In an article entitled, “Creating High-Impact Nonprofits”, Stanford researchers Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie Crutchfield identified key characteristics of high-performing nonprofits. They found that successful nonprofits were able to effectively mobilize citizens around their mission by implementing robust public policy programs and advocacy initiatives. Here's a brief excerpt:
“The secret to their success lies in how high-impact nonprofits mobilize every sector of society – government, business, nonprofits, and the public – to be a force for good. In other words, greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than with how they manage their own internal operations.”
High-impact nonprofits cultivate powerful movements that extend their mission into the public sphere, engaging members and supporters with their purpose. In order to advance their cause, nonprofit leaders are continuously seeking ways to grow their organization and gain public support. People decide to join charitable organizations or professional trade associations for a variety of reasons (such as developing a professional network, learning new skills, etc.), including the chance to get involved in an organization whose cause they are passionate about. For this reason, organizations with strong advocacy programs are able to leverage their policy work to grow their supporter base.
Here are a few tips your organization can implement to create an advocacy process, ultimately using advocacy as a tool to grow your nonprofit organization:
Create a process for advocacy. There are many different ways to create an advocacy process. Traditional public policy efforts usually rely on hiring lobbyists, but organizations that can’t afford lobbyists can designate an individual within their organization to oversee a legislative committee. The use of advocacy software, such as Muster, also helps to provide structure for an organization’s internal advocacy communications.
Create a “movement.” Get the word out about your mission and public policy efforts by implementing great communication. Email your membership, ask them to share your advocacy initiatives through their social media channels. Create online “Action Centers” on your website that describe your public policy initiatives.
Provide updates on your advocacy efforts to make sure your supporters are staying engaged.
Recognize individuals who have been outstanding “advocates” for your organization. Identify which of your members or supporters has been writing their elected officials, attending advocacy meetings, or referring your online “Action Centers” to their friends through social media.
Reach out to your most active advocates and invite them to other events. Encourage your "super" advocates speak to other members or potential members of your organization about their story and why they are so passionate about your mission.
For more information on how to maximize your advocacy efforts, please feel free to reach out to a Muster advocacy specialist.