5 Factors to Consider Before Choosing Advocacy Software

June 22, 2015 at 3:27 AM

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Selecting the right grassroots advocacy software for your organization is an investment that pays big dividends for your influence on public policy. There are plenty of things to account for when choosing an advocacy software vendor. These are 5 most important factors to consider before choosing the software platform that will help you accomplish your legislative and engagement goals.

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If you’re in the market for advocacy software, you’re looking for a solution that meets your strategic needs while being cost-effective. The ROI on advocacy software is measurable in many ways (check our blog on that), but if your organization pays an exorbitant price, that ROI can quickly fade.

You may have stumbled upon companies that offer software with hefty price tags.

Nonprofit advocacy software shouldn’t break the bank.

It should be an investment that makes sense for your budget while executing your advocacy strategy. Pricing runs the gamut, so it’s crucial to know all your options before you overpay. The last thing you want is a solution that’s packed with tools you’ll never use or is hard to use when you can get an affordable solution that works perfectly for your organization.

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There are two ways to look at this topic. 

  1. How do my supporters communicate with their elected officials?
  2. How do I communicate with my supporters about my advocacy campaigns?

These two often make or break how successful your digital advocacy will be. Of course, there will be other factors, but communication is the core of effective digital advocacy. Simplifying and measuring that process is why organizations purchase advocacy software in the first place. 

How do my supporters communicate with their elected officials?

For advocacy campaigns, the end all be all is still email. Email advocacy is the most effective way to drive mass messages to legislators. It provides the lowest amount of friction for supporters to engage, and it's highly measurable. 

That's not to discount the other means of communication such as patch-through calls, Twitter, and even U.S. Mail, all of which can be effective when used in the correct situation. Still, email remains the most potent method of digital advocacy.  

How do I communicate with my supporters about my advocacy campaigns?

This is where things can start to get a little muddy — because no one communication channel is better than the other. Each is important, and each serves a purpose. When talking about digital advocacy, people usually refer to 3 distinct channels: email, social, and text. Which communication channel is most effective will often depend upon your audience, but each has its place, and when used in conjunction, they drive the most supporters to take action. 

It's essential to look at each platform's various features and decide what would work best for your membership/supporter base when choosing advocacy software. 

 

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Whether you're a staff of one or one hundred, you don't want to waste precious time and resources getting lost in an overly complex application. The whole point of advocacy software is to simplify the process and present clear-cut data and results.

When shopping for advocacy software, think about what will be easy-to-use for you and your supporters. Both the act of creating a campaign and taking action on one should be quick, intuitive, and painless. Different vendors will have different workflows for creating advocacy campaigns. Still, if a core part of their philosophy isn't making user-friendly tools, it might be best to go another route.

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A great way to better understand the company and software you'll be investing in is to see how they approach customer support and success. It's a vital function of any healthy software company, and it shows how much they value your business. 

How can you learn more about their support/success programs? 

  • Read online reviews at places like Capterra & G2
    • Compare each platform and see if support/success is something that sticks out.
  • Ask the sales rep for references
    • This will show how good of a relationship the employees have with their customers
  • Ask how they handle customer service and if they have help articles, webinars, etc.
  • Check their website for more social proof, case studies, and content that will help you find success. 

If you're going to invest in advocacy software, you want the vendor invested in you and care that you find success. 

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

While this may be true, it's crucial to find a platform that isn't necessarily stagnant or, worse, decaying. If you're truly going to invest in advocacy software, it's important to look at the long-term picture. Evaluate what the platform might be like in 3 years, whether or not they're updating the product in a way that makes sense for your organization, and if there are concrete development goals.

Companies may not divulge all of these details since they don't want to over-promise and under-deliver. That's fair. As long as there is some sense of future development and features to make your life easier, then that's wonderful.

Political advocacy software is a complex application, any company dedicated to building a platform and maintaining it will likely prove to be a great partner.

Conclusion

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to advocacy software — what works for some won't work for others. That's why it's vital that you weigh what is important to you and your supporters when shopping for a solution. These five categories provide a great entry point into understanding different tools and finding what will work for you.

If you need more help in your search for advocacy software, check out our free guide: 10 Factors To Consider Before Purchasing Advocacy Software

This valuable guide dives into the intricacies of advocacy software, legislator data, and finding the ROI in advocacy. 

Corey Vaughn

Written by Corey Vaughn

Corey leads marketing and brand efforts at Muster — creating content and initiatives to help nonprofits reach their advocacy and engagement goals.

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