Digital Advocacy: 4 Tips to Launch Your Nonprofit’s Campaign : Successful Nonprofits

Digital Advocacy: 4 Tips to Launch Your Nonprofit’s Campaign

By Russ Oster, CEO of Grassroots Unwired

by Ro

Digital Advocacy: 4 Tips to Launch Your Nonprofit’s Campaign

By Russ Oster, CEO of Grassroots Unwired

by Ro

by Ro

Running your nonprofit’s programs and fundraising efforts often make up the majority of your day-to-day work.

However, there are other activities that your organization can use to strategically further your mission, such as launching advocacy campaigns.

Nonprofit advocacy typically involves an organization like yours speaking up on behalf of a cause that’s relevant to your mission and community with the goal of creating lasting change. While full-fledged advocacy campaigns often have many moving parts, many organizations start their advocacy journey by engaging supporters through digital outreach.

In this guide, we’ll share four tips to help your nonprofit get started with digital advocacy and make your campaign a success. Here’s what we’ll cover:

          1. Set Concrete Campaign Goals

          2. Leverage Social Media

          3. Invest in Specialized Advocacy Software

          4. Combine Your Advocacy and Online Fundraising Efforts

Once your organization’s digital advocacy campaign gains traction, it will set you up to take your efforts offline as well. Always make sure your online and offline advocacy work align to present a consistent front to supporters and improve your chances of effecting real change. Let’s dive in!

1. Set Concrete Campaign Goals

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” This concept applies to your nonprofit’s advocacy campaigns — before you get into the details of your strategy, set a goal based on what you’d like to accomplish through your nonprofit’s digital advocacy efforts.

The most effective goals will follow the SMART model, meaning that they’re:

                      • Specific
                      • Measurable
                      • Attainable
                      • Relevant
                      • Time-bound

For instance, your goal could be to “acquire 30 new advocates for our cause via social media and email outreach over the next three months.” This goal contains specific methodology, a metric, and a set time frame, plus it’s relevant to the overall purpose of community advocacy.

To determine whether your goal is attainable, analyze engagement data from your past social media and email marketing efforts. Using this data, decide if it would be feasible to convert 30 individuals in three months or if you should adjust your expectations. While a goal that is too far out of reach may be demotivating, one with the right level of ambition can encourage your team to work harder and make a big push to advance your cause.

2. Leverage Social Media 

Sending out email blasts and creating website content can be effective to raise awareness of your cause, but social media has a distinct advantage over other digital channels when it comes to engaging supporters. Social media not only allows for two-way communication between your organization and followers, but it also provides a space for supporters to connect with each other around a common cause.

To make your social media outreach as effective as possible, try these strategies:

                      • Tailor your posts to each platform. Feathr’s guide to social media for nonprofits explains that each social media site your nonprofit might use is best suited for different types of content, so make sure to plan your posts accordingly. For example, you might tweet a quick cause-related update, draft a longer explanatory post for Facebook, and then develop that post into a short video for Instagram and TikTok.
                      • Make all actions shareable. When your social media followers share your photos, educational links, online petitions, and other advocacy-related content, they spread awareness about your cause to their own networks. Make sure everything you post can easily be shared to reach the largest audience possible.
                      • Create a campaign-specific hashtag. Use the hashtag for all advocacy content you post and encourage your followers to add the hashtag to any posts they create about their involvement in your campaign. This way, you and your supporters can easily view all of these posts in one place.

Besides sharing cause-related updates and online petitions, you can also quickly and easily advertise offline advocacy efforts such as upcoming events and canvassing opportunities using social media. If you’re working to enact legislative change, encourage supporters to message their representatives directly through Twitter or Facebook. By leveraging various social media platforms to engage supporters, you’ll create multiple touchpoints for them to learn about your cause and take action.

3. Invest in Specialized Advocacy Software

If your organization is planning to make digital advocacy a regular part of your efforts to further your mission, specialized software can streamline your campaigns. Advocacy software can help you capture online petition signatures, develop email templates for advocates to send to policymakers, track supporter survey results, and more.

According to this Grassroots Unwired post, nonprofits should prioritize the following features when evaluating advocacy software:

                      • Contact information management that allows you to create and organize records for supporters and automatically get in touch with them.
                      • Data collection and tracking that provides a unified reporting system to help you evaluate which aspects of your campaign are effective and where you could improve.
                      • Secure donation processing so supporters who want to contribute to your cause can do so immediately after they interact with your advocacy materials.
                      • Virtual and in-person communication options to control your online and face-to-face advocacy efforts from one system.
                      • Offline capabilities so you don’t lose key data if your staff or volunteers’ internet connection drops.

It’s also helpful if your advocacy software integrates with your nonprofit’s constituent relationship management (CRM) system. This way, all relevant data collected through your advocacy platform can immediately be added to your supporter profiles for future reference.

4. Combine Your Advocacy and Online Fundraising Efforts

You can increase awareness for your cause and raise funds for it at the same time by combining your digital advocacy and online fundraising efforts. There are several ways you can leverage your advocates’ support to bring in revenue for your cause, including:

                      • Linking to your online donation form as a call to action at the end of email blasts or educational posts about your cause.
                      • Hosting a remote fundraising event, such as an online silent auction or virtual gala, to engage a wider breadth of supporters. 
                      • Launching a peer-to-peer fundraiser where supporters reach out to their family and friends to collect donations.
                      • Starting a crowdfunding campaign, which allows you to collect a large number of small donations over a short period of time.
                      • Setting up an online store to sell your organization’s branded merchandise, such as t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, and stickers.

These fundraising methods work particularly well in combination with digital advocacy because your nonprofit and your supporters can share all of them on social media. Then, when a supporter sees one of your posts and feels motivated to share it, they may also want to make a bigger difference by donating, volunteering, attending an event, or signing a petition. Encouraging supporters to share your content helps you expand your campaign’s reach, increase awareness about your cause, and raise funds all at the same time!

Whether you ask your supporters to sign online petitions, contact policymakers, contribute to fundraisers, or simply share relevant social media posts, digital advocacy is a great way for your nonprofit to start calling for change in your community. Once your virtual campaign is up and running, use its momentum to take your advocacy efforts offline and bring your community together around your cause.

Additionally, check out the following Successful Nonprofits® resources if this post was helpful:

Blog: 10 Tips That Are Guaranteed to Make Your Swag Stand Out

Podcast: Create Lasting Change Through Advocacy with Tanya Tassi

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