6 Forward-Thinking Strategies to Boost Your Advocacy Efforts
Advocacy is at the core of every nonprofit organization in one form or another. Most nonprofits are looking to make some sort of social change in the world.
It is easy to get caught up in fundraising efforts as a nonprofit and count solely on those campaigns and projects to advocate for your audience. While this is helpful, fundraising should not be your only advocacy effort!
Advocacy brings awareness to specific causes and social issues in the world. This attention makes it easier to generate change in the sphere of that issue.
Update your advocacy strategy to make the biggest splash possible in the social sphere.
Update your advocacy efforts with the following six strategies:
- Utilize online advocacy software.
- Start an online petition.
- Make the most of social media.
- Don’t forget about online fundraising.
- Employ email marketing techniques.
- Host advocacy events.
Let’s check out the first of these strategies!
1. Utilize Online Advocacy Software.
Online advocacy software is an incredibly useful tool to help get the word out about your nonprofit’s cause.
These software solutions move all your advocacy needs to a single location in order to keep your organization organized.
Different software has different functions; technology is never one-size-fits-all. Do your research so you can effectively choose the software that will best serve the needs of your organization.
Some of the features offered by various advocacy platforms are:
- Storing your supporter’s data. Storing the information of your supporters enables your organization to reach out to them again in the future.
- Building online petitions. While paper petitions are great, moving them online broadens their reach past your geographic surroundings.
- Online fundraising options. Online fundraising gives supporters a way to directly show their support for your organization without leaving the house.
- Social media integration. Social media gives you a platform to tell the world about your organization. This function makes it easy to use social media to its full potential.
- Direct messaging. Direct messaging through email, text-message, and other methods increases the likelihood that your supporters will read your messages.
- Website updating. Updating your website to include your latest efforts helps keep your supporters up-to-date.
To get started searching for the advocacy software that best fits your organization, check out Double the Donation’s list of top advocacy software solutions.
2. Start an Online Petition.
Petitions have been used for years to gather supporters around specific social issues. They have been a traditional method of sharing your voice and support for important issues.
However, paper petitions are being used less and less in society. Online petitions are all the rage now.
Online petitions not only tell the world about your cause, but they are also a great way to reach out to new potential supporters or donors.
While writing your online petition, be sure to include the following strategies:
- Brand the petition to your organization. Use your brand’s logo, colors, pictures and other elements that make your nonprofit unique. Readers are more likely to sign the petition if they associate it with an established brand.
- Use an effective call-to-action. Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do for your petition. Don’t beat around the bush when you request their signatures. Plus, if there is further action you want them to take, like posting to social media, tell them!
- Include the mission statement of your organization. Clearly communicate the overall mission of your organization in addition to the specific cause that this petition advocates for. Give supporters as much information as they need to understand, but be concise.
Once you have created your petition with all these elements, make sure it is accessible to your supporters. Make sure they can find it through all your online channels from your website to your social media pages.
However, especially when you make your form available on social media, don’t forget to optimize it for mobile viewing. Most people access social media accounts from their smartphones, so they will be seeing (and signing) your form on a phone screen.
To read more about these options and more, check out SalsaLab’s complete guide to online petitions.
3. Make the Most of Social Media.
Social media is a storytelling platform perfect for advocacy. Creating a social media strategy for your organization helps spread the word of your organization far and wide across the Internet.
Share your nonprofit’s mission as well as the personal narratives of those who have benefitted from your organization on social media pages. Your social media pages also give a platform to those impacted by your work so they can share their stories.
Leverage your social media to advocate for your cause by trying these strategies:
- Create a hashtag for your cause. Get your supporters involved with a hashtag designed specifically for your nonprofit’s cause. Encourage them to use this hashtag on Twitter to spread the word.
- Include a social media button for supporters. Keep the involvement going with social media buttons that allow your supporters to share their involvement in your organization such as donations and petitions.
- Start a week-long social media boost. Choose a week that you want to push your social media efforts. Next, choose a theme to post about for that week. Post each day with new information about that theme and encourage people to share the posts.
