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Calls to Action

While advocacy actions are often urgent and fast-breaking, you must always remember that your supporters are likely being barraged by messages from multiple organizations and cause areas. Even the most committed activists will appreciate a break from email subject lines that start with “Tell Congress…” or “URGENT.” One of the strengths of digital communication is its flexibility. Read on for best practices in crafting your calls to action.

Calls to Action Best Practices

Consider these calls to action ideas to keep things interesting and keep your supporters engaged:

Share on social media. Ask supporters to amplify something you’ve already posted on your own page or feed. Be sure to make it easy on supporters by including a one-click share link in your emails.

Join a social media rapid response team. Ask supporters to sign up to receive more frequent requests to share content socially, perhaps as part of a larger super-advocate program. This tactic is often particularly effective if your organization is under attack or your issue is in the news. Often, your emails to this committed group will include more than one share option—for instance, a series of tweets for people to choose from.

Create social media content. Ask supporters to take a photo or shoot a cellphone video and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You might ask activists to write a hashtag on a piece of paper and hold it in the photo or film themselves talking about why they care about your issues. To keep supporters motivated, you can feature their work in email updates and share it through your organization’s social channels.

Give their opinion. Many organizations regularly poll their members about issues large and small. What priorities should they focus on? What issues do people care about the most? Which t-shirt design do they prefer? When your supporters feel that you care about what they think, the feeling is likely to go both ways.

Recruit a friend. Nonprofits have been asking supporters to recruit friends and family via email since the dawn of the public Internet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it too. You might ask people to send friends to a high-value action or petition, or you might encourage them to invite their contacts to follow you on Facebook. Either way, you can ask via email.

Join a conference call. Cross-channel promotion means more than just digital: email can spark plenty of actions in the real world. Many nonprofits have deepened their connection with supporters by inviting them to join a conference call with other advocates, issue experts, or their senior leadership.

Host an in-person gathering. Conference calls can connect people in person when you use them as the hook for a house party. Political campaigns often use this tactic, typically combining it with a fundraising ask. As usual, try to make the hosting process as easy on your supporters as possible. Of course, you don’t need a conference call to have a party! Any time your supporters can meet in person, it’s likely to deepen their personal connection to your cause.

Visit a district office. Now we’re getting ambitious: rather than calling or emailing Congress, you can ask your advocates to meet with staff in the nearest district office. Likewise, you can encourage them to talk with local political officials when appropriate. Obviously, advocates will need to know what they’re talking about when they talk with elected officials and staff, making training an important part of the process. In-depth emails can help, along with online videos, conference calls, and webinars. Be sure to emphasize the importance of their own personal stories as they make their case.

Livestream from an event. Tools like Facebook Live have turned our smartphones into potential broadcast studios, and millions have livestreamed from concerts and rallies. Be sure to include basic instructions in your email asking supporters to livestream.