If you’re launching a new non-profit or campaign, there’s a lot that needs to be done digitally to start (more tips here on how to successfully launch your campaign or non-profit) but I wanted to talk about social media in particular, since it’s the piece that candidates — or executive directors are likely to get tunnel vision on.
Why social media? It’s where the people are. As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with 2 in 10 doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Sharing your content via social media can help you reach new audiences, as well as existing supporters.
Here’s the very latest scoop on how you can use social media to build your email list, for both non-profits and political campaigns.
First, why move social media supporters to your email list? If people prefer to get your content on social media, why try so hard to get their email address? Two reasons – reach and control.
Three quarters of adults are connected to one or more social media platforms. Facebook is the behemoth, with all other sites clocking in at fractions of their base. But as per usual, none of these stats guarantee that users check the sites every day, or even that they will see your content if you post it right before they log on.
Around the world, people are organizing and demanding change. After the 2016 election, protesting and advocacy is on the rise across the United States. How can you harness this unprecedented energy for your non-profit or political campaign to move policy and create change, while strengthening your organization? We’ll share some principles and best practices in online organizing that you can apply to your work. Note: if one of your goals is to grow your list while you’re creating this amazing change, be sure to read our guide to using effective online advocacy to grow your list for non-profits or campaigns.
First, consider that most online action does not exist in a vacuum. Online alone will rarely make the difference. Winning online campaigns usually have an offline component, even if it’s just a great petition delivery that then gets your organization some earned media coverage. Don’t neglect your offline planning in favor of purely virtual actions, or you’ll be limiting your impact.
The dirty little secret is that a lot of online advocacy doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything offline AND it isn’t growing your list either. So you need to think strategically about online actions for your non-profit or campaign.
One online advocacy principle to keep in mind before starting an action is to consider whether you will likely gain as much as you will lose from natural churn – people unsubscribing, old email addresses bouncing and so on.
So how DO you make your action more effective? Here are some online advocacy best practices to follow, for non-profits and campaigns alike.
The first and most important principle for online fundraising for non-profits and political campaigns: You must ask! Most people are not going to wake up this morning and think to themselves, today they should give to your campaign or organization. You need to go out and ask them to give. But this doesn’t mean you should overdo it — it’s better to send a strong fundraiser once in awhile rather than bug your most dedicated supporters every day until they tune out. But don’t go years without asking, either. (Note the rules may be a little different if you’re a campaign right before election day, where burnout is less of an issue.)
How do non-profits and political campaigns get started raising money online? At PowerThru, we see that question on occasion. A digital consulting firm like ours may not make sense when you’re at the beginning, but here’s some advice to get you started with online fundraising when you’re very small. P.S. if you’re a brand new non-profit organization or political campaign, read this first: how to launch your campaign or non-profit organization successfully online.
If the size and strength of your email list determines how much advocacy you can accomplish, how many volunteers you can recruit and how much money you can raise, it becomes critically important to be able to grow that list. But how do you do that, especially if you don’t have much of a budget (or any budget at all?)
So your website is a disaster, or non-existent! Don’t panic, this is not uncommon at all. Even if the website was cutting edge when it was designed two or four years ago, styles change. If your website is not meeting your needs, it may be costing you supporters – or even direct donations. If the election (or year end fundraising period) is more than a few months off, it’s probably time to face the dreaded website redesign process. Or perhaps your organization or campaign is just off the ground, a splash page worked in a pinch but now you need a full site.
How do you get a beautiful new site that meets your needs, on time and on budget?
One of the first things we recommend people do is read up on the latest web design trends. Some trends are backed by data that shows that certain styles perform better – but many are a matter of personal preference.
It’s time to do some digital planning! Whenever I begin working with a new organization, I start by taking stock of where they’re at. I’ve walked into a campaign before to find out that email signups on the website are going nowhere! Or that fundraising is a separate system and online donors are not integrated into your mass email stream. Perhaps the campaign has an old Twitter handle from four years ago, and nobody knows the password anymore. Or somebody is squatting on the domain name of your organization because nobody renewed it. Without taking a thorough top-down look, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks – especially if the organization or campaign has been on autopilot for awhile.
You’ll want to start by cataloguing all your digital assets, and making sure you have passwords to everything (or start reaching out to Facebook, Twitter etc. to try to get access back to old social media properties).
Here are some basic questions to ask to help build that digital inventory.
At PowerThru, we’ve helped a lot of political candidates launch their campaigns, or Executive Directors launch or re-launch their non-profits. It’s a fun and hectic time before you’re official – lots of late nights and talking, brainstorming names and reaching out to people for potential support, sketching out logos and so on. Remember though, that your announcement day (for a campaign at least) might be the biggest press day of your entire campaign, so it’s important to have everything in place and functioning so your first fundraising email goes smoothly, reporters can get what they need to write good stories and so on. It’s important to have done the prep work beforehand so your launch goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. Whether you’re a first-time candidate running for office or a first-time executive director with an idea for a brand new organization, or a seasoned elected official running for re-election in the new digital era, here’s what you need to know to get started.