A Case Study: What nonprofits can learn about wealth targeting from selling investment real estate on Facebook.

I feel strongly about the power of the tools and strategies available today to savvy digital marketers. To put myself to the test, I decided that I would drink my own medicine and attempt to sell my home using only social media. As a nonprofit fundraiser, I think you will be able to see the application.

The results? Within a few weeks of listing and after having only spent $462 we closed on a full price cash offer. (We were under contract within two weeks of the campaign starting. Unfortunately, that deal fell through a month later on buyer financing concerns. We hit the reset button on the campaign, and again within two weeks we were back under contract.)

What follows are the simple yet powerful social marketing steps I took to sell our property. These steps are the foundation for our service line at Benz Whaley Flessner. We call it the Digital Fundraising Model.

1. Clear Marketing Goal:

The first step was for me to come up with a clear marketing goal. In this case, it was easy. I needed to sell our duplex as quickly as I could to be able to move and accept this new position at Bentz Whaley Flessner.

2. Clearly Defined Audiences:

In this case, I knew I needed to be as narrow as possible. Social networks reward advertisers who are good at targeting with lower costs. Our duplex was near Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. I guessed that real estate investors would be interested. More specifically I knew that investors who had children attending one of these schools would be more interested. I also knew that at our price point I would need investors with enough cash to make the purchase. I wrote down as many attributes of this persona as I could think of.

Now for the magic. I went into Facebook and built two audiences.

Audience #1: 

People living in Utah, between 18 and 65, male or female, who made over $500K a year, had a net worth of $1 million or more, had liquid assets on hand of $1 million or more, who also had interests in BYU or UVU and had adult children between the ages of 18-26.

Audience #2: 

People who lived anywhere in the United States, between 18-65, male or female, who made over $500K a year, had a net worth of $2 million or more, had $3 million in liquid assets on hand, had current real estate investments, had adult children aged 18 to 26, and were members of the LDS Church (BYU is an LDS owned institution).

The above graphic shows one iteration during the optimization process. You’ll see it was further narrowed to just Utah to increase performance. See optimization section below.

Yes, you can be this detailed. That is what is so exciting for nonprofits seeking to increase their major donor base. This is only a sample of the thousands of criteria available. Remember, I was simply trying to sell a home. I needed to be very specific on who I thought could and would buy. The two audiences above are what I came up with.

3. Messaging that Resonated:

For the messaging, I kept it simple and clear. I had a set of images in a carousel ad unit. Those images were a photo tour of the property.

The headline for the ad simply stated:

“Legal Duplex For Sale Near BYU! Open House This Saturday”

The ad body had the following:

“Two separate homes on one lot. Fully renovated 1895 colonial on the outside, brand new inside. In 13 years the property has never been vacant! Rent back house for $900 a month and/or front house for $1,200 a month. If you have kids going to BYU or UVU, this would be a great investment property. BYU housing has walked through the property and would approve it if you furnished it for students. Look at all other duplexes in the city first, and you will see this one is head and shoulders above the rest and at a great price.”

 4. Channel Selection:

In this case, I knew that my audience of middle-aged parents of college students was going to be on Facebook more than any other network, so I choose to focus all my efforts on that platform. I could have done something on Pinterest and considering the overwhelming response from women in my target group I would do Pinterest if I had to do it again.

5. Campaign Time:

I launched the campaign with the goal of encouraging open house attendance. The ads started on a Monday. At the open house that Saturday we had about 40 people come through the home many of whom had heard about it on Facebook. The following week we did the same thing, and another 40 or so people came through. By the second weekend, we had an offer from a family on the east coast who had children attending BYU and were looking for an investment property. However, this deal eventually fell through, and we ran the ad campaign again. This time we did not have time for open houses because we were in the middle of packing for a move. The ads left the open house invite off but still produced a number of phone calls. After another two weeks of ads, we had a full price cash offer from a family who also had children attending BYU and were looking for an investment. One week later we closed on the property.

6. Engagement:

This campaign went so quickly there ended up being very little engagement. I had several leave comments, like, and share the campaign. I also had several ask questions and schedule visits through Facebook Messenger. Finally, I spent a fair amount of time on the phone as the campaign was designed to encourage a phone call.

7. Optimization:

Each day I checked on the ads and made adjustments based on the data that was coming in from Facebook. Doing this takes more than this short article to explain, but in essence, I would change the creative, text, calls-to-action, or audience targeting based on ad performance. As a result, my final metrics were as follows.

  • Relevancy Score: 10 out of 10 (that is hard to do…ask me about this)
  • Campaign Reach- 10,698 individuals
  • Clicks through to get more information: 979
  • Comments: 6
  • Ad Shares: 7
  • Cost per click: $0.47
  • Women who clicked = 79%
  • Men who clicked = 20%
  • Largest age grouping was 45-54 year-olds.
  • Total Spent: $462.15

Can you see the value?

Based on what I have shared above, can you begin to see how powerful these new tools are? What if you had a way to target wealthy donors who also had an affinity to your cause? Can you see why I am so excited to be at the international fundraising consultancy, Bentz Whaley Flessner?

Now is the time for charities to get serious about their digital marketing. It’s not just a tool to talk with your millennial donors. Major donors are on these networks; we can find them, build relevant content, and invite them to support our cause.


If you are interested in learning more about our digital fundraising strategies and new services, please reach out and let’s chat. I’d love to help! Take a look at our new service offerings as well. I think you will find we have the most comprehensive and up to date offerings on the market today.



P.S. To those real estate agents who may read this. I did not set out to innovate in your space. As you might imagine, and totally unintentional on my part, I have had several agents take notice, reach out, and asked for help doing something similar. I am not a real estate consultant but I know those who can help. Feel free to reach out and I’ll connect the dots.

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