Your supporters lead busy lives, and successfully asking for them to engage with and support your campaign can be a challenge. While many people who participate in your campaign might be more casual supporters who come and go, your advocacy group should consider methods for attracting and maintaining a dedicated supporter base to keep your organization going strong between campaigns.
Each of your supporters has their own reasons for joining your campaign, but many of them will respond well to the same engagement strategies. This is because most supporters value the same parts of joining an advocacy campaign, such as feeling like they’re making a difference, joining a community, and learning more about issues that matter to them.
To help your advocacy campaign tap into these values and build a reliable supporter base, this article will explore four engagement strategies you can start implementing almost immediately:
- Personalize outreach.
- Offer multiple ways to get involved.
- Use action centers.
- Connect with supporters between campaigns.
How you leverage these strategies will depend on your organization’s current supporter base. For example, a nonprofit advocacy campaign might focus on encouraging their current donors to consider joining their campaign, while a new grassroots group will need to focus instead on building their initial audience. Keep this in mind as you implement the following tips to personalize them to your organization’s unique needs.
1. Personalize outreach.
Each of your supporters is an individual and wants to engage with a campaign that treats them as such. This means you should avoid sending out the same boilerplate message to your entire emailing list in the hopes that it will apply to a few of your supporters. Instead, take steps to personalize your messages, such as:
- Segmenting supporters. Divide your supporters based on shared, meaningful details. For example, you might segment your supporters based on when they joined your campaign. Then, you could create a unique email stream for your new supporters dedicated to welcoming them to your campaign and providing information about engagement opportunities without flooding your long-term supporters with information they already know.
- Adding personal details. Addressing your messages with “Dear valued supporter” is likely to make your supporters not feel very valued. Instead, ensure each message is addressed to its recipient. You can also go a step further and add additional details, such as referencing a supporter’s specific contributions or past engagement opportunities they participated in.
- Contacting supporters on their preferred communication channel. Give supporters the option to share their preferred communication platform. For example, when a supporter signs up to volunteer, you might add an option to your form asking if they would prefer to be contacted through text, email, or both.
Your advocacy software and volunteer management tools should help you gather and keep track of this information. Create profiles for each of your supporters, so you can record all relevant details about their engagement in one centralized place.
2. Offer multiple ways to get involved.
Each of your supporters has different resources they can contribute, whether it’s monetary donations or times when they’re available to volunteer. Ensure you give all of your supporters a chance to get involved by providing them with multiple ways to engage with your campaign.
Some supporters will choose just one option, but others might decide to take advantage of multiple engagement opportunities, helping to advance your cause even further. Reach out to your supporters about the various ways they can get involved, such as:
- Volunteering. Recruiting volunteers can be a challenge, from coordinating schedules to finding individuals with specific skills sets. Whenever you have a new volunteer opportunity available, be sure to include a detailed description of the position, any required or preferred skills, and a brief explanation about how the role will help your campaign.
- Donating. Monetary donations provide your campaign with the funding it needs to keep operating. Make donating as easy as possible by adding brightly colored donation buttons to your website and streamlining the donation process. Only ask for necessary information, such as supporters’ names and payment details, to allow them to fill out the donation form quickly and easily.
- Sharing messages. Sometimes, just hitting share on one of your posts can make a difference. Whenever you post on social media, create a new article on your blog, or send out an email promoting your campaign, encourage your supporters to share it. Actively promoting your campaign can also be considered another form of volunteering and help gain even more support as your volunteers’ friends and family will be more inclined to engage with their loved ones’ posts.
When creating engagement opportunities, be sure to reach out to supporters for feedback about how you can improve. For example, after a volunteer finishes their last shift for your campaign, send them a survey asking about the experience to identify what parts of the program were engaging and effective and what should be changed for next time.
3. Use action centers.
Use your advocacy software to create action centers on your website. These action centers are designed to help supporters take action immediately by providing them with a variety of resources, such as information on your campaign, forms they can fill out to get in touch with their representatives, and elected official directories.
You can make your action centers even more powerful by:
- Branding them to your organization. Create a more cohesive experience by using an action center that is branded to your organization or embedded straight into your website. Add your logo, specific details about your campaign, and adjust your action forms to include the information fields you need.
- Adding customizable message templates. The most effective messages your supporters can send are ones that tell their unique stories. However, your supporters will likely also appreciate being given a clear place to start with a message template. Invite your supporters to fill in specific sections with their personal information or use it to help brainstorm what they should say before completely rewriting it.
- Helping supporters find their representatives. Not all of your supporters will know which of their representatives to contact or who their representatives are. Pair your action center with a searchable database that allows supporters to identify their elected officials quickly and accurately.
Just like your donation form, make your action centers as visible as possible on your website. Include a link to your action center on your homepage, link to it when possible in social media posts, and encourage your supporters to share links to it as well.
4. Connect with supporters between campaigns.
Support can lull between campaigns, so make sure to stay in touch with your supporters to keep your connections with them alive. After all, it’s much easier to retain the current supporters you have from one campaign to the next than to build up an entirely new supporter base each time.
Even while you might not be actively campaigning, you should still reach out to supporters to show them that your organization is active. Here are a few things you can do to keep your supporters engaged:
- Post regularly on social media. Maintaining an active social media presence is now essential for showing supporters that your organization is still going strong. Create a posting schedule to ensure you are continually engaging with supporters, even when you don’t have an ongoing campaign.
- Send update emails. Keep up your regular email cadence to keep supporters informed about your advocacy group’s focus issues, developments at your organization, and any other relevant information. If your advocacy campaign is just one part of your organization, you might use these email updates as an opportunity to boost your advocacy-focused supporters’ interest in other aspects of your organization. For example, a nonprofit might discuss new program initiatives or an upcoming fundraising event.
- Update your website. If a supporter visits your website between campaigns and only sees information about your last campaign, they might assume your advocacy group is no longer operating or still focused on that campaign. Regularly refresh your website to provide updates on each campaign, including when one wraps up and what your next steps will be.
Maintaining momentum is key, especially for digital and social media-based advocacy campaigns. Keeping your supporters informed about key topics related to your campaign will help maintain their investment in your overall cause and ensure they’re ready to rejoin your next campaign when it launches.
Engaged supporters fuel your campaign’s success when they donate, volunteer, or act on your calls-to-action. Be sure to stay in touch with your supporters and treat them like individuals to help them form a personal connection with your cause, and consider all the ways your advocacy software can help you leverage these connections.