Moving the public from the education phase through organizing all the way to action can sometimes be a slow, arduous process for advocacy organizations. Even simple campaigns can take months to plan and execute; and for those trying to affect the passage of legislation the endgame is often measured in years. That’s why it’s increasingly important to recognize current events that can generate momentum for your nonprofit and deliver fundraising opportunities.
In this article, we’ll discuss using Salsa’s advocacy tools for nonprofits, specifically its petition feature as an online fundraising tool to take advantage of current events that might impact your organization.
How to Recognize Current Events That Can Have an Impact
The first step is to recognize a current event when it happens. This might seem like a simple task, but with our current 24/7 news cycle even the most important news gets old fast. One of the best ways to stay on top of it all is to make a list of keywords and topics that are meaningful in your industry.
Environmental advocates might keep a list of topics like existing EPA regulations or new legislation they are trying to move, or even the names of elected officials involved in the committees that might be voting on that legislation. Groups fighting disease can keep track of vaccines, new clinical trials, or the release of exciting new research.
Once you’ve identified important topics head over to Google Alerts where you can get notified when those topics are mentioned anywhere on the web. Simply create a new alert for each of the keywords you’re tracking and make sure to get notified “As it Happens” and deliver it to your email so you get the news right away.
For some organizations, recognizing an event that will be impactful is more obvious. In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, the ACLU turned immigration bans into a national call to action that raised millions of dollars and helped organize thousands of volunteers around enacting model policies at local levels. In these cases, the challenge is not figuring out which event will have an impact, but identifying the grassroots advocacy software that will best help you get the word out efficiently and effectively.
Online Fundraising with a Current Events Petition
You’ve got a short period of time to take advantage of current events so your actions must reach the largest group possible in the most efficient way. One of the quickest ways to galvanize supporters and fundraise around a current event is to create a petition and ask like-minded people to voice their support.
With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, groups with interest in the makeup of the court are vying for the attention of a captivated country. Some believe the U.S. Senate should take up the task of immediately filling the bench with a new appointee, while others believe the Senate should wait for the outcome of the election in November. Whichever side you find yourself on, a petition is a great way to poll your audience for such an issue.
Creating a petition in Salsa Engage takes just a few minutes using our responsive templates that look great on any device. Add a title, a short description, choose a contextually relevant image you have a simple form that people can sign quickly. Remember, the more fields you require the fewer people will complete the form. Try adding just First Name, Last Name, and Email.
Here’s a sample petition we created as an example.
Redirect Your Petition to a Fundraising Page
Normally, after a petition, you’d show the signer a note or thank them for taking action, but we’re going to do something a bit different here to encourage fundraising. If someone is signing a petition they’re more likely to donate than someone who isn’t going to sign, so it’s best to get them to that donate page as quickly as possible.
Here, you’ll create a new fundraising page that matches the look and feel of your petition. You can even incorporate a quick thank you message to acknowledge the petition signature as a part of that fundraising appeal.
Here’s a sample fundraising page we created to demonstrate.
Once you’ve published the fundraising page, copy that URL and paste it into the redirection URL box on the confirmation settings of the petition page you created in the previous step. That way, when supporters sign the petition they skip the signature notification page and go directly to the fundraising form.
This will cut down on the number of clicks you need to move a supporter to a donor and help increase fundraising overall.
Follow Up and Follow Through
Advocacy tools for nonprofits can do much more than help you collect signatures or make contact with legislators - they make a big difference in your fundraising success. Follow up communication is the best way to continue engaging your supporters.
A person who signs your petition is much more likely to donate than those who don’t, even if they don’t donate at the time of signing that petition. Within 24 hours of the action, send a reminder about the action they took, why the issue is so important, and let them know that their donations can help you continue spreading the message.
Getting out early during important current events can make or break your fundraising appeal. Once you identify the event, Salsa’s engagement tools can help you quickly and efficiently put together a winning campaign!