Five 2018 Political Campaign Trends that Nonprofits Should Use Too

October 18, 2018  |  EveryAction Team

As the 2018 midterm elections near, it’s likely hard to ignore the ads, phone calls, mail pieces, and emails from political campaigns in your area reminding you to vote. Although the election-year onslaught of political marketing can sometimes seem excessive, in many ways it is extremely effective and offers a unique example for nonprofits to follow. As the campaign season kicks into high gear, here are a few trends we’re seeing in 2018 campaigns that nonprofits could benefit from as well!

1. Relational organizing

These days you’ll hear a lot of talk in the political world about “relational organizing"—the idea that people are more likely to be persuaded to take action by someone that they know and trust than by a stranger affiliated with the campaign. The relational organizing approach entails mobilizing a campaign’s supporters to contact their friends and family, asking them to volunteer, vote, or donate.

Nonprofits can utilize this approach in many ways. One of the easiest ways to quickly implement it is peer-to-peer fundraising. For new donors, hearing about your organization from a trusted member of their community can be a powerful motivator for getting involved. This same principle also applies to inviting new supporters to events, recruiting new volunteers, and even joining your email list. No matter what your objective, take this campaign principle and whatever your task is, determine how you can leverage your supporters’ relationships to build your base.

2. Video storytelling

If you own a TV, you’re no stranger to election-related advertisements. You’ll also see video ads on social media and video streaming services. As American video content consumption continues to rise, there is an increased focus on using video to tell emotionally impactful stories that draw viewers in and personalize the message. This type of video isn’t just for political candidates; in fact, more and more nonprofits are effectively using video to tell their stories, and the stories of their supporters. Video content is prioritized on Facebook, meaning using video is a great way to increase your social media engagement as well as building a meaningful connection with viewers.

3. Texting

Texting is on the rise in the political campaign world, and though it hasn’t replaced older forms of mass-communication like phone calling and email, its quick growth over the past few years signals changes that nonprofits should pay attention to. Particularly for organizations attempting to build rapport with younger supporters, texting provides a mode of communication that won’t get buried in an inbox or sent to voicemail. Although the full uses of text messaging are still being tested, it has proven especially effective at mobilizing people to take action. Try texting when you’re next recruiting volunteers or inviting members to an event!

4. Peer pressure

A commonly used tactic in political campaigns and school playgrounds, this technique (alternately referred to as “social pressure”) harnesses a supporter’s desire to fit in with their community. Political marketing messages often include language that lets voters know that “many of their neighbors” are voters, and similar messages can be easily adapted for nonprofit use. One of the most simple ways to do this is when asking for donations, either through your website or personal conversations. Cues like “Many people are opting to multiply their impact by becoming monthly sustainers” use this same principle to maximize your fundraising effectiveness.

5. Personal touches

As technology continues to advance and improve the efficiency of running a campaign, an age-old strategy has been making a reappearance this year. Handwritten notes are increasingly being used to provide a personal touch that catches a supporter's eye. Whether they're thank you notes, invitations to an event, donation renewal reminders, or something else, a personal note ads a special touch guaranteed to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression with your supporters. Taking a little extra time to add a personal touch can make all the difference, for political campaigns and nonprofits alike. 

These five trends are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to political campaign strategy trends that nonprofits should be adopting to stay at the top of the game. For more insights on running civic engagement campaigns as a nonprofit, download our complete guide!