Picture this: You’ve spent an hour crafting the perfect Facebook post for your nonprofit organization. You have the perfect picture, you’ve written the perfect caption and you’re ready to share it with your audience. It’s such a great post, in fact, that you’re ready to share it with Facebook user within a 25-mile radius – you’re ready to boost your perfect post.
You excitedly click that little blue “boost post” button and you’re ready to give Facebook your credit card information so you can share your masterpiece with a bigger audience.
Until a few moments later, when Facebook informs you that your ad has not been approved.
Feeling like a deflated balloon, you search for answers. “Why? Why is my ad not approved?”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
It’s a common occurrence, and often times Facebook offers no concrete explanation besides letting you know that your post doesn’t follow their community guidelines. Facebook also doesn’t provide much detailed help when it comes to figuring out what you need to change about your post before they will approve it.
Think about Facebook as if it were a foreign country. In this foreign country, at any time and for any reason, they can make up new laws to enforce, decide their own standards, and what’s appropriate behavior in their country.
You may think you know the laws in this country, when in fact, the laws are ever changing and sometimes hard to understand - especially when it comes to boosting posts for your nonprofit organization’s Facebook page.
Here’s the good news - many of the things Facebook won’t allow in ads or boosted posts are pretty common sense, and likely not something related to most nonprofits. There are, however, a few exceptions that you should know about.
Personal Attributes and Language
One of the most common roadblocks nonprofits hit when trying to boost posts is what Facebook calls “Personal Attributes.”
Facebook has strict standards when it comes to content that even implies personal attributes. What does Facebook consider a personal attribute? Take a look at this screenshot from Facebook’s policy page:
This is just a portion of Facebook’s Personal Attributes Policy. To view the entire policy, click here.
You can see in the examples Facebook provides, the type of language loopholes you can use to successfully boost your nonprofit’s post. Generally, avoiding the word “you” or anything that remotely has to do with “you” will help you stay on track.
Sensitive Topics and Social Issues
Another common reason Facebook might reject your nonprofit’s ad or boosted post is if your organization deals with sensitive topics or social issues.
If your nonprofit’s mission is heavily debated, or related to an issue in the national spotlight it will likely fall into one of Facebook’s broad “social issues” category.
You might have seen headlines recently calling out Facebook for censoring political-related content that isn’t in line with Facebook’s agenda. Whether those accusations are true or not, Facebook is still a powerful tool that can help your nonprofit reach more people in your community and raise more money. You can still use Facebook to accomplish your goals – you just have to remember, you’re playing on their turf. You have to play by Facebook’s rules.
It might seem hard at first, but after you get the hang of working around the rules, it will get easier.
Special Authorization Process
If your nonprofit’s mission falls into that “social issues” category, or deals with anything remotely related to politics, elections (local or national), or issues of national importance, you’ll have to go through Facebook’s special authorization process. Think of this as a special stamp in your Facebook passport.
Why go through this process? If your nonprofit falls into one of the previously mentioned categories, you have to – or you won’t be able to run ads or boost posts.
Why is Facebook making you do this? According to Facebook, they are ensuring the authenticity of political ads or anything that has to do with political issues or issues of national importance by verifying a user’s identity.
What does this special authorization process entail? Good news - it’s less invasive than a trip to the dermatologist, but it is kind of a hassle.
Depending on your situation, at most, you’ll have to do the following:
The least you’ll have to do:
A disclaimer is simply a line of text that appears alongside your ad that says “Paid for by (Your Nonprofit’s Name).” It sounds scarier than it is. Facebook will prompt you to create this disclaimer – it’s as simple as selecting your organization’s name and checking a box in the ads creation process. Simply writing, “Paid for by (Your Nonprofit’s Name)” in your post is not sufficient by Facebook’s standards. Look for the prompt from Facebook and then follow the steps they give you.
How do you get the ball rolling with the special authorization process? Facebook will prompt you. If your nonprofit’s boosted post or ad appears to fall into one of Facebook’s outlined categories, they will let you know when you’re trying to boost your post. Follow the prompts Facebook gives you, and you’ll be free to go about your business with your special clearance in no time.
The Details Matter
Here are a few more common mistakes that can lead to Facebook rejecting your ad:
Too much text in a Facebook image:
Acceptable amount of text in a Facebook image:
Remember, you can do this! Just follow the prompts from Facebook, use these tips, and don’t take it personally if Facebook rejects your ad. You don’t have to agree with Facebook, but you do have to abide by their rules.
Think of something scary you have done in the past – have you ever taken a trip by yourself? Have you ever run a race? Gone on a big hike? Had a child? Adopted a dog? Bought a house? Moved to a new place? Started a new job? Taken a class? Figuring out how to use Facebook for your nonprofit is small beans compared to all the other amazing things you’ve already done!
To help you along the way even more, here is the complete guide to Facebook’s advertising policies: https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/
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