Nonprofits use advocacy campaigns to appeal to legislators, social leaders, and business executives. Committing resources to advocacy can help organizations gain traction and make progress toward achieving their goals. Advocacy software has helped nonprofits connect with their communities to bring people together by inspiring them to be part of a movement. With the right technology and approach, your nonprofit can get the attention it deserves.
Here are six advocacy best practices to follow, and tips for how you can use software solutions to achieve your goals.
Best Practice #1: Look for advocacy opportunities within your existing supporter base.
We recommend you start marketing your advocacy campaign to your existing supporters who are likely to continue to grow their engagement with your nonprofit. It’s your way of providing them with an opportunity to get involved without putting additional strain on their wallets. It’s important to ask for donations – but if these asks become too frequent supporters may start to get fatigued or question what you’re doing with the money you’ve raised. Changing it up and asking them to give time rather than money can create that deeper connection and build trust.
Software Tip: Your donor management software already has all sorts of information about your supporters. You can leverage this information to best engage them. We recommend focusing on supporters who give regularly – they will likely be passionate about your cause and might just jump at the opportunity to help in other ways.
Best Practice #2: Amplify the voices of your supporters with online petitions.
Petitions display the power of the masses and provide the opportunity for your nonprofit to exhibit how much support you have behind your mission. The emergence of online petitions has extended the potential reach of this support because they make it easy for your supporters to sign. A side benefit is that online petitions are also easy to share. As you use this advocacy tool, make sure that your nonprofit’s marketing strategies encourage participants to share your petitions via social widgets and email.
Software Tip: There’s plenty of online petition software available for your nonprofit to choose from. Before making your final decision be sure the software solution you choose offers CRM integration, fully customized branding, mobile responsiveness, and autoresponder emails that are sent to supporters after they finish signing.
Best Practice #3: Host events to excite and engage your supporters.
Hosting advocacy events can help your supporters get more involved with your mission. Education-focused advocacy events help your nonprofit supporters better understand your cause. Stewardship events are generally used to show your supporters how much you appreciate their involvement and encourage them to become more involved. Rallies are used to accomplish an advocacy goal for your nonprofit. You could invite supporters to get together for a protest, or you could organize a call-center to contact legislators. Decide what outcome you want to get out of your advocacy event, then structure it around that goal.
Software Tip: Build event registration pages. When you plan advocacy events, be sure you have an easy way for your supporters to register to attend. A customized registration page helps you know who will be there and gives supporters a simple way to purchase tickets if you require them.
Best Practice #4: Make it easy for your supporters to call their legislators.
One of the best ways to get your message across to elected officials is to facilitate phone calls to their offices. If legislators receive enough calls about the same issue they might just pay attention to your cause. Promote these calls by providing a legislator lookup tool. This will help your supporters easily find which federal, state, and local officials to call just by entering their zip code.
Software Tip: Create a click-to-call targeted action page that makes it easy to connect. This tool facilitates the calling process and provides scripts to walk your supporters through each call. As the campaign manager, you also get access to analytics such as number of participants, number of calls, and the results of those calls. While there is a cost per call, you can budget the amount you’re willing to spend and then set a cap to make sure you stay within your nonprofit’s financial means.
Best Practice #5: Make the most of your presence on social media.
Social media is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to advocacy. In fact, it can play multiple roles in your advocacy campaign. You can use social media to connect supporters with legislators, announce advocacy opportunities, share targeted actions, and enable supporters to share their hard work with their digital networks.
Software Tip: Choose advocacy software with multiple social media tools so that you can maximize your use of the tool. Tweet/Facebook a Rep allows your supporters to fill out the targeted action form quickly and easily. And targeted action sharing gives participants the option to share their support on their own social media profiles. This gets your message out to their networks in addition to your own.
Best Practice #6: Integrate your advocacy and fundraising efforts.
Advocacy software that is fully integrated with your fundraising software combines your outreach to both existing and new donors. A fully integrated toolset creates a holistic engagement strategy for your nonprofit’s supporters. Start by reaching out to your donors to get involved with your advocacy campaign. Then, reach out to your advocacy supporters to become donors. Embrace the donor data insights that you gather during your advocacy and fundraising campaigns to strengthen your relationships with all of your supporters.
Software Tip: Keep accurate records of donors who also participate in advocacy efforts. Knowing who participates in your fundraising campaigns and in your advocacy campaigns means you can encourage advocates to become donors and vice versa. Plus, those who are involved in both are generally highly engaged, motivated individuals who might make good major gift prospects.
With any campaign, it’s important to identify your goals and target audiences, and then put the strategies into action that sync best with both. As you see what works and what doesn’t, you can double down on successful approaches, and continue to test new ones. Along the way you can make the most out of your nonprofit’s next advocacy campaign by using your software solutions to their fullest capabilities and by implementing some (or all!) of the best practices highlighted here.
Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard‘s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices. For more information about how to use this software to its fullest potential, check out Salsa’s donor software guide.