Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

Getting started with digital advocacy: 4 tips for nonprofits

August 10, 2020
This is an image of two people using laptops to implement digital advocacy strategies.

Digital advocacy campaigns, or the process of using digital media to rally supporters for a given cause, are essential for reaching supporters and motivating them to take action.

The first step to effectively getting supporters involved in your nonprofit organization’s work advocating for your purpose is optimizing your advocacy strategy. Leveraging the right online advocacy software can help you achieve your goals—use these four essential tips to get started.

1. Inspire your supporters with memorable digital advocacy petitions

Petitions motivate your supporters to take action on a specific issue. You can use petitions to rally support for an action or to express dissatisfaction with how a decision maker (such as a governing body) is handling a relevant issue. For example, the organization Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) used petitions to successfully lobby the FDA to add sesame to food allergy labels.

Digital advocacy petitions can be shared across your supporters’ social networks more quickly than traditional petitions, while being an effective tool for engaging your supporters. In addition, sharing online petitions with your supporters can:

  • Grow your community. Online advocacy petitions can be shared across digital channels like email, social media, and your website. Not only will your petitions reach your go-to advocates, but they’ll also introduce new supporters to your cause.
  • Define your identity. Online petitions are excellent tools for telling the world about your purpose in your own words. Since these petitions are completely customizable, you can craft your petition to make a powerful impression on viewers.

To design effective o nline petitions that build successful campaigns,  maintain these best practices:

  • Include a compelling call to action in your petition’s title.
  • Keep the body of your petition succinct and clear.
  • Remind readers who your organization serves with effective and ethical visuals.
  • Feature your logo and branded color scheme to boost brand recognition.
  • Make use of your “submit” button’s real estate with action-oriented language.

To maximize your online petition’s reach, actively encourage your supporters to share the petition when they sign. 

2. Widen your digital advocacy campaign’s reach with social media tools

By promoting your advocacy campaign on social media, you can grow your community of grassroots advocacy supporters far beyond your initial support base.

To connect with existing donors and new supporters on social media, look for digital advocacy software that offers these tools:

  • Social sharing buttons that allow supporters to share your campaign instantly with their personal networks.
  • Matching tools that connect a supporter’s email address with their social media profiles.
  • Action alerts your nonprofit can share across social sites and via email to call your supporters to action.
  • Automation tools that let your team draft, publish, and schedule posts on your various social media platforms.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising tools that empower supporters to fundraise for your advocacy campaign on your behalf.

Further elevate your social advocacy efforts by asking influencers to endorse your campaign. Designating trustworthy, familiar faces as brand ambassadors to your cause can expand your audience by thousands or even millions of people.

3. Optimize your digital advocacy campaign with intelligent data

The key to smart online advocacy campaigns is knowing who your supporters are, which messages they respond to, and how you can turn that knowledge into an effective engagement strategy.

To optimize how your organization uses and collects data, use an online advocacy solution with these important capabilities:

  • Constituent profiles: Your organization’s CRM should automatically create rich constituent profiles on each of your supporters. These profiles include each donor’s contact information, a history of how they’ve interacted with your team, and a map of their relationships with other constituents.
  • Deduplication features: In case a team member tries to create a new profile for a donor already in the system, these features will prevent them from creating a duplicate profile to avoid cluttering your CRM.
  • Action insights: When supporters donate, make a pledge, or sign your advocacy petition, your software should produce action insights. These help you understand what’s going well in your digital advocacy campaign and what needs improvement.
  • Role-based access: Ensure your supporters’ privacy by restricting access so only the appropriate team members can access sensitive data, such as personal addresses and financial information.
  • Database querying: With database querying, team members can search your constituent data to learn about your campaign’s ongoing progress or who makes up your constituency. You can also set and track metrics for additional insights.

Choose your advocacy organization's constituent database software carefully. Pick a platform that lets your team capture all of the data you need to know about your community, like their interaction histories, biographical data, and networking markers. The more robust your database is, the more valuable it will be in honing your digital advocacy strategy. 

4. Leverage targeted actions in your digital advocacy campaigns

Targeted actions enable your supporters to engage with lawmakers and other important decision-makers on crucial issues. By using targeted actions, your team can motivate supporters to take actions that further your purpose and make a larger impact. 

Consider using these specific targeted action tools:

  • Targeted messaging. A targeted message allows you to create standardized messaging in line with a particular issue, bill, or comment that your organization wants supporters to make to their elected representatives. Make these messages available to your supporters, then they can email their officials without needing to do any research on their own. 
  • Social media outreach to elected officials and other stakeholders. Some of the most powerful tools in your online advocacy arsenal are social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Create targeted messages, then empower supporters to use your tools to send messages directly to their representatives’ accounts.
  • Segment your audience. Using the information stored in your donor database, segment supporters based on shared characteristics, such as engagement history and communication preferences, to tailor your outreach and increase the chances that they will engage with your campaigns. 

Customize targeted action forms just like you would for online petitions or giving pages. Brand the form to your organization, keep it short and to the point, and always give your supporters a clear and motivating call to action.

Improving your digital advocacy strategies

As you run your first digital advocacy campaign, note which strategies are most successful at reaching your supporters and inspiring action. Analyze both your achievements and challenges to learn how to improve your campaigns in the future. 

Ready to Get Started?

    Supporter Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing