Grassroots Fundraising and Advocacy: 8 Tips From The Experts

6 min read
June 10, 2021
Allison Smith headshot
Allison Smith
Content Marketing Coordinator, Neon One
a man holding a sign at a protest (grassroots fundraising)

Advocacy and grassroots fundraising campaigns are top of mind for many nonprofit organizations right now. More than ever, nonprofits are looking to go beyond fundraising campaigns and start taking action through advocacy campaigns.

Is your organization trying to motivate your current list to get involved? We have you covered. We talked to the advocacy experts at One Click Politics to advise how your organization can make your grassroots and advocacy campaigns more effective.

1. Use Your Existing Donor Base for Advocacy

Worried that your supporters won’t get involved with advocacy? That shouldn’t be a concern!

“Donors have literally invested in your cause,” says Byron Kelso, Business Development Manager at One Click Politics. “They’re a great opportunity for advocacy outreach.”

When starting a new advocacy or grassroots campaign, be sure to leverage the support and contacts you already have. 

Don’t rule out folks like lower-tier donors, event attendees, and newsletter subscribers because they may seem less engaged. They’ve expressed interest in your cause, and they’re likely to take action to support it.

2. Mix Grassroots Fundraising & Advocacy

People like to support causes in different ways, so make sure that you include multiple calls-to-action in your campaign communications.

For example, a recent campaign from the International Rescue Committee reached out to their supporters in response to former President Trump’s refugee ban. They gave their supporters two ways to get involved in the campaign:

  • Advocacy: Tell the White House to end the refugee ban
  • Fundraising: Donate to us to help support refugee family relocation fees

Including multiple options gives your list more ways to support your cause. This makes it more likely that they’ll take action (either through advocacy or donations). You’d be surprised — some do both!

3. Make Your Grassroots Fundraising Timely

Advocacy and grassroots campaigns should work with current events and the news cycle. 

Research shows that the content or news stories most likely to go viral are the ones that make people angry. Be sure you are staying relevant and reaching out to supporters when news breaks.

Ideally, your campaign and call-to-action should be specific, urgent, timely, and inspiring.

Combining these elements into your campaign makes your fundraising totals, engagement numbers, and chance of success much higher.

4. Use Data to Understand Your Supporters

The key to engaging effectively with your supporters is understanding what inspires them. 

Find out what inspired your supporters to get involved. Then, use that information to target them with the causes they support, the types of communications they like, and further opportunities they’d enjoy.

You should be tracking as much data as possible. 

While some demographics are easy to understand and identify (gender, age, etc.), some are not. Knowing as much as possible about your supporters will help you identify demographics like political parties, which can create segments for your advocacy campaign.

Ultimately, you know your supporters best — and you know what data will help you understand their decisions. While data like educational level or marital status may be helpful for some organizations, you might find it more valuable to track hobbies your supporters enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Just trust your gut and use the data that you do have to hone your outreach.

Looking for a nonprofit database to track all this data?

Learn how in Neon CRM

5. Segment your Grassroots Fundraising Campaign Outreach

Don’t send all of your campaign messages to every single group of your supporters. Use your organization’s data to segment your supporters into groups that make sense for your grassroots fundraising or advocacy campaign.

Further reading: Donor Communications at Every Lifecycle Stage

But again, segmentation is another place you can be creative and experiment. 

Consider the different types of audiences you can create and the different types of communications you can send to them. And be sure to track your results to know what marketing and communications strategies work best for you!

6. Focus on the Legislation that Matters Most to Your Cause

More than 1.5 million legislative actions are taken every year, with more than 150,000 new bills introduced each year.

That’s a lot. With last-minute hearings and votes taken at night without warning, it can be tough to stay alert to all legislative issues.

You don’t have to stay on top of every single issue because you’re an advocacy organization. Be picky with the advocacy and grassroots campaigns that you decide to get behind. Be sure to prioritize campaigns that your supporters are more likely to act on. That will impact your mission the most.

7. Use a Tool to Track Legislative Progress

Because there are so many legislative initiatives — across the federal, state, and local levels — nonprofits can easily lose track of the progress of a bill.

Not only is this detrimental to your fundraising and advocacy campaigns, but it could have the potential to seriously impact your mission negatively.

Luckily there are plenty of free tools out there for nonprofits looking to stay on top of legislation. You can use TrackBill to search for any legislative initiative — and you can filter by location, topic, status, and recent activity.

At the federal level, the U.S. government also provides a website for constituents to track legislation and contact their representatives. Both are great resources that you can leverage in your campaigns!

8. You’re a Salesperson

Actually, you’re probably not a salesperson. But you should act like one. Part of grassroots fundraising and advocacy work is selling people on your mission and how they can support it.

Even internally at your organization, you should always be selling your vision to staff — and motivating them to help make that vision a reality.

If sales isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Just be sure to communicate the passion you have for your organization and the cause you’re fighting for. People will respect it and respond to it.

Have any other advocacy and grassroots fundraising tips? What’s worked for your organization in the past? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for a donor database for effective campaign management that integrates with advocacy software like One Click Politics, Grassroots Unwired, and Ujoin.

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