Digital Must-Haves for Fall Fundraising Success Part 5: Digital Advocacy Forms
Editor’s note: this post was originally published in October 2020 and was last updated in August 2022.
It’s never too early to start planning for your nonprofit’s GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising efforts. In this 6-part blog series, we’re highlighting key digital features your organization can start implementing now to boost fundraising this fall. Last week, we went over sustainer upsell lightboxes. This week’s topic: digital advocacy forms.
What are digital advocacy forms?
Digital advocacy forms are tools used to move nonprofit supporters to take action in support of your mission—no matter where they live. Whether you’re looking to contact lawmakers, gather petition signatures, or mobilize public support using social media, you can measure and increase support for your mission by presenting your audience with a digital form across their preferred channels.
Why should nonprofits use digital advocacy forms now?
There are plenty of reasons nonprofits should incorporate digital advocacy forms into their work, but there are a few major drivers: advocacy is for everyone; non-donation asks can help you build stronger supporter relationships overall; and digital advocacy in particular creates more opportunities for engagement, regardless of geography or distance.
Advocacy is for everyone
It’s easy to see “advocacy” and think “oh, advocacy means elections—my organization doesn’t do that.” But no matter how your nonprofit is doing good in our world, there will always be ways your work and mission are affected by legislation, policies, and local and national events, which means there will always be reasons to make your voice heard.
It’s also important to note that advocacy doesn’t always mean endorsing candidates or running a political action committee—and if you’re a registered 501(c)(3), you already know your organization is prohibited by law from participating in those specific kinds of activity! As long as you’re clear on what you’re legally allowed to do, like educating supporters on issues that matter to your mission, gathering supporter signatures, or participating in non-partisan get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, you can think of advocacy as another strategy for moving your mission forward by encouraging your supporters to take action based on the values they share with you.
Building stronger supporter connections—even in economic uncertainty
There’s a part of each of your supporters that longs to become part of something bigger than themselves. It’s why they’ve invested their time, energy, and resources into working with your organization to advance the mission together. Advocacy helps your supporters feel connected to your work, and it’s an especially valuable way to build strong relationships if donating isn’t an option for them. Offering supporters the chance to advocate on your behalf reassures them that you don’t just see them as an ATM, and it helps you strengthen their emotional connection to the mission. Given the nonprofit sector’s concerns about a possible recession, advocacy and other non-monetary methods of connection can be an important strategy for stewarding your supporter connections through thick and thin.
Overcome barriers to connect with supporters
Between ongoing health crises; disasters both natural and human-caused; and, yes, the upcoming midterm elections, folks are engaged—and it’s now more important than ever for nonprofits to elevate supporter voices. In order to channel that enthusiasm, it’s important to make advocacy accessible to supporters and not leave anyone behind. One step in that journey is allowing them to easily participate from the safety of their home with digital advocacy tools.
Giving supporters the chance to advocate with you digitally also means you can remove geographic barriers and engage your fiercest advocates no matter where they live. This expansive approach to advocacy means you can also grow support for your mission as new supporters from all over invite their friends to join them. Our friends at Mobilize have already seen this network effect in action when it comes to volunteering: more than 20 percent of supporters who have taken action through Mobilize have come through a bring-a-friend feature, and almost 40 percent have taken action with the same people multiple times.
To make a long story short, if your organization has been thinking about running an advocacy campaign, now is the time to do it—and you can make the most out of your efforts by using digital forms and channels.
What are some trends around nonprofit digital advocacy?
Digital advocacy form usage on EveryAction has been on the rise. Amidst the uprisings for racial justice over the summer of 2020 and in the lead-up to the historic 2020 election, we helped the social good organizations on our platform send nearly 9 million advocacy messages to elected officials by October 2020. Even though 2021 is considered by many to be an off-year, we helped advocates send 16.7 million messages that year using our tools. Now, as we approach the 2022 midterm elections, we’ve already empowered advocates to send 9.7 million messages from January through the end of July alone, with a deliverability rate of over 95 percent—and we can’t wait to see what organizations on our platform do in the second half of this year.
What does this mean when you zoom out of the data? Supporters are more engaged than ever, and the uptick in the use of digital advocacy forms shows folks are looking for dependable and intuitive ways to channel their energy into action.
How can nonprofits make the most of their digital advocacy?
Build stronger bonds with your audiences by asking them to participate in digital advocacy actions. Here’s how the right segmentation practices, smooth digital experiences, and follow-up can help you make the most of your campaign.
Segment your advocacy asks
Whether your nonprofit is running a digital advocacy campaign with a fully-staffed team or a small shop, one evergreen best practice for nonprofit supporter engagement is segmenting your supporters—not sending each one of your contacts the same exact message. How did you acquire your supporters, and can you reference that entry point in your advocacy asks? Did they come to you as an advocate, or were they a donor first? Where do they live, and how does that connect them to the issues you’re working to address? Remind them of the ways they’ve supported you in the past, and educate your donors, volunteers, members, and other audiences about what their advocacy can help you achieve.
Ease of experience
We think a lot about ways to create smooth digital experiences for nonprofit donors, but those same principles apply for digital advocacy too! Functionalities like one-click forms can make it easier for your supporters to say yes to signing a petition or letter of support. Thanks to some of our latest updates, you can also make sure your advocacy forms are optimized for conversion by applying your organization’s branding in our new design step. Branded forms create continuity and trust among nonprofits’ biggest supporters by promoting a professional image, and now you can make consistent styling even easier for you and your team. Your forms should also be optimized for mobile, so you can share your cause across channels like email and mobile messaging to engage as many supporters as possible without skipping a beat. And, lastly, the information you collect with your advocacy forms should feed into your unified or highly-integrated CRM in order to tailor the messages you send your advocates in the future.
Say thank you and stay connected
When it comes to nurturing connections with new digital advocates, timing is everything—but thanking, welcoming, and stewarding new advocates shouldn’t require more manual work. Once advocates fill out your digital form, you can instantly direct them to a thank you page, which is another opportunity to prompt them to take another step in support of your mission by making a gift or sharing your cause with a friend.
Once you’ve thanked your advocates for taking action with you, your next priority is to welcome any newcomers to your community, and many nonprofits do this with an automated email series. Our friends at Rubenstein Impact Group earlier this year conducted their first study on advocacy welcome email series—check out their recommendations on messaging, timing, and more!
If we can leave you with just a few findings, it’s these: digital advocacy opens up new opportunities to engage your supporters, no matter the economic climate or geographic distance. The right tools, like digital advocacy forms, can give your supporters a positive experience and set them on the path for retention. And, from a big-picture perspective, your mission is too important to leave advocacy off the table as a method for creating social impact.
EveryAction’s advocacy forms were built to increase conversion rates and help nonprofits mobilize supporters, engage decision makers, and to help create social change. If you’re ready to take your advocacy efforts to the next level, get a demo of EveryAction today.