As the holidays heat up, business slows down in Washington and in state houses across the country. This year there are still impeachment proceedings and budget fights, but for organizations skipping these issues, the sense of urgency that drives advocacy can dry up.
The lack of activity tempts many organizations to simply go dark after Giving Tuesday, but that is often a mistake. Allowing your list of advocates to languish is almost always a bad idea. You may find that when you re-engage, many are no longer tuned in to your message.
A better plan is to find creative ways to engage your advocates and exercise your list once or twice. While every audience is different, a good rule is to engage your advocates at least every 30 days with a solid reminder of why they should stand with you.
Want to learn more? Talk to an expert at Phone2Action. We will facilitate roughly 30 million connections between advocates and public officials this year.
Advocacy Without a Call to Action
Some out there will say—perhaps rightly—that this is a no-brainer, but don’t think every organization is actively contacting supporters. As our recent 2019 Advocacy Survey showed, that’s not the case.
Full results of the survey are coming early next month, but we’ll share certain insights . While 46 percent said they send a communique at least every two weeks and often more frequently, 42 percent said they communicate every 30 days or even less frequently. One in five regularly go past 30 days. Eight percent said they only advocate when there’s a crisis.
This is not ideal. Yes, too much communication is often a problem. But so is too little. While much is written about moving people to action, it is perfectly acceptable to communicate your audience without a call to action, and the holidays are a good time to do so. If what you have to say is relevant and authentic, your audience will appreciate it, or at least they won’t object.
Of course, hot and timely issues—especially crises, real or perceived—do make advocacy and fundraising easier. They provide ready levers to motivate people. The problem arises when there are no issues to provide this leverage. How to keep your list active without an issue to energize your audience?
The best case scenario is a relevant campaign. If you have something to say on Giving Tuesday, the federal budget or any other active issue, that’s certainly the way to go. If you don’t, it is time to get creative.
Your audience stands with you for a reason. A good holiday campaign—with or without a call to action—reminds people why. Here are some ideas:
- Say Thanks. Thanking supporters for their help, with specific examples or statistics, is always a solid move. Keep it tight. Statistics pulled together by marketing giant Hubspot, which are based on millions of communiques, suggest that email is most effective at 200 words or less.
- Look Backward or Forward. Explaining all the good your organization has done in the past year can be a great way to stay in touch and reinforce the work you do. You can also look ahead, giving supporters a taste of the action in 2020. What is your organization doing next year? What are the goals? Again, keep it tight.
- Survey: The Interactive Resolution. You can execute a twist on the “resolution” theme by asking supporters what they want to see happen on your issues next year. Short surveys are wonderfully interactive. You can ask questions, then report results, keeping your list plenty active—with useful information—this season. Just remember: if supporters ask for it, they probably want to see it happen.
- Pledge to Vote. Next year’s election already promises record turnout, but the pledge to vote is a time-tested standard. Asking advocates to sign a pledge gets them thinking about issues. It can also give you something positive to report: “We got more than X people to pledge!”
- Letter From The Boss. A sort, personal letter from your CEO or executive director can make a solid holiday email to advocates. It can recap, look ahead or simply convey sincere thoughts about your organization and issues.
- If You Must… If you have to go with holiday standards, at least focus them on your issues. Don’t go with Happy Thanksgiving when you can offer Five Things to be Thankful For in Education. Don’t say Happy New Year when you can offer Our New Year’s Resolution on Trade.
Whether you choose one of these ideas, or go with something all your own, there’s no need to go dark after Giving Tuesday. Instead, resolve to engage your advocates, remind them what you stand for and exercise your list.
Want to learn more insights from the 2019 Advocacy Survey? Sign up for our webinar.
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