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Improve charity performance & boost fundraising efforts with top digital ad tactics

With online exposure peaking an all-time high, see how you can tackle key challenges with digital advertising to stabilise and grow charity performance

The charity sector has seen ‘unprecedented’ changes in the last couple of  years. 

The UK saw decreasing revenues in 2020 following lockdown restrictions and economic certainty, but it’s not all doom and gloom. UK charities reported a 35% increase in online revenue during 2020 and in the United States, charitable giving grew by 5.1%

Many organisations worldwide are now expecting to see strong growth in charity performance heading into 2022. The good news is peak time for charitable donations is November and December so the opportunity to have a strong finish in 2021 is achievable but first, let’s take a look at how charities adapted during COVID-19.

How have charities adapted during the pandemic?

The pandemic demonstrated how quick and resilient the charity sector is in readjusting to new challenges. There were, and still are a multitude of ways that the pandemic affected or is still affecting operations, but the top 7 are:

  1. Remote working or changed office practices
  2. Alternative ways to deliver services or new innovations
  3. New ways to reach beneficiaries
  4. Refocused charity activities and in some cases stopped/reduced services
  5. Collaborations with other organisations or groups
  6. Invested in new technology or digital tools
  7. Started emergency fundraising

What more can be done to grow charity performance?

If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that digital is the place to focus for many charities. UK charities saw an acceleration in certain areas of digital development, meaning 60% now have a digital strategy in place. The top digital trends for charity are email, social media, virtual events and digital display advertising.

What’s interesting to note is even with the uptake in digital utilisation, many charities feel their digital service delivery is fair / poor so focusing on digital channels that require minimal investment in terms of resources and budgets are encouraged to realise faster gains.

Channels - Improve charity performance & boost fundraising efforts with top digital ad tactics (2240 × 800px)

  • Email is great to communicate with your database and gaining new donations or sustaining loyalty, but the numbers you reach are heavily dependent on data policies (GDPR or CCPA) and having an opted-in database, which can be a hindrance if your database is too small or best practice is not in place. Consistent email requires planning and the right tools.
  • Social Media is good to build supporters, boost donations, share success stories & create communities organically but if you really want to reach new audiences and the sizes you need, paid social is the way to tap into new users to drive numbers. Social requires an on-hand approach for posts, new audiences & monitoring the community.
  • Virtual Events have taken over in-person fundraising, and this has been a crucial tactic during the pandemic to ensure fundraising events continue to bring donations regardless of the format they’re delivered. The resource and cost investments are drastically smaller but promoting the event to a vast number of like-minded users to get the right numbers is the challenge.
  • Digital Display Ads is a fantastic way to raise awareness online with users most likely to donate and boost donations. Display Ad campaigns can be set up quickly to offer immediate branded messaging to drive instant engagement and improve charity performance which is easily measured in traffic and conversions.


How do digital display ads drive better charity performance? 

The biggest benefit by far is the extended reach and targeting capabilities digital display ads have and this has only grown further and become more effective with the growth of online users since the pandemic began.

By reviewing click-through-rates (CTR) and conversions from digital ad campaigns, organisations can see the audiences which are engaging and converting the most. Many marketing teams within the charity sector space are particularly interested in the audience demographics and target audiences that are engaging and donating as this helps to shape better approaches and more targeted campaigns.

Charities that haven’t ventured into the world of online advertising often have a fear that a tight budget won’t get them anywhere and it can be difficult to know where to start. We find you don’t have to make digital advertising a key focus in your organisation with a big budget all in one go. The best approach we’ve seen is to start with a particular goal and experiment with digital advertising to prove the concept so you can bring on adopters and roll-out easier. 

When it comes down to investments, charities need to have confidence that when X is invested, they are going to get Y back which is exactly what happened with our client Not-for-Profit client who saw $3 returned for every $1 spent, that’s 200% ROI delivered in their charity ad campaign.


How can digital advertising support my goals to boost charity performance?

There are 4 key objectives in the charity sector that can be enhanced through digital advertising. Check out each fundamental charity objective to see which digital advertising tactics are best used to drive results.

Event Promotions

Events - Run - Improve charity performance & boost fundraising efforts with top digital ad tactics

Raise Awareness


Best Display Ad Tactics: 

  • Audience targeting: age, gender, family status and sporting/ baking or cooking enthusiasts 
  • Geographical remit: dependant on locations


Fundraising & Donations

Improve Donations


  • One off donation
  • Direct debit donations
  • Donate items 
  • Gift in wills – Legacy 
  • Gift in Memoriam

Best Display Ad Tactics: 

  • Audience targeting: age, gender, family status and keywords searched
  • Website targeting: People who have visited particular websites



Boost revenues


  • Spending in store
  • Purchasing products
  • Ticket purchasing
  • Memberships

Best Display Ad Tactics: 

  • Geofencing: High streets or previous store visitors, local theatres, parks and conservation areas
  • Audience targeting: matched to your target market demographic
  • Retargeting: Retarget previous visitors for better conversion rates



Resources - Improve charity performance & boost fundraising efforts with top digital ad tactics

Find the right skills for your needs


  • Employees
  • Volunteers

Best Display Ad Tactics:

  • Audience targeting:  age, gender, family status and keywords searched
  • Website targeting: People who have visited particular websites


The key benefits of having digital advertising as a part of the charity marketing mix:

  • Promote why your charity is worthy of someone’s monetary donation
  • React fast to a crisis or event and quickly engage support and donations, the turn around on digital display ad campaigns is fast
  • Engage on an ongoing basis for continued loyalty and better target people most likely to donate to increase donations
  • Accessing the right audiences and tapping into targeting tactics that help develop future successful campaigns
  • Create better brand awareness and raise your charities profile
  • Highlight the different ways people can raise money and donate

The giving season is here and this is a crucial time for charities and the non-profit sector to get the right promotional activities in place to drive donations, fundraising and improve overall charity performance. 

For more information on how digital advertising can be one of your key donation driving activities, contact us today.

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