Friday, July 10, 2020 / by Erik Bjorklund
Nonprofit advocacy campaigns are becoming increasingly popular to help advance the mission of organizations. However, many organizations are under the impression that they must divide their attention between their advocacy campaigns and their fundraising efforts. In this case, many decide to ignore advocacy altogether.
However, they don’t need to be separate entities! Nonprofit advocacy can fit into and advance your fundraising strategy. It can help your nonprofit to:
- Further your mission.
- Engage your supporters.
- Acquire new donors.
When you incorporate advocacy into a well-rounded, more strategic approach for your nonprofit, you’ll find that your fundraising improves, your volunteer network expands, and your organization is able to grow.
However, you’ll first need that well-thought-out approach as well as a system to store all of the fundraising and advocacy data collected by your nonprofit. But first, let’s dive a little deeper into how you can incorporate advocacy into your fundraising strategy.
1. Furthering your mission
Advocacy furthers your organization’s mission. There’s no doubt about that. When you have the power to influence the decision-makers in your community, you can encourage them to enact legislation or make resolutions that will positively reinforce your cause.
When you reinforce your mission and publicly support the policies that impact your cause, it provides an additional platform to discuss your organization with potential supporters. It can help open up additional conversations and networking opportunities that also support your mission.
Essentially, advocacy campaigns can further your mission, which, in turn, gives your organization additional authority. The more authority your organization has with the community, the more likely people are to support your mission.
It’s all cyclical.
Some of the people you can reach out to as a part of advocacy campaigns in order to build clout for your organization:
- Congressmen. When most people think about advocacy campaigns, they immediately think about appealing to your representatives in Congress. This is a great way to make sure your Congressman is listening to their constituents.
- Local CEOs. If local businesses are making decisions that may impact your mission, target them in your advocacy efforts. You may ask them to stop something in their policies that is actively harming your mission or to incorporate a new policy that would help. For example, you might ask that a local chemical company stop polluting a river.
- County or City Managers. Your city and local officials have the most direct influence on your organization. Therefore, contacting them about local issues is a great way to further your mission by getting governmental attention.
- State Officials. While larger than local officials, state officials aren’t quite as big-picture as your congressmen. Therefore, they’ll likely be more responsive to your campaign than federal officials while having more influence than local. It’s a perfect balance!
When you have the support of your local, federal, and private community decision-makers, your organization will appear more legitimate and authoritative for prospective donors. It’s a similar concept as seen in influencer marketing with the decision-maker as the influencer.
Therefore, when your advocacy campaigns change the perspective of an official or influence policy change, be sure to celebrate! Tell the world about your success and the support that the decision-maker provided for your organization.
2. Engaging supporters
Nonprofits have a bad habit of only reaching out to their supporters when the organization needs funding for a project or initiative. This can make your supporters feel a bit like ATMs, which is not a great feeling.
While you’re using various platforms to create your multi-channel fundraising campaigns, consider how you can also use those channels to promote your engagement strategies. These strategies should include both fundraising and activities for which your supporters never need to pull out their wallets, like advocacy campaigns.
Advocacy campaigns provide a way for your supporters to get involved with your mission without donating money.
You can use these additional engagement strategies intermittently with your fundraising asks to show supporters that you’re interested in building a relationship with them, not just emptying their pockets. This relationship-building experience will help your organization retain more donors over time.
Some of the different advocacy campaigns you might choose to host in order to boost the engagement of your supporters include:
- Advocacy events. Encourage your supporters to sign up for events that will support your cause. Don’t forget that you’re not limited to in-person events for advocacy campaigns! With the right tools, you can host virtual events for fundraising, advocacy, and stewardship.
- Click-to-call campaigns. Blow up your decision-makers’ phone lines with a click-to-call advocacy campaign. This allows your supporters to call and advocate on behalf of your mission. You can provide them a script or outline points for them to follow to be sure they hit the important bullet points on these calls.
- Online petitions. Online petitions are one of the most common forms of advocacy campaigns. It requires the least amount of time and energy from your supporters because all they need to do is sign their name! Show your representatives the extensive backing you have for your mission with a petition supported by your community.
- Targeted messaging. Encourage your supporters to send a message via online platforms to targeted decision-makers. You may choose to use platforms such as social media (like Twitter or Facebook) to publicly call them out. Or, you may use a more direct message approach like email. It’s up to you! Be sure to include a standard message, but encourage your supporters to personalize it.
Don’t forget to ensure you’re using both engagement strategies such as advocacy campaigns and your fundraising campaigns intermittently to provide multiple opportunities to support your organization.
3. Acquiring new donors
One of the great things about advocacy campaigns is that it allows your organization to reach new audiences in a low-risk way. Supporters who feel strongly about your mission, but may not be willing or able to give right now will jump at the opportunity to provide value for your cause by contributing time rather than funds.
Therefore, with the right marketing strategies, you can spread the word about this opportunity far and wide to encourage the acquisition of new support. Without the barrier of money holding back the process of acquisition, your organization will have greater access to a market of supporters who care deeply about your mission. After they’ve engaged with your organization, you can steward these individuals and turn them into donors down the line.
However, in order to make the best use of your advocacy efforts as an acquisition strategy, you’ll need access to the best advocacy software. According to this guide, the best advocacy software will have features like:
- Data licensing. Pay attention to how your advocacy software solution handles licensing. A great solution will have certain data sets already available with more unique options available a la carte.
- Outreach platforms. Look for a solution with built-in marketing tools that your organization can use to spread the word about your advocacy campaign with your supporters. For example, email tools, text capabilities, and stored phone numbers are all helpful marketing resources to look for.
- Bill-tracking. Track the progress of the legislative bill your organization has taken interest in with comprehensive bill-tracking technology. Then, report on its progress to your hard-working advocates.
- Automated reporting. You shouldn’t get frustrated or take a lot of time preparing reports to see how your campaign is doing. Rather, you should have access to an automated reporting system that sends updates and reports for you to view. This will help you make sure your advocacy campaign is effective and will help identify weaknesses to improve upon for next time.
When you’re set up with the best software solution, your nonprofit will have no trouble spreading the word about your organization’s campaign. You can tell new supporters about how they can get involved without ever spending a dime.
This can be a very tempting opportunity to make a difference for many people. Then, when they fill out their information to sign your petition, email their representative, etc., you’ll end up with a list of new individuals with a vested interest in your cause.
Advocacy is an incredibly valuable strategy for nonprofits to use for their fundraising strategies. While you rarely directly fundraise as a part of an advocacy campaign, by hosting one of these campaigns, you can indirectly strengthen various aspects of your well-rounded strategy.
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