Facebook Ad Restrictions During the 2020 Election

by Cameron Ripley  |   |  Facebook & Instagram  |  1 comments

3 min to read ✭ In this post, we'll cover the timeline of the Facebook ad restrictions for the upcoming 2020 election, as well as how you can continue to run ads during this time and tactics to persevere.

Recently, in an attempt to reduce the confusion and any possible abuse of the ad platform during the election, Facebook made an announcement, “Preparing for Election Day,” that for forward-thinking nonprofits was frustrating to say the least.

Facebook will temporarily stop running all social issues, electoral or political ads in the United States after the polls close on November 3rd for an undetermined amount of time.

As many nonprofit marketers are acutely aware, Facebook’s “social issues” includes ads related to a very broad set of categories and requires many nonprofits, even if they are apolitical 501(c)(3)s, to apply a “Paid for by” disclaimer in order to fundraise or find supporters for their cause. All “Paid for by” disclaimer ads will be automatically disabled after the polls close on November 3rd.

Unfortunately, this ban hits during year-end fundraising, when many nonprofits raise the majority of their funds for the year in November and December. 



No New Creative or New Ads (October 27th – November 3rd)

Ads that use a “Paid for by” disclaimer (for any social issue, electoral, or political ad) won’t be able to create and run new ads to this time frame. However, as long as ads are live and have received an impression prior to October 27th, changes to the budget, bids, and targeting are allowed. However, edits to the creative, landing pages, placements, or optimizations are not allowed.


No Ads Run for “Paid for by” (November 3rd to TBD Date)

From there, it is expected that Facebook will not lift the ban until there is a clear winner of the election. Hopefully, the ban will be lifted by November 14th, but there is a chance it could stretch into Giving Tuesday if the election is aggressively contested.


Tactics to Pivot & Persevere

Hang in there, we’ve got this. If 2020 has taught us anything it is that the best nonprofit marketers and top-performing organizations are willing to pivot and persevere when needed. So if you are a non-political organization, here are some tips and tactics to overcome the “Paid for by” ban:


It All Starts with a Growth Mindset

Before we talk tactics, we need to talk about mindset. Moving this quickly and being nimble is simply how marketing works in 2020 and going forward. While it’s certainly stressful, the organizations that are up for the challenge will be the biggest winners in years to come. Moving on to tactics.


Try to Run Without a “Paid for by” Disclaimer

For all of our 501(c)(3)s out there (this is difficult for (c)(4)s), as quickly as possible (and definitely before October 26th) try to clone existing Facebook ad campaigns without applying the checkbox. Focus on building ads more likely to be approved as “not political.” Think sharing your impact, gratitude for supporters, and more.  


Try Other Ad Platforms

If the ban does go longer than we hope for, think about investing more into other platforms. Google Ads is a great platform and we’ve been seeing great success on YouTube as well lately. Try other places as well like LinkedIn and Twitter. There are plenty of places to put your budget where people’s attention is, so don’t hesitate to give it a try. 


Invest Time Into Other Channels

How else can you be creative? Think about what other channels outside of ad platforms that make sense to put your time into. Maybe now is the time to put more into your organic social media, send outbound text-only emails through a platform like Mixmax, or try out text-to-donate mobile messaging. There are plenty of ways and places to market to get in front of your audience in addition to Facebook ads. You may have to make a pivot, but you will persevere.   

Cameron Ripley

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