How Advocacy Can Benefit Your Nonprofit: 4 Key Arguments
Advocacy campaigns are an undeniable force for change, empowering concerned individuals to come together and make a difference. However, some nonprofits hesitate to get involved with advocacy campaigns. Some fear risking their nonprofit status, while others aren’t sure if an advocacy initiative will be worth the investment.
Fortunately, unless your nonprofit spends an excessive amount of your funding on advocacy, running an advocacy campaign will not put your 501(c)3 status at risk. Plus, advocacy campaigns have the potential to advance your nonprofit’s mission and engage your donors, among other benefits.
If your nonprofit is on the fence about starting an advocacy campaign, take the time to research advocacy examples in your field, as well as the many positives nonprofit advocacy can bring your organization, including:
All outreach methods require an investment of time and resources, and advocacy campaigns are no exception. However, the right tools can help your team stay organized and will continue to be useful as both your nonprofit and your advocacy efforts grow. With scalable software solutions and best practices, your nonprofit can experience all of the benefits discussed in this article. Let’s get started.
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1. Give Supporters A New Way To Get Involved
Building and maintaining strong donor relationships requires giving your supporters many opportunities to get involved. If your only outreach messages are donation requests, your supporters may start to feel like ATMs and have less of a personal connection to your nonprofit.
By launching an advocacy campaign, you can give donors a new way to engage with and support your cause.
While advocacy campaigns usually require donations, your nonprofit’s current supporter base can join as advocates rather than donors. In this role, they’re welcome to make additional donations but are also invited to engage with your nonprofit’s mission on a deeper level by:
- Learning more about your cause: While sharing educational information about your cause, you can invite supporters who join your advocacy initiative to learn even more, especially for awareness campaigns. Consider setting up a new email message cadence,specifically for supporters who are part of your campaign,and sharing information about your specific advocacy goals and intended impact.
- Writing to their elected officials: The most successful advocacy campaigns encourage volunteers to share their personal stories and views with their representatives. You can help connect your supporters to their elected officials with your advocacy software, then give them a space to express themselves on the issues that matter to them. Also, consider providing them with message templates to give them a starting point.
- Attending advocacy events:Your advocacy events’ activities can vary wildly depending on your campaign’s goals. For instance, you might decide to plan a public demonstration such as a rally as part of your advocacy campaign or coordinate an online watch party in the lead up to a vote on a target piece of legislation. These and other advocacy activities can be a unique departure from your usual fundraising events, generating interest among both your new and existing supporters.
The more opportunities your nonprofit provides for supporters to get involved, the more likely they are to discover something that fits their interests and act on one of your calls to action. Additionally, supporters who continue to attend your regular fundraising events will get to see multiple sides of your nonprofit, helping form an even deeper personal connection.
2. Advance Your Mission
Your advocacy campaign will obviously focus on issues related to your nonprofit’s mission, which means that a successful campaign has the chance to forward your nonprofit’s work. For example, by running an advocacy campaign, your nonprofit will have the opportunity to:
- Spread awareness: While many advocacy campaigns focus on legislation, others aim to educate their communities and spread awareness on issues that may not be receiving enough attention. These campaigns will also help generate more support for your nonprofit overall by attracting public interest to the issues you’re already targeting.
- Track relevant bills: Some nonprofits’ causes can benefit from influencing specific legislation. For example, a marine environmental protection group would likely be interested in a bill concerning overfishing and could launch a campaign around it. Muster’s guide to nonprofit advocacy explains how nonprofits can even use bill tracking software to, “follow the legislative journey of bills that are of interest to them.” Then, you can keep your supporters updated on key moments in that legislative journey as your campaign progresses.
- Partner with advocacy groups: For many nonprofits, there are likely already advocacy groups or organizations with advocacy initiatives that overlap with your interests. In these cases, you can partner with them to share resources and promote each other’s causes. In some cases, you might even be able to attract other advocacy group’s volunteers into becoming your nonprofit’s supporters, as well.
By running an advocacy campaign, your nonprofit will advance your mission on multiple fronts. This can open up even more opportunities for programs and initiatives to fulfill your mission and help your nonprofit make new connections in your core issues’ field.
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Use this template to write a mission statement that keeps your team aligned and motivates your supporters to commit to your nonprofit’s cause.
3. Connect With Your Community
As mentioned, grassroots campaigns are formed when groups of concerned individuals come together over a common cause. Communities usually have shared interests about specific concerns facing many of their members or the group as a whole, making them fertile grounds for grassroots organizations to emerge.
This means there might already be nearby advocacy groups operating in your nonprofit’s area that you can work alongside. In some cases, you may be able to focus on supporting their efforts rather than launching a new initiative. In others, your nonprofit might have a goal that diverges from local advocacy groups, making a new campaign necessary.
In both situations, learning more about local movements will not only help guide your nonprofit in how to proceed with your campaign but also allow you to make new connections in your community.
4. Attract New Supporters
Your nonprofit’s advocacy campaign isn’t only a new opportunity for your current supporters. You can also use it as a way to attract new supporters who might have a greater interest in advocacy. After all, different people are interested in supporting their favorite causes in different ways, and an advocacy campaign gives your nonprofit more options to connect with them.
During your advocacy campaign, you can attract new supporters to your cause by:
- Creating a compelling campaign mission: Your campaign’s mission should help fulfill your nonprofit’s overall goal, but it will differ slightly from your organization’s overall mission statement. Make your campaign goal specific, and use your marketing materials to illustrate to potential supporters what your goal will accomplish and how they can be a part of it.
- Advocating online. Digital advocacy has risen in popularity over the past few years. Traditional advocacy methods, such as canvassing, can put you in touch with your community members, who might be interested in your campaign but are likely already aware of your nonprofit. With digital advocacy, you can reach a much larger potential audience and provide them with easy tools to begin advocating on your behalf, such as using their social media presence to help spread awareness.
- Building new supporter segments. Once you begin recruiting new supporters for your advocacy campaign, use your messaging and advocacy software to create unique segments dedicated to them. This will allow you to send them tailored messages that fit their unique interests in advocacy and provide campaign updates.
While some nonprofits may be interested in running only one advocacy campaign, the most successful advocacy groups run multiple campaigns, creating a sustained base of supporters. If your nonprofit is interested in creating a full-scale advocacy initiative, consider how you’ll build your communication strategy to draw in attention and sustain it during lulls between campaigns. You might even use periods of slower activity to interest your new advocacy supporters in the rest of your nonprofit’s activities.
A nonprofit advocacy campaign requires devoted resources and work, but the return on investment of a successful campaign effort is more than worth it. A well-organized campaign can strengthen your ties with your current supporter base and attract new supporters to your cause, all while advancing your mission.
About the author:
Corey Vaughn, Chief Marketing Officer, Muster
Corey Vaughn is Chief Marketing Officer at Muster, where he has spent the last five years driving growth through lead generation, content creation, and product education. He also works closely with nonprofits to help improve and scale their advocacy efforts through digital campaigns. Connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest in nonprofit advocacy.