The three most effective Facebook ad audiences for fundraising and list growth

A successful Facebook ad campaign requires the right content to the right audience at the right time. Let's talk about audiences.

Three of the most effective ad audiences I've seen are:

  • People who bounced from your donation page

  • Your email file

  • People who are similar to your best donors — a lifetime value lookalike audience

There’s no one right way to run ads and your results may

A summary of each audience is below.

People who bounced from your donation page

According to the M+R Benchmarks, the average main donation page has a 17% page completion rate. That means for every 100 people who visit your donation page, 83 people don't complete their donation.

Those 83 people might have bounced because they got distracted, the donation page was too complicated, or the donation page copy wasn't compelling. 

If your donation page has a Facebook pixel -- a few lines of code -- in the donation page, you can serve ads on Facebook, Instagram and across the web and mobile apps to people who intended to donate but didn't.

If your main donation page has a conversion rate under 17%, focus on improving that number before you attempt this tactic.

You can also serve ads to everyone who visits your website and doesn’t donate.

Learn how to implement this tactic:

Your email file

Organizations can upload their email file to Facebook to create a custom audience of their supporters and then serve those people with ads.

This audience is less likely to donate than the hot audience above, but your existing supporters are more likely to give than people who aren't on your email list yet.

Facebook recommends a custom audience of at least 1,000 people, but there is no limit to the size of the audience. Some organizations create a custom audience composed of supporters who have been active in the past three or six months because targeting active subscribers can generate the highest return on investment.

This tactic works best when you are sending fundraising asks to your email list and serving ads with the same ask at the same time.

Learn how to implement this tactic:

Lifetime value lookalike audience

A lifetime value lookalike audience is an audience of people who are similar to your best donors.

The most effective tactic that I've seen work for most organizations is to recruit this audience to join the email list by serving them ads with petition asks and then following up with donation asks via email, phone, campaign calls, and texting. 

Unlike the above audiences, this tactic is only limited by the number of action-worthy moments on your issue. If you have a petition that is performing well to your email list, the same ask will likely also work well to a lifetime value lookalike audience.

Learn how to implement this tactic:

Learn how to grow your supporter list & raise more money

Learn how to use lifetime value lookalike audiences and Facebook lead ads in my new online course. 

Smart digital campaigners are combining lead ads on Facebook and Instagram with lifetime value lookalike audiences and recruiting thousands of supporters while raising more money than they are spending on ads.

Some campaigners are seeing 2x, 3.5x and even 7x returns on ad spend over 12 months.

Let me teach you how you can do the same.

In the course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Design a winning lead ad

  • Create an ad audience of likely donors

  • Follow-up with your new supporters

Sign up now for the wait list.


Randall Smith | designer and builder of people-powered campaigns

Hi, I'm Randall Smith. I help people design and build people-powered campaigns.

Most of my job is helping organizers create the systems and structures needed to scale their work.

For example, I’ve supported organizations to:

  • grow from 50 volunteers to 150 chapters in 18 months,

  • organize a day of action with 700 simultaneous events, and

  • drive 1.5 million phone calls to Congress.

Along the way, I’ve learned how to use Facebook ads to recruit new supporters and move them to visit their elected representative, attend a rally and join a team.

Of course, not everyone can join a rally on a specific date or organize their own event, but most people can put their values into action by chipping in a small donation.

By combining effective ad targeting, the right ad copy and the opportunity to participate in offline activities, the organizations I work with are raising $2.00-$7.00 for every dollar spent on Facebook ads while building the people-power of the organization.

Get in touch with me at