6 steps to launch an advocacy campaign for lasting change
If you want to change the world for the better, you've got to be willing to put in the work.
An advocacy campaign involves piecing together a list of targeted actions to rally public support for policy change. Your advocacy campaign can take place at a local or global scale — looking to create a meaningful impact in your child's school lunch program or addressing the planet's climate crisis. And you don't have to be a registered 501c nonprofit organization to start an advocacy campaign.
With the right tools, you can bring about change in your school district, city, state, or country.
Below, we share step-by-step instructions for launching an advocacy campaign. Plus, we explain the tools you need to rally public support.
6 steps for launching your first advocacy campaign
To help raise awareness for your cause, you need the right combination of strategy, technology, and people. Below, we offer a step-by-step guide to building an advocacy campaign that spurs change in your community.
1. Set your goal 🎯
Before you launch your campaign, ask yourself: How will you measure success? Are you looking to influence policymakers and change a local law? Are you hoping to get state legislators to back your stance?
Once you know the type of change you want to create, take a step back and set a budget. How much money does your grassroots advocacy group need to raise in order to cover advertising, transportation, technology, and other costs?
As you set your goals, search for an advocacy software and fundraising platform that offers the following:
- Branded campaign pages: Create a beautifully-branded web page where supporters can learn about your cause. Add text and video describing the precise change you hope to create within your community.
- Optional goals: Set a measurable, achievable fundraising goal and publish it to your campaign page to help rally your audience.
2. Create a timeline ⌛
With your goals in place, create a timeline for your team. How long will it take to accomplish your goal, and what milestones will you need to reach to keep things on track?
You can map out your timeline in Excel or a project management system like Basecamp or Asana. Assign tasks to different members, giving each person a specific role. Be sure to carve out time for planning and strategy, promotion and outreach, and any special events. Here are the advocacy tools you might find helpful:
- Optional timeline: Create a sense of urgency among your supporters by publishing a timeline on your campaign page. You can count down to a major event or fundraiser, helping to garner excitement throughout your community.
- Zapier integrations: Connect your fundraising page to Zapier in order to integrate Givebutter with your project management system, helping you stay on track.
3. Write your messaging ✍
Once your timeline is mapped out, switch gears toward your messaging strategy. To create an effective advocacy campaign, your community needs to understand three things: 1) who you are, 2) what change you're trying to create, 3) how you're trying to influence that change.
You need to dial-in to crystal clear messaging, then amplify your point of view across all your marketing channels.
Create email campaigns, social media posts, and cold outreach templates your team can use to help spread the word. Here are a few tools to help launch your communications strategy:
- Text invites: Text messages have a 98% open rate, making them one of the most effective communication channels. Create a 1-2 sentence introduction inviting people to your campaign, then text it to your community.
- Unlimited email sends: Create a monthly newsletter to update your community on advocacy action items, or set up an automated email campaign leading up to your fundraising campaign.
4. Rally the troops 👯
To launch a successful advocacy campaign, you need to leverage the power of your community. More people spreading the word on your cause increases your chance of influencing decision-makers in your state, local, or national government.
To help recruit supporters and volunteers for your campaign, be sure to implement peer-to-peer fundraising. With team fundraising, existing supporters recruit their personal networks to support your cause, thereby amplifying your advocacy efforts. Plus, team fundraising has the added benefit of creating a little friendly competition, which can light a fire in your community and keep everyone working toward your goal.
To get the most out of team fundraising, be sure your advocacy campaign has access to the following tools:
- Leaderboards: Remember when we said team fundraising can start a competition? Create a leaderboard to see which team has raised the most funds for your advocacy organization.
- Trackable links: With trackable links, you can tie every donation back to a supporter. That way, each team knows exactly how much funds they’ve raised.
5. Keep up the momentum 🎉
With a strategic plan and team in place, you're on your way to creating lasting change in your community. But after your initial launch, how will you keep up the momentum?
To prevent a lull after your initial campaign launch, consider:
- Creating an activism hashtag that you can share on social media.
- Planning an in-person or virtual event to celebrate your progress.
- Reaching out to local influencers about your cause.
As part of your advocacy strategy, you want to keep the discussion going until you make meaningful change to public policy. Here are few ways to do that:
- Ticketed events: Plan a ticketed event where you invite grassroots organizers to discuss your cause and the policy change you're trying to create. You can also live stream the event to reach members of your target audience who might not live within driving distance.
- Supporter feeds: Stay active on your supporter feed, answering questions from your audience about your cause.
6. Follow-up and thank your supporters ✌️
Lobbying for a cause can take months — if not years — of ongoing momentum. With that being said, after a major milestone (like a fundraising event), you'll want to take a deep breath, thank your supporters, and celebrate the progress you've made.
Since supporters who receive a thank you are more likely to give again, be sure your advocacy work includes a thorough follow-up process.
Thank supporters immediately after receiving a donation, and invite them back for future events. Here are a few items you'll want in your toolkit:
- Automated thank yous: Givebutter allows you to automate the thank you process, sending a customized receipt after receiving a donation.
- CRM integration: Collect and store the contact information of all donors and stakeholders in a CRM system so you can thank them for their contributions. Next year, you can send a personal note to invite them to a future event.
Use Givebutter to launch your next advocacy campaign
An advocacy campaign is a set of strategic actions meant to make lasting policy change. Your advocacy campaign can be put in place at the local level or on a global scale, but in order to get the wheels turning, you'll need the right tools.
Givebutter is a fundraising platform with 70+ features to help your advocacy campaign come to life. With tools like SMS and email invites, third-party integrations, custom branded pages, team fundraising tools, and automated thank yous, it's the easiest way to create excitement for your cause.
Ready to see how Givebutter can help you launch your advocacy efforts? Start a free campaign today.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.