Your School’s Facebook Advertising Budget Should Be 10x Bigger

Does your advancement communications budget look something like this?

Odds are, it does.

Advancement leaders have informed us that direct mail budgets can be as much as 100 times larger than Facebook advertising budgets.

This gap remains in spite of many examples of Facebook delivering ROI to marketers. Still, many advancement professionals spend significant staff time (money) creating and sharing content on Facebook in the hope that alumni and donors will stay informed and engaged.

But don’t let your page “Likes” fool you. We know that only 6% of fans see your post “organically” (aka “for free”), and this figure is falling. And falling. And falling.

So if you run the Williams College Facebook page, you might tell your VP of Advancement that you have ~10,500 likes. That sounds pretty good.

But instead, you should be telling your VP of Advancement that you only reach 6% of your audience—or 630 people. Let’s assume that half of those Fans you reach are alumni…and that number gets cut to 315 people.

That’s not quite as exciting when you think about how much staff time (money) goes into creating and sharing content. Spending staff time (money) on Facebook without paying to promote posts is like doing a direct mail campaign without buying stamps. You should budget to promote your posts. Or you shouldn’t post at all. I recommend the former.

Here are two budget line items I suggest you include in your FY ‘15 plan to help.

Social Donor Management Objective #1:
Increase Page Likes


Very simply, your Fans become a part of your social donor funnel. Our data shows that constituents who like content on your Facebook page are significantly more likely to donate. In addition to the hard ROI generated from more targeted fundraising efforts, soft ROI is generated by your ability to recruit volunteers and class leaders, grow event attendance, and support regional clubs via Facebook.

How to Budget

Start by setting a baseline for your alumni Facebook page. Let’s look at Boston College as our example:

Total Alumni: 165,632

Estimated Alumni on Facebook: 115,000

Total Fans Currently on Alumni Facebook Page: ~6,000 (or 5.2% of all alumni on Facebook)

Alumni Fan Gap: 109,000

Cost Per Fan: $0.20 (EverTrue estimate based on internal data)

Total Annual Budget Requirement: 109,000 x $0.02 = $21,800

BC should budget just under $2,000 per month to grow their Facebook fan base, assuming BC wants as many alumni as possible to “Like” the school’s page. This analysis assumes that “Cost Per Fan” will average $0.20 throughout the course of the year.

Social Donor Management Objective #2:
Increase Post Reach


As mentioned above, without paying to promote a post, you can count on reaching only about 6% of your fans. That means a typical post on the Boston College Alumni page might only reach 360 alumni out of 6,000 fans.

How to Budget

Based on current Facebook data we’re seeing, BC should budget $5 for every 1,000 Fans they would like to reach per promoted post. Boston College Alumni posts around once per day. This budget per post should grow as the number of fans grow over the course of the year.

So assuming 300 workdays per year and an average of 10,000 fans, that’s up to $50 per day, or $15,000 in annual spending.

The Bottom Line

Combining these two tactics suggests Boston College Alumni should budget over $35,000 for Facebook ads in fiscal year 2015. Does that sound a little crazy?

I think it’s a little crazy to not make this kind of investment to reach your audience in a highly-targeted manner that can support the existing strategic priorities of your senior leadership.

Making investments like this are a core part of a comprehensive social donor management strategy.

If you’d like to estimate your Facebook advertising budget, please access our free Facebook Advertising Budgeting Tool.


A special thanks to Keith Hannon for inspiring this post.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments