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20NTC Session

What Do Nonprofits and Democratic Candidates Have in Common? Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)


In order to get onstage in the 2019 Democratic Party primary debates, candidates were spending up to $70 in online advertising in order to generate just $1 of fundraising. No, that’s not a typo.

But that’s not the full story: The reason that candidates were happy to spend 7000% more than their donations was that each candidate needed to have at least 130,000 unique donors as part of the qualifiers for the debate stage. And without a spot on the stage, their campaign would more or less end.

Nonprofits can learn from this example when it comes to calculating a true ROAS, or return on ad spend. Is it just the money you raise in a fundraising campaign? We’ll look at how to calculate a true return on ad spend, and how you can apply the same principles to your own organization, and your digital strategy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the unsung metric of Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and how to calculate it
  • Determine the real value of spending on online advertising against fundraising goals
  • Use your own ROAS to determine next steps in terms of strategy

Target Audience

Anyone spending money on ads, Marketing and comms decision makers, Strategy-setters


BudgetingCampaignsCase StudyDigital Ads


Alison Glazer

Advertising Manager

Whole Whale

Ali leads Whole Whale’s Advertising and Analytics teams, helping nonprofits build, measure, and learn from campaigns towards the digital metrics that matter to most to their missions.

In her time at Whole Whale, Ali has spent over $1 million in ad dollars to drive impact through resource distribution, volunteer recruitment, and online community growth via digital advertising campaigns. Client work has included Greater Than AIDS, , Crisis Text Line, PJ Library, and World Animal Protection.

Certified in Google Analytics and Google Ads (Search, Display, and Video) Ali and has managed over $5 million of Google Ad Grant dollars, helping nonprofits reach and engage core audiences. She has successfully managed the Ad Grant and increased on and offline conversions for over a dozen nonprofits — in one instance increasing volunteer registrations by over 250% in just 3 months. She also trains clients and the nonprofit community on all things digital advertising and has presented at the Nonprofit Technology Conference and lectured at Columbia University.

Beyond client services, Ali is interested in team management and dynamics as well as the workplace conditions that make humans happiest and most effective and manages our internal project tracking and sprint recap system. She co-authored Whole Whale’s ebook on internship management for nonprofits in an effort to get even more smart people into awesome organizations.

Donna Whitney

Digital Strategist

Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Donna has over 9 years as a digital strategist in the non-profit sector and over 20 years of experience integrating technology, data, and design. Currently she is handling website management, SEO improvements and digital strategies for Lung Cancer Foundation of America, while fitting in adventures like helping to renovate a 17th-century chateau into a yoga studio in France, advocating for clean water policies in Florida, and renovate a property in upstate New York – life as a digital nomad is an amazing lifestyle.

Cindy Iker

Operations Manager

Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Cindy joined Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) in 2011 as their first paid staff member. Since then, the LCFA team has grown. While we still only have 2 full-time team members, we work with some terrific vendors who help LCFA achieve our goals of funding lung cancer research and increasing awareness of the huge public health impact of lung cancer and the disparity in research funding. Visit us on the web at

Angela Kung

Development Manager

World Animal Protection

Angela is a digital marketer turned non-profit enthusiast: after 4+ years of media experience across multiple verticals in both UK and US markets, she decided to change careers and venture into the non-profit world. She is currently focused on establishing corporate partnerships, organizing events and raising awareness for World Animal Protection, an NGO that moves the world to protect animals.

Athena Anduiza

Digital Marketing Manager

World Animal Protection US

Athena is the Digital Marketing Manager for World Animal Protection US, a global animal welfare nonprofit working to create a world free from animal cruelty and suffering. She focuses on all things digital including website updates and optimization, social media, SEO, content creation, paid media and more!





March 26, 2020


10:30am – 11:45am



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