Multi-Channel Advocacy: 5 Best Practices

Monday, January 24, 2022

Advocacy campaigns have the power to connect your nonprofit with new audiences while transforming the world for the better. With an advocacy campaign, you can engage donors on the issues they care about, introduce your nonprofit to new supporters, and further your cause by lobbying for social change, all while earning donations and getting your nonprofit’s name out there. 

Of course, your nonprofit won’t attract new supporters and activists without the help of your marketing team. Just like your fundraisers, your nonprofit will need to plan, prepare outreach materials, and launch a new marketing campaign to drive attention towards your advocacy initiatives. And one of the most effective marketing strategies for those campaigns is multi-channel outreach. 

To help your nonprofit expand your advocacy efforts across multiple platforms, this guide will explore five proven best practices:

  1. Create a consistent brand identity. 
  2. Make your website accessible. 
  3. Leverage your supporters’ connections. 
  4. Use traditional advocacy tactics to supplement your online campaign. 
  5. Keep track of key metrics. 

Let’s get started!

1. Create a consistent brand identity.

Multi-channel outreach allows nonprofits to build connections with supporters by establishing multiple touch points. By seeing your nonprofit’s messages across multiple platforms, potential supporters will build up brand recognition and become more interested in following through on one of your calls to action. 

Of course, to instill brand awareness for your advocacy efforts, your nonprofit will need to have a consistent brand identity that communicates your organization’s core values. Whether your nonprofit has a long established brand identity or is interested in rebranding, here are a few branding practices that will ensure your supporters understand what your organization stands for:

  • Connect visuals to your mission. Your logos and color define your nonprofit at a first glance and should be chosen with the appropriate care and gravity. Select visuals that complement your values, and ensure you use professional design tools or have a qualified graphic designer help you finalize your logo. 
  • Create a condensed, shareable version of your mission statement. Blog posts, traditional letters, and long-form videos all provide your nonprofit with the space to share your mission and advocacy objectives in full. However, text-messages, shorter videos, and social media posts will require you to condense every relevant detail in just a few sentences. Prepare several versions of your mission statement so your marketing team has something to share on every platform you regularly use.
  • Consider how to display your brand on different channels. Some platforms will place limitations on how much your nonprofit can convey your brand identity. For example, most social media platforms have limited customization features, while other mediums limit your presentation options. After all, you can’t share interactive content through traditional mail or phone calls. For your online appeals, take mobile optimization into account and carefully select which brand elements you will include in your content on smaller screens. 

Crafting a consistent brand identity will also help your nonprofit when reaching out to corporate sponsors. As 360MatchPro’s corporate giving statistics report notes, corporations gave more than $21 billion to nonprofits last year, meaning there’s likely a sponsor out there that wants to support your cause. Businesses want to give to organizations whose philanthropic values align with theirs, so it is important to ensure your brand conveys your nonprofit’s purpose but also provides space to reframe your exact goals to match up with those of your potential sponsors. 

2. Make your website accessible.

While social media allows supporters to engage with your advocacy appeals directly through the platform they are using, other forms of communication, like direct mail, require supporters to navigate to your website. Make sure all of your supporters, no matter what channel of communication you’ve used to contact them, will be able to make full use of the website they find by following accessibility best practices. 

You can improve your website’s accessibility by including alternative text on images and adding transcripts to videos, allowing everyone to engage with your content. These practices can increase your supporter base by making your content available to everyone who visits your website, including those using assistive technology such as screen readers. Whether you’re launching your first website or looking to upgrade your current one, web accessibility standards should be at the forefront of your design. 

3. Leverage your supporters’ connections.

Supporters are more likely to join advocacy campaigns that have a tangible impact on their own lives or the lives of their loved ones. This means your supporters likely have stories to tell about their personal experiences with your campaign’s cause and a network of friends, family, and followers they would be interested in sharing their stories with. 