- Include important links. Include the links to your social media pages that you want people to visit. For instance, include links back to your website, to your donation pages and to petitions.
Social media pages are no longer optional for nonprofit advocacy. These platforms have become so widespread that not using them can be detrimental to organizations.
Get the most out of your social media strategy and use it for your advocacy efforts.
4. Don’t Forget About Online Fundraising.
While online fundraising shouldn’t be your only advocacy effort, that doesn’t take away its importance for advocacy.
Fundraising is a cornerstone to the functionality of your organization. You need funds to run your day-to-day operations as well as fund specific projects. Advocating with fundraisers knocks out two birds with one stone: raising money and awareness.
In addition, fundraising gives supporters a chance to immediately take action to support your cause in a meaningful way.
Online fundraising can take many different forms. A few of these online fundraising options include:
- Donation pages.
- Crowdfunding campaigns.
- Pledge drives.
- Matching gifts drives.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
- Text-to-give campaigns.
- Online auctions.
- Selling merchandise online.
General fundraising for your organization through donation pages and selling merchandise is a great way to raise money for an annual fund. These options can also be used for more specific causes.
However, there are also some options that must be used for more specific causes and are less effective for general funds.
For instance, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are much more effective when tied to a specific project. Choose your website for your crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign carefully so that you can include your message and project to make the best profit possible.
Once you have these details hammered out for any online fundraising option, start spreading the word about them. Spreading the word about this fundraiser is what helps advocate your cause and helps you raise as much money as possible.
5. Employ Email Marketing Techniques.
Email marketing advocates for your cause by sending messages directly to the inboxes of your supporters. Therefore, it is important for emails to use strategic marketing techniques to appeal to the readers.
The first email marketing technique to employ is to ensure people actually read the message you are sending them. When you are writing an email, use the following strategies to encourage readership:
- Use compelling subject lines to interest your readers.
- Make sure your message is brief and compelling.
- Use visuals to break up the text.
- Brand your emails to your organization.
When you are considering more specific messages, try segmenting your email list to best reach specific groups of readers.
You may choose to segment your email list by demographics such as:
- Past donors
- New signups
By segmenting your email lists into categories such as these, you can use specific appeals to reach that particular audience.
For instance, you may choose to push social media harder with younger audiences. Or you may choose to reach out to people living in a particular area about a local event you’ve organized.
Emailing is not out-of-date. People still regularly check their inboxes. Make sure your name is there for them to see!
6. Host Advocacy Events.
While online advocacy strategies are incredibly effective in this digital age, there is still something about an in-person event that excites almost any audience.
Try hosting an advocacy event to get the word out about your cause.
Advocacy events can be either work for or against the issue at hand. For instance, you might advocate against the actions of the government, a business, or another group of powerful people when a decision is made that your organization disagrees with.
In response to the decisions that others have made, you may choose to:
- Host a classic protest with signs, banners, and other people marching in the streets.
- Organize a letter-writing campaign where members of your organization get together to write letters to the other organization.
- Set up meetings with executives at the organization to open up discussions about the decision that was made.
While all these examples fight against the decision of another organization, your nonprofit is more likely to have an issue at heart that you would like to draw attention to in a more positive light. For example, you might fight for awareness of breast cancer.
In order to bring attention to awareness issues such as these, you may choose to:
- Organize a 5K race for awareness. You can organize all sorts of other events too with event planning software to keep you organized.
- Sports team sponsorship of your cause with themed t-shirts and a fundraiser incorporated in the game.
- An educational night. For example, a hospital might offer free testing for a disease and educate the attendees of dangers.
Raising awareness of issues with events is a great strategy to get people up and moving for a cause they care about.
Bring attention to your nonprofit with advanced advocacy efforts. These six strategies will bring your advocacy plan up-to-date and enhance your nonprofit’s visibility to your online and in-person communities!
Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation, an organization that helps nonprofit organizations and schools increase fundraising from corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs.