[Guide] How to promote your app to new audiences and skyrocket your number of monthly donations (AIDA method)

May 1, 2023

Are you wondering how to promote your charity app? Or maybe you're wondering what is the best way to promote your charity app?
This guide is for all professional fundraisers and social media marketers who want to learn how to use a simple, yet effective method to get people online from strangers to app donors.

To make the best use of this guide, please make sure you have the following tools set up and ready to use:

  • Your own charity app that is able to collect donations
  • A new or existing Facebook page to promote content about the app (For instance: "Cool new app name by our cool charity")
  • A Facebook ad account
  • A Facebook pixel ready to be installed on a landing page
  • High-quality images/videos of your cause for content

As a fellow marketer, I can tell you that it's probably easier to set those things up on the go instead of preparing them beforehand, but that's just how I like to work.

Why only paid ads will not work

Simply put: We tried it, and it flopped. But there is a very simple reason behind why you can live off paid ads for products like sneakers but struggle to get people to donate to your cause the same way.

Donations are about relationships. You support a cause only if you feel somehow connected to the idea or a person you care about. Paid ads are great to capture attention, but not effective at building trust or building a relationship. On the other hand, organic marketing is hard to get started with and grow your donor base, but it is exceptionally good at building relationships between you, your donors, and the cause. This is the reason why you have to combine both to be successful.

Combine paid and organic marketing (AIDA)

The AIDA method was developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 and grew a big following since then. AIDA is an acronym and stands for:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

This describes a typical marketing funnel online, where you grab someone's attention, spike their interest in your cause, and fuel the desire to be part of it. In the final step, you give them the chance to take action by donating.

You can use this framework to get more people using your charity app, by grabbing their attention through paid advertisements on Social media and making them like your Facebook page. You spike their interest by posting engaging and informative content on your page regularly. Fuel the desire of being a part of the cause by sending them to your landing page and finally letting them take action by downloading the app.

Let's take a look at each of those steps in detail. Until now, this guide was very conceptual, now we go deep into the topic, so if you have any questions about a specific practice, feel free to contact me here. You can find a glossary at the bottom of the page.

Attention with paid ads

Grabbing someone's attention online gets harder every day. The only way to pierce through the noise in a newsfeed is with good creatives. Targeting gets less important too, as social media users get smarter and more intentional about their click behavior.

If you follow the next few steps, you will master the art of grabbing attention with paid ads and will be able to set up the next section well.

1. Know your audience
Or in other words: Let Facebook know who your audience is. This means, you either have already a Facebook page with a few thousand likes and can create a 5% lookalike audience of it. If you don't, you have to invest at least €500 to help Facebook understand who clicks your ads. How can you do this? Let your ads run for 2 weeks without any targeting options but the country you want to target. After this period you have enough page likes to create a lookalike audience + Facebook knows exactly who clicks on your ads.

2. Setup a campaign in your Facebook ad manager

  1. Set the goal to engagement and activate advantage campaign budget
  2. Create an ad set and choose Facebook Page as the goal for the campaign. Choose the new Facebook page you created.
  3. For the audience, use what you learned at 1. Know your audience and add either a lookalike audience or let the campaign run for 2 weeks with only the country as a restriction.
  4. Placements: Choose manual placements and use only Facebook Feed as placement. This is the most effective placement of all and doesn't require you to create too many different content formats.
  5. Create ads that pierce through the noise
    Nowadays, making good creatives is the most important part of an ad. Even most of the actual targeting happens in your creative. Please learn here how to make kick-ass creatives.
    Create up to 3 different creatives for each ad set, to make sure you learn what works best and remove creatives that don't work.
  6. Start the campaign and see how your page likes will grow.

Interest with organic content

Please make sure your Facebook page is equipped with a good profile image, a banner, and 3-5 organic posts to make sure people recognize it as a professional page. Once your page starts gaining a following, you can start by posting content. The main goal here is to build trust by building a relationship between you, the donor, and the cause.
Good content again is important. Learn how to create engaging content as an NGO here. When posting, make sure to have those things in mind:

  • Keep a schedule. Make it once per day or twice a week, as long as people can expect new content.
  • Make it a conversation. Just posting doesn't work if you don't engage with people in the comments.
  • Learn what is interesting. If people ask to show how you plan this campaign in your office, use that feedback and show that you listen.
  • The main goal again is to build a relationship and be interesting instead of asking for a donation.

Desire with an opportunity to engage

This is the most difficult, but also the most rewarding step: Get them to do something, by fueling a desire. You can do that by showing them that they miss out on so many amazing things, like being part of your community.
How to show that? With organic posts asking to visit the landing page and with paid ads targeting only page likers to also visit your landing page.

Why a landing page? Your app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. You have to have an iPhone to visit the App Store and an Android device to visit the Play Store, so you need an additional step to separate your audience. Also, you can track conversions on your landing page. What does an effective landing page look like? Visit this tutorial here and copy-paste it with your design, that's it!

Organic content: Once or twice per week, post text or an image with a clear call to action to visit the landing page to do something. It could be:

  • Download the app
  • Donate with Apple Pay
  • See the impact of your donation
  • Join our community of app users

Paid ads: 

  1. Create an ad campaign with conversions as objective and active advantage campaign management
  2. Create an ad set and choose website conversions
  3. Create a custom conversion that triggers when people click on the "download app buttons" on your website (Learn how to do that here.)
  4. The audience is your page likes. If you have less than a thousand page likes, copy this ad set and create a 5% lookalike audience of your page likes.
  5. Make sure to set devices to mobile devices, so only people on their phones get to the landing page.
  6. Choose manual placements and choose Facebook and Instagram feed + Instagram Explore.
  7. Make powerful creatives, at least 3-5 per ad set, and use the "Learn more" button as a call to action.
  8. Add tracking by adding your custom conversion.
  9. Start the campaign and optimize creatives regularly.

Action taking on the landing page

The final step before people download the app is to learn on the landing page what it is all about and how donors can benefit from the app.

Using a landing page increased the conversion rate on the App Store Page from 3% to 25%.

Top tip: Make your landing page mobile first, as most people will visit from their phones.

After browsing through the page people click on the download button and visit the app store page. You can boost the effectiveness of this page by getting more positive reviews and having high-quality graphics there.

And then, people download the app.
That's it. You successfully transformed a stranger into an app user who will soon be a high-value supporter of your charity.


  • Landing page: A page on your website that's dedicated to converting visitors to do something. People usually land there after clicking on an ad or post.
  • Facebook pixel: A tool of Facebook that allows you to track people visiting your website.
  • Marketing funnel: A way how to describe different stages of a person online, funneling down from many potential donors down to a few app users
  • Newsfeed: The main page on Facebook where you scroll through to see postings of pages you liked and advertisements
  • Lookalike audience: An audience of people who share the same characteristics as an audience you already have.
  • Targeting: Specify your target audience with filters like nationality, interests, and demographics.

About the Author
Nik Zechner

Niklas loves simplicity and design. As a founder of Felloz he takes on design and marketing challenges and shares them with the community.

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