Gifts on Facebook

Nonprofits have many different communication tools available to engage with planned giving donors. Baby boomers and seniors are more active on the internet - specifically social media - than ever before.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of U.S. adults age 50-64 use Facebook. That number drops to about 50% for users over 65. Of all U.S. adults, three-quarters report logging into Facebook daily. The opportunity is clear. The core planned giving demographic is on Facebook and successfully marketing to them on this platform is not only possible, but more accessible than you might expect.

I have worked with hundreds of charities who get really excited about the idea of using Facebook to market planned gifts, but soon let it fall by the wayside in pursuit of other tasks. Perhaps they just do not have enough time and staff support. I can’t blame them! Facebook marketing is the cherry on top of a multichannel program.

Facebook marketing success belongs to those who have three things: (1) clear, measurable goals (2) an actionable and realistic plan and (3) dedicated follow through. This article will break down these key steps and explore various ideas for effective posts and ad content on Facebook.

1. Setting Goals

As always, your focus as a gift planner should be about nurturing relationships with planned giving donors and prospects. Facebook is another way to do that, but first you need to set goals in order to be successful.

You may want to consider goals such as boosting web traffic to discover how many people come to your planned giving website as a result of social media activity. You could be looking to simply increase your Facebook following and general engagement. You may want to increase legacy society membership, boost estate planning seminar attendance, increase subscriptions to your enewsletter or acquire new email addresses.

When considering your goals, look at what you can actively measure. Here are a few examples of measurable, attainable goals. The numbers will vary depending on the size and capacity of your organization, but this should provide a good starting point for both long- and short-term goal setting. Get specific.

How to Measure Your Goals  

It is simple – you use landing pages and analytics. Facebook Insights allow you to track general engagement on your organic and boosted posts to see what your supporters respond to best. The Ad Center on Facebook is also quite robust. Creating a landing page on your planned giving website will enable you to clearly track the success of an ad or post. It is also very easy to link to web contact forms that capture information.  After the campaign is complete, export the data and distribute to your team. Take note of what worked and what did not and adjust your goals accordingly. These may get much more precise over time.

2. Creating a Plan

You have set your goals and now it is time to plan how you will reach them.

First, ask the question - is there any money in the budget for Facebook ads? If so, how much? A few hundred dollars is plenty to reach a large audience on Facebook. If it is in the budget, start playing around with the Facebook Ad Center to see what that budget will cover. Currently, Facebook ads are a relatively low-cost option.

Whether the posts are paid or not, you need to have a plan for what to post and when. If you have the support staff and budget available, I recommend running Facebook ads with clear, measurable call-to-actions during campaigns. If your organization cannot afford this, focus on engaging with your current following to continue to build trust and awareness. This is done through consistent, organic posts. If you have a good plan in place and target the right audience, you may see a spike in web traffic and planned giving lead generation.

What to Post

Some popular advertisement and call-to-action options include offers for:

You do not need to reinvent the wheel by creating posts from scratch every single time.

Are you getting ready to send out a gift annuity mailing? Great. Turn it into an image with a concise and engaging caption and link to a landing page to request a free illustration. That is one post you can plan for a week or two after your postcard drops. Remember that donor profile you received last year from Mr. Jones? Share his picture (with permission, of course) and a donor story teaser prompting the reader to learn more on your planned giving website. Did you send a donor newsletter this month? Share one of the included articles on Facebook. Just like that, you already have three planned posts. You can then repeat this type of pattern with any type of campaign.

Note: It is also worth mentioning that I often see the highest engagement on Facebook for donor stories and profiles of those that have benefitted from a gift. These are tangible examples that inspire others to give.

When to Post

Let’s look at an example of a mid-size nonprofit with a relatively new planned giving program and a tight budget.  This organization plans to focus on Bequests in the spring and IRA Charitable Rollovers in the fall of each year. For each of these campaigns, they plan to send out a postcard to a modest list and a follow-up eblast to their loyal donors. The gift planner at this organization wears multiple hats and needs to be realistic with how to spend their time. It would be very reasonable to plan to post on Facebook once a month for three months in the spring and fall. If that works well, the nonprofit could increase their posts to every month of the year surrounding the target gift models. They always have the option to increase, but at least now there is a consistent plan in place, so donors are receiving multiple contacts in any given campaign.

Overall timing and frequency will depend on your organization and what other communications are happening at any given time.

3. Implementation and Follow Through

The third step is the most important. Setting goals and creating plans will not mean anything if you are not ready to follow through – and more importantly – follow up with the donors in your online community. Before you begin utilizing Facebook, be sure that you and your staff are trained and available for follow up once leads start to roll in. Make sure you can keep track of your analytics and update your donor database accordingly with any new information received. Then, add new planned giving prospects to your pipeline so you can continue to steward them effectively.

Most organizations will need to coordinate their Facebook marketing into a larger communications calendar that is packed with content relating to admissions, volunteerism and general fund development. Having a thorough plan with measurable goals in place will be your bargaining chip when making the case to your director or marketing department. The more content you write in advance, the more leverage you may have.

Once your plan is approved, you can start scheduling Facebook posts and ad campaigns. Get this done early. Facebook allows you to schedule posts in advance and there are several programs that enable you to post across multiple channels at set times. Be sure to review your scheduled posts on a consistent basis to ensure the content is still relevant and timely.

The Importance of Multichannel Marketing

Again, it is crucial to recognize that Facebook is only one piece of the puzzle. It should supplement your existing marketing and not function as a standalone effort. Multichannel marketing is a proven method of increasing response rates and typically involves the use of your planned giving website, eblasts, enewsletters, print, video, social media and mobile communication to connect you with your donors.

You need to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time and you need to do it often. It may take some trial and error at first, but if you commit to these three steps – you can successfully market planned gifts on Facebook.

Kate Bailey

By Kate Bailey
Legacy Campaign Specialist, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

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