Innovation. Integration. Immediacy = Online Success for HRC
“And educating people at the same time,” Crowley adds. “A key component of what we do is education, and that’s not always measurable. Without education, we’re not going to get the support we need to get our laws passed.”
By September, the Matthew Shepard Act had been passed by both the House and Senate. But the victory was short-lived, as it died in conference committee shortly after.
“So we’ll be starting all over again with our campaign,” Grams says. “That’s what it’s like working on the Hill.”
As far as numbers for HRC, the Fight Hate Campaign brought in 2,000 new donors and 70,000 subscribers to the online community.
“I keep asking myself, ‘How are we going to top this?’ and then we do,” Grams says. “In December, we implemented an online membership drive campaign — ‘2008: The Year to Win’ — and over the next six weeks we had almost 10,000 people give $500,000. Roughly half of them were first-time donors to HRC.”
HRC began thinking about an online strategy in 2000 when Grams and Crowley figured if the presidential candidates were doing it, how hard could it be? They admit to making many mistakes — like crashing their server with the very first e-mail attempt — but persevering. Once the commitment was made, they made sure that e-mail address collection was a priority, and they started doing it as part of every contact with the public — online petitions, e-mails, events, etc.
“You really have to instill that at every level of the organization. That’s step one. That’s the hard part,” Grams says. “Once that’s done, you have to let the organization speak for itself, communicate the right amount, share information, invite [supporters] to things, let them get to know you, develop a relationship with them.
“Collect, cultivate, convert. It really is as basic and as simple as that,” he adds.