It’s no surprise that your nonprofit’s founders and staff members will campaign for your cause. But what could happen if your supporters also started to campaign for you?
An advocacy campaign is when your community spreads the word about a cause for you. Advocacy campaigns can help you connect with your community and create impact at a local level, but to get started, you’ll need to put in extra effort to engage your supporters. We’ll look at five tips for engaging them in an advocacy campaign:
- Develop a Digital Communication Strategy
- Host Awareness and Fundraising Events
- Leverage Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
- Focus on the Volunteer Experience
- Send Personalized Thank-You Messages
It’s often best to start advocating in your local community, but know that your advocacy campaign might expand to state and national levels. You’ll need to create a strategy for your nonprofit that includes several types of donor engagement and expands as your outreach grows. Either way, there are plenty of ways to involve supporters in advocacy, especially through technology and digital tools.
Your campaign is more likely to succeed when advocates in your community are consistently engaged from start to finish. Let’s begin!
1. Develop a Digital Communication Strategy
Advocacy often starts in the digital space, because online communication allows for instant conversations and broad outreach. Digital platforms not only make it easier to talk to people, but also allow your organization to reach potential supporters you wouldn’t have been able to meet face-to-face. When engaging supporters digitally, consider using these tools:
- Your website
- Social media
- Online petitions
Since each of these platforms would engage your supporters in different ways, try to make them point to each other. For example, you might link to your website in an email newsletter. This way, supporters could subscribe to your email list for frequent updates but be redirected to your website for more in-depth information about your nonprofit.
You should also incorporate storytelling as you communicate through these channels to get audiences to connect with your cause and see why advocating for it matters. This doesn’t just have to be the backstory of your nonprofit—tell the story of a person whose life changed because of your work. For example, you could tell the story of someone directly impacted by your work or a volunteer who benefited by being a part of your organization.
2. Host Awareness and Fundraising Events
Digital tools are great for direct messaging, but participating in an event provides a memorable experience. Events have the power to bring your community together and create a sense of togetherness when people gather in support of your cause.
Use events to raise money and spread awareness about the importance of your work. Here are some event ideas you might try:
- Rally: A rally could help grow your outreach, especially if existing supporters bring their friends.
- Lecture, webinar, or panel: These options are great for giving more explanation to your advocacy campaign and the purpose of your nonprofit.
- Athletic event: Host a bike-a-thon, 5K, walk-a-thon, or swim-a-thon that provides a fun activity for supporters while also raising money for your organization.
- Auction: Raise money by auctioning unique items to your supporters. This can also be an opportunity for your supporters to socialize and connect with each other.
To make your event successful, plan it thoroughly. Set specific goals for your event to measure your progress and track your success. These goals don’t have to be monetary—consider setting an awareness goal, like gaining a certain number of new donors, in addition to your fundraising goals.
3. Leverage Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Since advocacy campaigns depend on your community to spread the word about your cause, peer-to-peer fundraising can be easily incorporated to help collect donations. According to Grassroots Unwired, peer-to-peer fundraising is successful because “your volunteers create a more personalized donation experience for those who have a connection to the volunteer.” A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign could stand alone or be incorporated into an event, depending on what makes the most sense for your nonprofit.
When your most dedicated supporters reach out to their family and friends about your cause, the story of your work is paired with a supporter’s personal reasons for supporting you. They can use peer-to-peer software to create their own donation page where their loved ones can contribute directly to your organization. This personalization builds trust, which brings more supporters to your campaign.
4. Focus on the Volunteer Experience
Volunteers are essential to advocacy campaigns since your supporters are campaigning for you. Create an exceptional experience for your volunteers so they’ll enjoy being involved in your organization and want to continue to help in the future. Here are some ways you can improve their experience:
- Host appreciation events
- Offer volunteer-only activities
- Foster mentoring relationships
- Make use of volunteer grants
Your volunteers’ experiences while working with your organization can also be seen as a reflection of what your nonprofit stands for. For example, if your organization offers counseling resources, and your volunteers feel listened to while working with your organization, they’ll see your organization’s values being practiced first-hand.
5. Send Personalized Thank-You Messages
Volunteers’ experiences should be positive while they’re involved, but you should also make them feel appreciated for their work after the campaign is done. Send personalized thank-you messages to all of your supporters that are tailored to their specific level of involvement, including:
- General donors
- Event attendees
- Participants in specific campaign activities
You can use a template to get started, but add personal details like the supporter’s name and what they contributed so that the message is specific to the recipient. Fundraising Letters suggests getting specific with your thank-you letters: explain why a contribution was important and how it impacted your organization. When your supporters feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to return and will have a better relationship with your organization.
Supporter advocacy can be beneficial to your organization and its supporters. Volunteers can spread the word about your cause while also cultivating a community of supporters that work toward the same goal. These supporters do so much to further your cause, so you should prioritize engaging with them and thank them for their help.