As Muster’s guide to grassroots advocacy explains, these stories and connections are vital not just for reaching new supporters, but for reaching out to elected officials and urging them to vote on relevant legislation. The article further advises how nonprofit and grassroots advocacy groups can build out their digital advocacy strategy:

  • Balancing a united front with personal messages. Your supporters are likely passionate individuals, but they may not always be conscious of all of the necessary points they need to hit when advocating on behalf of your nonprofit. Provide supporters with templates that allow them to customize their messages while maintaining a sense of unified professionalism.
  • Making advocacy as convenient as possible. Your supporters donate their time and energy to your campaign, and many of them will appreciate your nonprofit taking extra steps to make advocacy fast and easy. This includes connecting them with relevant officials, providing a list of talking points they can pull from, and creating messaging templates to help them organize their thoughts. 
  • Engaging in peer-to-peer advocacy. You’ve likely heard of peer-to-peer fundraisers, and your advocacy campaigns can employ similar tactics to earn donations for your cause and expand your support network. Encourage supporters to share their stories with friends and family to demonstrate the tangible impact political change will have on the people in their lives. 

Developing an advocacy program made up of volunteer supporters requires continual guidance and cultivation. Invest in the necessary software to monitor your supporters and provide them with the resources they need to be effective advocates for your cause. 

4. Use traditional advocacy tactics to supplement your online campaign.

Technology has transformed how advocacy campaigns connect with supporters, but that doesn’t mean traditional approaches like direct mail are dead. The prevalence of digital marketing has caused traditional tactics to feel more personal, making them a useful tool for building momentum with supporters after initial contact online. Once supporters connect with your nonprofit online by registering to volunteer, donating to your advocacy campaign, or subscribing to your newsletter, you can reach out with more personalized, traditional messaging methods. 

These traditional methods include sending thank you cards and support request letters in the mail, calling supporters on the phone to discuss your campaign, and inviting supporters to in-person events to start a face-to-face conversation. 

5. Keep track of key metrics.

Each channel you use for your advocacy campaign will generate its own unique engagement and conversion data. Before launching your multi-channel advocacy campaign, make sure you have the necessary analytics tools to gather data and identify trends in your reports. 

The right advocacy software will have the tools to monitor the most important metrics for your outreach campaign, such as:

  • Engagement rates. Some platforms make it easier to monitor engagement than others. For example, most social media platforms will outwardly display comments, likes, and shares on each individual post, whereas tracking how many of your traditional mail appeals led to website visits is more difficult. 
  • Supporter retention. Your nonprofit should always strive to attract new supporters, but you can more reliably grow your organization by retaining supporters from one campaign to the next. Monitor supporter engagement for each advocacy campaign and compare it to previous ones to ensure you are maintaining a stable base of support. 
  • Clickthrough rates. While your engagement rates will help you monitor your success with supporters on each platform, clickthrough rate determines which platforms (and which of your posts) are the most successful at directing supporters to your website. Keep track of how much traffic your online outreach channels are driving towards your website to understand how people are discovering your cause. 

Keep in mind that your data only matters if your team uses it to take action. Track reliable metrics and make actionable plans about how you will respond to data trends based on whether they meet your goals. For example, your nonprofit might decide that if engagement is down by more than 25% on one social media platform, you’ll scale back and focus more heavily on your accounts that are garnering more attention. 

Multi-channel advocacy strengthens your advocacy campaign’s visibility, connecting you with supporters on more platforms and empowering you to reach out to elected officials in new ways. You can improve your nonprofit’s comprehensive multi-channel communication strategy by ensuring your brand and messaging are consistent and providing the supporters advocating on your behalf the resources they need to do the same. 

Corey Vaughn is Chief Marketing Officer at Muster, where he has spent the last five years driving growth through lead generation, content creation, and product education. He also works closely with nonprofits to help improve and scale their advocacy efforts through digital campaigns. Connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest in nonprofit advocacy.