Understanding the Role of Technology in Nonprofit Advocacy
Consider a food bank raising awareness of childhood food insecurity to pressure government officials into establishing a district-wide free meals program. Or, consider a cultural preservation nonprofit raising awareness of the historical significance of a local monument to convince officials not to demolish it.
In both examples, awareness is what enacts change — as more and more individuals discover the issue, they too contact their representatives until the dull roar of messages becomes too difficult to ignore. Then, the representatives respond to public pressure and take the desired action.
In the simplest terms, nonprofit advocacy campaigns have the goal of bringing awareness to a mission-related issue. With that in mind, you might think that any “buzz” will be beneficial; however, to truly make an impact, your advocacy campaign must be strategic from the start.
As advocacy campaigns have grown more sophisticated, technologies have emerged to help nonprofits coordinate their campaigns and empower and manage volunteer advocates with convenient tools. Let’s explore two options and tips for how they can elevate your next advocacy campaign.
According to DNL OmniMedia’s guide, an advocacy app is “a mobile app that connects your supporters to all of your active and most important advocacy campaigns.” Individuals can take action on behalf of your campaign using a tool in the palm of their hands— their mobile phones.
For example, an advocacy app can empower your volunteer advocates to:
- Fundraise for the cause.
- Receive push notifications and learn about the latest action steps from your team.
- Fill out surveys.
- Send emails and text messages both to representatives and their peers.
- Call representatives from directly within the app.
- Utilize templates of pre-set messages to ensure they communicate key points.
- Manually log any advocacy activities completed from outside of the app.
There are numerous benefits to incorporating an advocacy app into your strategy. Because supporters are completing advocacy activities from within a tool you’ve provided them with, you can access data and reports on these activities to later analyze and understand which efforts are most effective.
Plus, research shows that individuals are now spending more time on their smartphones than they are using desktop computers. So, you’re meeting them where they are — on smartphones— while drastically streamlining and simplifying the advocacy process. This can increase participation in your campaigns and improve volunteer advocate retention overall.
Top Tip: Consider investing in a dedicated advocacy app. When you do, seek a solution that can be both integrated with your CRM and custom-branded to your organization.
Constituent Relationship Management Software
Your nonprofit’s constituent relationship management software (CRM) plays a significant role in the successful operations of your advocacy campaigns.
As a baseline, your nonprofit’s CRM should be able to track all advocacy activities completed. This gives you a birds-eye view of the campaign, allowing you to make sure all efforts are working in sync. The data collected also allows you to evaluate the efficacy of your campaign efforts over time.
Beyond baseline activity monitoring, some CRMs come equipped with advocacy-specific features. For example, EveryAction is a unified CRM that was created with the needs of advocacy organizations in mind. Because of this, it has tools to enable:
- One-click petitions
- Social media advocacy
- Automated email communications
- Research on elected officials in various districts
- Mobile canvassing
While not every CRM is created specifically for advocacy, it’s worthwhile to investigate your options if advocacy is a significant driver for your nonprofit’s efforts.
Top Tip: Conduct a review of your CRM. Are you effectively tracking data surrounding your advocacy efforts, or are your advocacy campaigns disorganized? Consider partnering with a nonprofit technology consultant to elevate your software if it’s being underutilized in advocacy campaigns.
Technology can play a powerful role in coordinating and elevating your advocacy efforts, but only if you’re using it to the fullest. Examine your advocacy strategy and current technology solutions to ensure the latter is supporting the former.
And remember, you can always partner with a nonprofit technology consultant to ensure the tools in your software lineup are working together to reach your advocacy, fundraising, and donor stewardship goals. Good luck!