Civic Engagement and Advocacy Blog

Why Grassroots Advocacy?     Advocacy = Donations

Posted by Brent Willis on 2/3/16 7:14 AM

Is your organization looking for more revenue?  Which one isn't, right?  

The simple answer is, if you create more value, the organization will realize more donations.  Sounds straight forward, doesn't it. Well, it can be...

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How to Create an Online Grassroots Community Plan for Lobbying

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 3/5/15 7:00 AM

Combine the power of online communities and advocacy to increase member engagement.

Creating an online community to educate and engage people around specific topics always sounds like a great idea, until someone realizes how much work is involved. It can seem like a full time job, and in reality it is. From what tools to use, how to get people to join, and how to create an experience that get people to want to engage- it gets overwhelming fast.

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The Role of Advocacy in Member Acquisition and Retention

Posted by Jeff Ryan on 6/5/14 2:16 PM

A recently released annual benchmarking report conducted by consulting firm Marketing General Incorporated reveals some interesting trends in how organizations are attracting, retaining and engaging their memberships. The survey reflects data submitted by 695 individual membership and trade associations. The findings in the report include many nuggets that you may find invaluable in creating your organization’s membership marketing tactics and strategies for 2014 and beyond.

One particularly interesting trend is that while it is still a top three reason for joining a membership or trade organization, advocacy has dropped to tied for third along with “learning best practices in their profession”.

Here is how the top 5 reasons for joining have tracked over the five years the survey has been conducted.



Source: 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report. Marketing General Incorporated. www.marketinggeneral.com


Why the drop in advocacy as a reason to join? One clue may be found in looking at the top three reasons cited for members that do not renew. They are:

1. Budget cuts/economic hardship of the company (18%).

2. Lack of engagement with the organization (15%).

3. Unable to justify membership costs with any significant ROI (11%).

All three of the concerns can be mitigated by communicating the value of your organization to your members and following through with actions and programs that prove your claims. In fact, because your membership is basing their annual decision to renew or not based on their perceived value of what your organization is providing, it is essential for you to do it.
Which brings us to the question of why advocacy is losing some of its luster as a reason to join an organization or retain membership. If we look at the other four top reasons to join an organization, we see  that they are relatively easy for members to attach value to. It’s not hard to see if networking opportunities are bringing new clients or prospects, or if access to specialized information, learning best practices and acquiring new skills are enhancing one’s career or making a member organization stronger. The hard one for most people to attach immediate value to is advocacy.

There’s a reason for this. Most organizations tend to communicate about their advocacy efforts in two ways:

High level communications
Frequently used in membership solicitation and often reduced to a bullet or a few lines of copy — “We’re your industry advocate”, “We represent our industry at public hearings”, etc.     

Overly granular communications
What seems obvious to you may not be to your membership. The fact that your organization is working to ensure a piece of legislation passes (or is defeated) is certainly an act of advocacy. But your members may not see it that way unless you explicitly position your action as advocacy (e.g., “Our recent appearance on capital hill to help ensure the legislation passed (or was defeated) is another example of [your organization’s name here] advocacy in action”).

If you want your organization to be credited for your advocacy efforts by existing and potential members, you need to make communicating about it a priority. Highlight your efforts in e-mails, press releases and social media. Consider creating a campaign around the value your organization offers to members. And definitely include your advocacy efforts in your membership renewal outreach. (According to the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, individual member associations using 7 or more contacts in their renewal series are more likely to report overall membership renewal rates at 80% or higher.) Including advocacy as one of the greatest strengths of your organization and one that yields a payback for your membership can only help keep your renewal rates high.
Member engagement ebook
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Your Declaration to Independents — Grassroots Advocacy Now!

Posted by Jeff Ryan on 12/11/13 2:40 PM

Are independents an opportunity for grassroots advocacy?

It is the powerful perfect storm of frustration with gridlock, partisanship that has been fine tuned to the point of the parties marketing to themselves and dissatisfaction with the growing gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” . It has all given rise to a huge powerhouse of voters: the independents.

Who are the independents? True to the name, these are independently minded people who don’t believe everything they hear. They also believe that the two party system isn’t serving the greater good, that the political funding system is horribly broken and that the path to a better future is through consensus building and problem solving. 

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Are you too close to your grassroots campaign message?

Posted by Jeff Ryan on 12/6/13 1:40 PM

If so, your audience may be stuck in the weeds.

As the story goes, director Orson Welles spent hour upon hour in the editing booth trimming scenes from his epic film, Citizen Kane- only to find that the film he ultimately created bewildered his audiences more than bedazzled them.

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8 Steps to Successful Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 10/24/13 11:30 AM

Sometimes the easy part of grassroots advocacy is finding people who are passionate about your cause. Where many grassroots campaigns stumble is when you start to translate passion into action, and then action into a movement. Talk is easy, sustainable action requires planning, dedication, and discipline. 

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How Advocacy Groups Can Organize and Start Grassroots Campaigns

Posted by Brian Banbridge on 9/18/13 1:00 PM

3 Keys of Grassroots Organization

"We have enough lobbyists. We have enough politicians. We have enough special interests. We don’t have enough grassroots legislative advocacy."

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Does grassroots lobbying make a difference?

Posted by Brian Banbridge on 9/9/13 1:00 PM

Who does your lawmaker listen to? Is it you, their party, or the President?

This was a question asked on CNN this morning and one that echoes in the minds of many apathetic Americans. It has been a tense week in Washington and the tensions are starting to boil over. This is evident not only in the discussions that President Obama had at the G-20 Summit, but it is readily apparent here at home. This past week, Senator John McCain held a town hall in Phoenix and his constituents, who attended that meeting, sent him a very clear and unmistakable message: NO U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN SYRIA!

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Will Your Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns Last for 50 Years?

Posted by Brent Willis on 8/30/13 12:30 PM

3 Lessons for grassroots campaigns from MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech.

It was 50 years ago this week that Dr. Martin Luther King stood atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the world about his dream. It was a bold step for a man of such humble beginnings. Over the years, his dream has spread across this country, however, events within just the past few years have highlighted the reality that the dream is far from complete. In fact, it has highlighted some crucial component of successdul grassroots advocacy campaigns that many fail to understand.

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