4 Types of Resources to Use in a Nonprofit Advocacy Campaign

4 Types of Resources to Use in a Nonprofit Advocacy Campaign

Picture this: Your local lawmaker is slated to vote on an issue. The vote relates directly to your nonprofit’s cause. And you and your supporters want your voices heard. 

If you’re in this position, an advocacy campaign is just the thing for you! 

But maybe you’re new to the idea of an advocacy campaign or just need a refresher. 

Put simply, an advocacy campaign is focused on one overarching goal—to inspire political change through awareness raising and targeted communication to decision-makers who you want to care about your cause. This push for change can be aimed at the local, state, or national level.

And each advocacy campaign looks different. You could advocate for what you believe in in any number of ways, including: 

  • Organizing a protest or rally
  • Gathering signatures on a petition 
  • Calling or emailing your community’s lawmakers
  • Sharing your position on social media

Since most nonprofits generally don’t have a specialized lobbyist working to get the attention of lawmakers for them, advocacy campaigns can be a large undertaking. Most of the time, campaigns will need to be fueled by a large support base, a dedicated leadership team, and the right tools for the job.

One crucial part of that advocacy campaign plan is marketing. You’re going to want to spread your message as far as you can, because you’ll need a lot of people behind you. And when you get enough people coming together for your cause, you really can make a difference in the political sphere. 

Now, marketing an advocacy campaign can be tough, but using the right resources can make the process easier. In this article, we’ll walk you through four software resources we recommend for publicizing your advocacy campaign: 

  1. Direct mail platform
  2. Advocacy app
  3. Nonprofit website
  4. Social media 

With the right tools working for you and a thoroughly planned campaign, you’ll be able to find the people who want to help you share your cause with the world and see action taken. Plus, you’ll have plenty more time to focus on planning other aspects of your campaign. Let’s go!

1. Direct Mail Platform

A direct mail solicitation is a piece of mail you send to a potential supporter, asking them to take action. That action could be just about anything, such as donating or volunteering or following your nonprofit on social media. When targeted to the right audiences, direct mail is an extremely effective way for nonprofits to garner support for an advocacy campaign. 

That might seem a bit counterintuitive, particularly when we know that much of what nonprofits do is increasingly moving online. So why does direct mail work? 

According to GivingMail, direct mail continues to be the largest source of donations in the U.S. That’s because these days, physical mail is unique. When you get a piece of mail, you have to physically touch it. Plus, people are usually excited to receive mail that deals with something they care about–especially when mail is normally just bills or dental appointment reminders. 

Direct mail allows you to remind your supporters that you’re still actively working for the cause you both care about. It also gives you a chance to update your supporters about events and donation opportunities in addition to giving updates online. It can even serve as another avenue for you to direct your supporters’ attention to your online space, including your website and social media. 

In other words, using direct mail is a great way to get your supporters’ attention when you need their help in advocating for something. 

When using direct mail, remember this number one ruleto keep it simple. You want your letter, brochure, or mailer to catch your supporter’s eye and keep their attention while they read. 

Also state the goal of your advocacy campaign and be crystal clear about exactly what you’re asking your readers to do. Unclear purposes can just end up confusing readers, making your mailers less effective, and ultimately wasting time and money. This clear statement of purpose is also called a call-to-action (CTA). 

2. Advocacy App

Direct mail is an excellent tool, but we can’t overlook the value of taking a multichannel approach to marketing your advocacy campaign. That will absolutely include making your efforts mobile-friendly. You have to meet your supporters where they are a lot of the timetheir phones

That’s why you’ll want an advocacy app for your next campaign. An advocacy app is a mobile app that lets you connect your supporters with all of the information and opportunities specific to your campaign. 

With an accessible and centralized location for your supporters to turn to, they can receive real-time updates about the campaign, including information about volunteer opportunities and events. This ease-of-use is essential for driving engagement in the digital age, making a dedicated mobile app for your campaign or organization a worthwhile investment in many cases. 

You can also use an app with specific advocacy functions, which can help you complete tasks such as: 

  • Canvassing 
  • Collecting signatures
  • Collecting and tracking donations 
  • Emailing legislators 
  • Volunteer check-in and registration
  • Collecting supporter contact information
  • Surveying

When looking for an advocacy app, be sure to identify your needs. What stressors do you want your app to eliminate? What do you want supporters to be able to do with your app? What features would be most beneficial to your campaign? Make sure to research your options and to get in touch with your top picks to ensure you’re going to get what you want out of your chosen app. 

3. Nonprofit Website 

As always, you’re going to want a website for your nonprofit. If you don’t have one already, you’ll see that it makes a huge difference in how you do work for your cause, especially when it comes to advocacy work. 

You can think of your website as a central hallway that provides doorways to every other resource a supporter might want or need to access, including information about your advocacy app, social media feeds, and sign-up sheet for your mailing list. 

As a central hub for advocacy information, the website should have campaign-specific pages providing access to every bit of information a supporter needs to know. That includes a clear statement of the position your organization has chosen to take on the political issue specific to your cause. And, of course, information on what the visitor can do to engage in the campaign and start inspiring change in their circle of influence. 

You might also consider creating a dedicated campaign microsite. A microsite is connected to but separate from your main website and can house all the digital elements of your specific advocacy campaign. A dedicated microsite can give you the opportunity to create content that focuses more on your specific campaign’s target audience. 

4. Social Media 

Social media is an increasingly important part of your nonprofit’s digital strategy. Utilizing social media in your advocacy campaign will help you build a community of supporters that will last beyond the one campaign. (And many platforms can also help you find younger supporters, since younger people tend to use social media a lot more often.) 

Social media not only helps  you connect with your supporters, but it also connects supporters with people they know who might be interested in getting involved in your mission. In other words, you can use social media to help you get access to a larger network of support—if you harness it correctly. 

There are a few different ways you might get your supporters pushing your campaign forward on their social media. Here are some fun suggestions: 

  • Share inspirational quotes on Instagram. According to Initlive, Instagram is an extremely popular platform, with an estimated 1 billion users every month. Instagram focuses on visuals, which makes it great for sharing images with little text. Share an inspiring message overlaid on a beautiful image and encourage your supporters to share it to their Instagram stories. This lets their friends see it and follow it to your profile. 
  • Tweet live campaign updates. Twitter is an ideal social media tool for posting lots of digestible updates in real time. For example, if you’re planning a rally, you might have a designated member of your team post live updates on what’s happening on the day of the event, like who is speaking or performing and what they’re saying. This is an intuitive (and shareable) way to involve people who might not be able to make it to the in-person event. 
  • Share pictures from your campaign on Facebook. Highlight your supporters on your Facebook by taking lots of photos the day of an event. Share and tag your supporters so they can pass the photo on to their friends and further increase your organization’s and cause’s visibility.

Using social media can be a fun way to get your supporters involved and excited about advocating for what they believe in. Get creative and find what works for you and your cause!

Whether you’re new to advocacy campaigns or well-seasoned in working to inspire change at the political level, it’s a good idea to refresh the resources you are using to communicate your cause before you start a new advocacy campaign. With careful planning and consideration, you can use all these resources to see the change you want in your community. Good luck with your advocacy efforts! 

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