Nonprofits like yours represent the public’s perspective—if enough people support and back up your organization’s views, then key decision-makers will notice. This is where nonprofit advocacy comes in.
In fact, an important tool to bring your advocacy efforts to the next level is your nonprofit website.
This guide will walk through the basics of advocacy for nonprofits and how your own website can support your passions. Let’s begin.
Advocacy allows nonprofits to bring awareness to the issues they care about. The issue at hand can relate to their core mission or not, but in many cases, the changes that advocates push for likely will affect the community that they serve.
Along with simply bringing awareness, nonprofit advocacy involves encouraging supporters and other community members to take action. Your organization has a unique but fundamental role in organizing and educating your audience for civic action and engagement.
These days, modern advocacy thrives online. Salsa Labs specifically states that “Online advocacy employs the capabilities of the Internet and its interconnectedness to drive change. Your supporters are online, so you have to be online. It’s as simple as that.”
If you want to be a good advocate and position your nonprofit organization as a leader for positive change, taking your efforts online and to your own website is key. But in order to make your website a tool for advocacy, you need relevant content that provides genuine value and an intuitive easy-to-navigate design. Continue reading to explore our 8 tips.
Nonprofits across the board use advocacy campaigns to draw attention to their mission, take action on key issues, and impact real change for their community. These actions will likely involve contacting legislators, CEOs of top companies, and other decision-makers.
The nonprofit advocacy strategies you implement can vary. But no matter the cause and the actions you plan to take, your website will play a pivotal role. Not only is it the virtual face of your organization and its priorities, but it can serve as a resource for those who want to learn more about what you’re advocating for. Here are some of our favorite ways websites support advocacy:
Let’s imagine the donor journey. A potential supporter learns about your organization and mission and heads on over to your website to find out more. As soon as they enter your site, they should have easy access to all important resources. This should include all of the content related to your advocacy efforts.
If your organization takes a strong stance on an issue, it’s crucial that your website has an easily navigable menu with links to top pages that are dedicated to:
Since you’re a nonprofit organization, your audience is going to look at you as a thought leader. If your organization is already philanthropically inclined, it makes sense that users trust your content and will look to you if they have questions. Make sure you can provide them with the right answers through the pages mentioned above.
If your organization is a true advocate for a cause, you’ll likely participate in and host a number of events that inspire supporters to take action. This can range from peer-to-peer events, click-to-call events, text banking, and more.
Advocacy events are influential and long-lasting. Their effectiveness is due to both your supporters’ passionate actions as well as the publicity and awareness raised when this type of event is marketed and conducted.
To ensure that potential supporters and advocates are aware of all of these opportunities, you need a dedicated space on your website to showcase all upcoming advocacy events. Embed an interactive calendar that users can click through to explore what’s available and sign up to participate themselves.
Some nonprofit organizations also host and facilitate membership programs. This is usually for your larger stakeholders and more passionate supporters and allows them to play a larger role in your management and campaign planning. Being a member often also involves paying a membership fee in order to reap the benefits.
If your nonprofit wants to expand its advocacy efforts, you might want to instill a dedicated membership program for it. This allows your most inspired and willing supporters to take a more active role with your organization’s advocacy.
Make sure your website clearly advertises your membership program. This includes creating a dedicated page for it, integrating an online membership registration process, and even perhaps providing a member portal for further engagement.
Some of the best advocacy efforts happen on social media. In fact, social media is one of the most influential mediums that you can host your advocacy campaigns. This is because social networks can easily spread the word about key issues and expand your reach exponentially. One supporter will tell all of their friends and families, and each of those people will tell their friends and family, and so on.
For your website to support your social media advocacy campaign, you need to clearly advertise and display all of your social media connections. These can simply be icon buttons that send users to the relevant account.
You might even embed a social feed into your website with a real-time log of what your accounts are posting. This way, supporters can easily start engaging with your advocacy efforts and click through to connect further on all platforms right away.
If you want to position your nonprofit as a leading advocate, you might want to create your own content regarding it. Blog content is a key method to add educational resources to your nonprofit website. Many organizations write blog posts to update their supporters on recent accomplishments or just to educate them on industry standards that might affect their mission.
Start writing blog posts on the topics and issues that your organization is advocating for. This can include:
The issues that we advocate for are constantly evolving and changing, hopefully for the better. To ensure that your website provides up-to-date information, It’s a good idea to get in the habit of writing blog post content on a regular basis.
These days, modern audiences are warier than ever of corporations and big businesses. It’s important that no matter what, you are transparent with all the choices your nonprofit makes, especially when it comes to your advocacy efforts.
For example, if you’re advocating for environmental issues but also are corporate partners with a top oil firm, people will be suspicious and start distrusting you if that information is hidden and suddenly unveiled.
Being honest about your organization’s choices, funding, partnerships, and more will show your audience that you do genuinely care about the issue at hand as well as the community it impacts. Don’t let your nonprofit risk its high-standing reputation and make sure that transparency is a top priority.
Your nonprofit’s advocacy efforts are not just about bringing awareness to an issue. You also need to be a catalyst for change.
To ensure your website supports this task, your users and audience need to know how they can take action. Incorporate calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout your website that encourage visitors to the target task. These tasks can range from:
These CTAs can be prominent links throughout your resources and educational blog posts, as well as large buttons displayed on your advocacy page and website homepage.
Along with the above tips for your core nonprofit website, you might also consider creating a microsite. According to Kanopi’s guide to charity microsites, “Microsites are often used as a focused marketing strategy to reach a specific audience or meet a specific need.”
Microsites for advocacy are not uncommon and can help your nonprofit cultivate a more targeted audience and garner beneficial results. When creating one, you’re able to experiment with different media formats and bring focused attention to the issue that you are fighting for. Make sure that it is entirely separate from your main website, with an entirely different domain or subdomain name.
If you’re unsure of how you might approach developing a dedicated advocacy microsite for your nonprofit, the linked Kanopi resource above can provide additional guidance and key steps.
Now is the perfect time to solidify where your nonprofit organization stands when it comes to divisive issues. Taking your advocacy efforts seriously and incorporating them into your website is the best method for reaching a wide audience and inspiring action. Use the tips laid out in this article to ensure that your website (or microsite!) is a genuinely valuable tool for advocacy. Good luck!