Diversity & Inclusion

Is Digital Media Right For You? A Guide For Social Benefit Organizations

“What does my organization need to do to get started with digital media in order to drive results?” is a common question Ovative is asked when partnering with social benefit organizations and non-profits. The key? Quantifiable goals, a seamless user experience, alluring delivery, and effective measurement. 

In this article, we have outlined the key questions we often hear from social benefit organizations about getting started with digital marketing. Marketers at these organizations can evaluate their readiness by answering 4 key questions about their goals, experience, messaging, and measurement. 

Frequently Asked Questions We Get From Social Benefit Organizations 

  • We have a great message. How do we get the word out? 
  • We know Paid Media is important but where do we start? 
  • Our audience has been isolated during COVID and our traditional ways of reaching them are diminished. Can digital media help us effectively reach them? 
  • How much money will a digital strategy cost? How do I estimate how much money I need to run a successful campaign? 
  • How long does it take to get a campaign up and running?  
  • Will I see results right away? How should I measure success? 

If these questions sound familiar, keep reading to evaluate your readiness to get started with digital media.


Evaluating Your Readiness 

When determining readiness for running a paid media campaign, there are four key questions you should set out to answer.  

1. What does our organization want to achieve through this campaign? 

Whether you are aiming to drive a valuable interaction (such as a donation or application) or looking to get the word out about your organization, it is essential to have clear, quantifiable goals. If your objective is to drive donations, be specific about the number of donations you would like to receive (27 new donations) or the total amount you would like to raise ($10,000). We recommend running digital media when you have a specific behavior you are trying to elicit, as campaigns focused exclusively on awareness are hard to measure for success, and therefore hard to improve on overtime. For instance, the campaign may deliver a thousand impressions, but unless you see a specific action taken from those impressions, it will be difficult to understand how they influenced later behavior. Setting quantifiable goals that are based on consumer actions can help you track how different components of the campaign experience do or do not support those goals. 

2. What actions do we want consumers to take in response to our message? 

Effective paid media leads to action—motivating users to sign-up, donate, learn more, etc. However, this action can be lost if the website users land on doesn’t give them clear next steps to follow. Before running paid media, ensure you have a clear experience on the website or landing page you are directing traffic to. Lay out next steps in a concise way to make it easy for users to continue through the process. Having an obvious “call to action” (apply now or donate here) can help users action consistently.

3. How will we deliver our message? 

Once you have a measurable goal for the campaign and a frictionless experience for the user, the next step is defining the delivery method. There are a several factors you should consider: 

  • Budget. It is possible to run an effective test with a budget between $2 – $3,000. The goal should be to spend enough to create a good data set, understand what is working or not working, and use the learnings to optimize your next test. While you do not need a large budget to run a paid media campaign, you should invest enough to reach your target audience, stay competitive, and be flexible on investing more when necessary.  
  • Channel Strategy. For an initial campaign, we recommend testing Facebook ads as they give you significant opportunity to experiment with targeting, creative treatments, and enable quick learnings. Google Search should be considered next depending on your brand’s awareness and goals. Both of these channels allow for strong testing and learning, including geo-testing, ad are relatively easy to setup to get started.
  • Creative. Stale or stagnant creative can cause fatigue in a campaign so it is important to have several creative variations to swap in and out. Keeping things fresh and lively will continue to draw people in weeks and months into a campaign. On Facebook, best practice is to use visual graphics and experiment with 3-5 ad formats per set (various sizes, still and animated) and copy.  
  • Execution. You will want a member of your team to consistently manage the campaign once it is up and running, even just for an initial test. Effective paid media management through hands-on budget optimization, audience analysis, and creative fluidity can dramatically impact the success of a campaign. 

4. How will we measure success? 

Without an effective measurement strategy, you are likely to miss key learnings and opportunities to improve going forward. Ensure you have appropriate tools in place to measure user experience on the site (such as a web analytics tool, like Google Analytics or Adobe) and on the platform where you are advertising to capture real-time campaign insights.

As results come in, it is important to consider the full enterprise impact of marketing efforts to evaluate if the campaign made a true impact on the business. This means looking beyond Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) or “last click”. Marketers should consider the components of Enterprise Marketing Return (EMR) to understand the true value of their campaign. Check out these examples of how the four EMR pillars can be used to understand the holistic impact of your campaign:

  1. Customer Value: a campaign may help attract high-value donors that will continue donating for years to come, which may not be reflected when measuring to last click ROAS.
  2. Enterprise Return (online and offline results): looking at immediate campaign performance will help you understand how many sign-ups for your event occurred, but will not fully reflect the donations made leading up to and in-person at the event.
  3. Incrementality: understanding if the donation or sign-up would have happened without the advertisement is key. Ask yourself, “did this campaign reach an audience that would have already supported the cause?” 
  4. Profitability: testing to determine which action (donating directly, signing up for an event) is most effective to put paid media behind will help you maximize your budgets long-term.

Applying the EMR mindset and considering those four components helps marketers advocate for the holistic impact of their marketing campaigns. EMR shows return beyond what is immediately driven and can increase buy-in to continue marketing efforts.


Taking Action

Ovative partnered with the MN Department of Human Services and General Mills to use digital media to connect Minnesotans in need with essential food support. Read the full case study here! 


Ovative, General Mills, and the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) partnered to use digital media to drive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications and connect Minnesotans with food support. This campaign marked the beginning of DHS’ journey to drive registrations using digital media. Beginning amidst the pandemic, it became essential to use digital to reach Minnesotans, especially with young families, to connect them with food support. The campaign included a redesigned site experience, new creative across channels, and media investments in Facebook and Google search. The campaign goals were to drive increased awareness for SNAP, improve the perception of the program, and understand how digital media could be used to support DHS’ mission ongoing.


  1. Reviewed paid media best practices with General Mills and DHS teams to define program goals and identify asset requirements for development.
  2. Coordinated with creative and cross-functional teams to create new landing page simplifying application process, centering key information, and improving tone.
  3. Launched paid media across Facebook and Google search, testing multiple creatives and optimizing throughout campaign to minimize cost per referral.
  4. Worked with DHS analytics teams to analyze campaign performance for total program impact, audience effects, and other insights to understand success and ongoing use cases.


  • Drove 6,000 new SNAP applications during the life of the campaign, connecting primarily young families with the proper SNAP food support.
  • Weekly applications increased ~100% during the campaign, and applicant’s success rate of obtaining benefits significantly increased.
  • Received national attention with the GMI Foundation, who shared it has “changed their perspective on what charitable giving can mean”.


How Can Ovative Help?

When done right, paid media campaigns can be an effective and impactful way for social benefit organizations and non-profits to deliver their messages and elicit action from consumers. Through Ovative’s Champions of Change program, the Services pillar empowers employees to use their unique marketing skills and provide Ovative’s full set of offerings to social benefit organizations in the community. Ovative has already provided Services to improve food security (Groveland Food ShelfSNAP), support equal education (The Page Amendment), change how disabilities are perceived (The ArcSpecial Olympics Minnesota), and are underway on additional projects. If you are a social benefit organization or non-profit that would like Ovative’s help maximizing its marketing efforts, connect with us!

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more! 

Molly Reeves

Sr. Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Molly is a Sr. Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

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