Wouldn’t It Be Cool if Your Donors Saw These Digital Ads?

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research

November 5, 2020

If you’ve arrived at this blog, it’s because we enticed you with either my highly creative title, or we sent you digital ads across many platforms and you decided to click because you were curious. Or maybe a RNL consultant sent the link to you. Or maybe you googled digital advertising for fundraising and ended up here.

That’s pretty similar to how donors get to your content, giving pages, and campaigns. They see a story in a newsletter. They are sent a link by a friend, volunteer, or gift officer. Or, if you’re using the latest technology, you utilize the data you have to connect to them and serve digital ads to them where they spend their time: on their mobile devices, on web sites they frequent, on social media.

Here are some examples of how RNL partners have used this powerful technology.

Targeted advertising is one part of your fundraising digital boost

Digital Advertising for Fundraising: UTEP ad
Digital ads can appear anywhere your donors go online, like this ad for UTEP on a site for recipes.

As we’ve shared, it’s not about putting out ads and hoping gifts roll in. Digital advertising is part of a comprehensive digital boost approach that helps increase the effectiveness of all your appeals—email, direct mail, calling, and texting.

Here are some banner ad examples from the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) that appear for supporters across their web activity, at the same time they are receiving appeals and increasing the chance of donating.

Digital advertising for fundraising: UTEP banner ads

Use digital advertising to encourage donors to support immediate needs

University of Missouri student relief vertical banner ad

We have immediate and pressing needs, and our donors are ready to step up to support them. But other causes also vie for their attention and philanthropic interest.

By engaging them with digital advertising, you keep you amplify your calls to action no matter where they are online, maximizing both the chance they’ll donate and the natural flow from their web and social media activity to giving.

Here are examples from Mizzou that maintain a consistent message across all platforms, from web ads, banner ads, Facebook, and Instagram.

University of Missouri student relief ad
Digital Advertising for Fundraising: an example of a Mizzou

Make the case for giving and support your other appeals

Baylor banner ads

Here are ads Baylor University sent at the end of last year, enhancing the effectiveness of their appeals.

Digital advertising for fundraising: A holiday ad from Baylor University.
Baylor digital ad

Celebrate milestones, promote events, and drive you supporters to take action

Wittenburg Vertical ad

We can’t be next to our donors right now, but we can still celebrate, gather virtually, and drive activity to key campaigns and milestones. Your strategy for these now virtual events and celebrations should include delivering ads to supporters to boost the effectiveness of your other communications. Here’s an example of how you can use an ad to celebrate a milestone—ads celebrating the 175th anniversary of Wittenberg University. These types of ads help drive response and maintain the brand set for the celebration, boosting action from donors who have already been receiving numerous messages in email and print about the celebration and campaigns.

Wittenberg square ad
Wittenberg mobile ad

Digital advertising is more than Facebook, and it makes a big difference

One of the most common things I’ve needed to emphasize to fundraisers over the past few years is that the digital boost process is more than just purchasing ads on social media platforms. You definitely want your messages to hit these powerful engines, but you also want your messages to follow your supporters to websites, apps, mobile games, and everywhere they spend their time online. You’ll also want to strongly consider retargeting, the serving up of ads to those who have peeked at your pages but not yet given or registered for events. To cross all the platforms and connect the donors to their giving records, you’ll need to navigate multiple ad specs, complicated aggregators, and technology.

This is more than “let’s buy some Facebook ads.” You’ll need help. Now, it’s time to take action and meet your donors where they spend their time online. We can connect you immediately with a RNL consultant who can share what peers are doing, and craft an omnichannel digital boost plan to amplify your appeals immediately.

Talk with our fundraising experts

Let’s talk about how you can level up donor engagement and connect with donors in a smartphone world. Ask for a free consultation with our experts.

Schedule consultation

About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

Read more about Brian's experience and expertise

Reach Brian by e-mail at

Read More In: