Supporters

SUPPORTERS

Your most powerful supporters don’t need more information – they need an invitation to do something big. Asking people to simply make a donation or sign a petition is no longer enough for that small, but powerful segment of volunteers who want to do more: super advocates!

 

Super advocates, volunteers, ambassadors, or whatever you might call them, are the most committed to an organization’s cause, and live on the top rungs of the engagement ladder. Like any elite group, their numbers are usually small compared to your full universe of supporters, but their value is immense.

 

Because super advocates offer the depth of organizing often times lost in the era of mobilization, we’ve written a comprehensive resource about how a nonprofit can develop a program to leverage one of their most powerful assets to deliver their mission.

What super advocates can do for your nonprofit:

  • Raise money from friends and family
  • Share or create content or videos on social media
  • Host or organize local events such as house parties or rallies
  • Lobby elected officials in person (either locally or by coming to lobby days in DC or state capitals)
  • Text supporters about volunteer activities
  • Speak to local media or at events on your organization’s behalf

Many nonprofits have considered starting a super advocate program for their top volunteers, but aren’t sure where to start. Our guide shows how these programs work, the benefits expected, the resources they consume, and the kind of institutional commitment they require. We’ll also take a look examples of how other nonprofits have invested in their top supporters and created programs.

Every nonprofit has a donor continuum—the journey they want their donors to take from that first gift (or even first enquiry) to becoming a committed donor and potentially even making a bequest to the organization. Yet sadly, too many donors aren’t progressing along the continuum; in fact, they are jumping off almost as quickly as they get on.

We have to lead the way.

Every time I hear a fundraiser respond to a question by saying, “Oh, that’s on our website; they can learn all about it there” or “That’s in the welcome brochure we sent out,” I cringe. It’s time to accept the reality that donors aren’t going to come to us; we have to go to the effort of meeting them where they are and then helping them progress—at their own pace—along our continuum.

Here are three things we must start doing:

1. We thank them for their gifts – but not just in a way that allows us to check “send receipts” off a long to-do list. We do it in a way that the donor is not only thanked, but he or she feels thanked.

 

2. We actually deliver information to the donor; we don’t just expect them to search out what they want to know. We tell them what a difference their gift made. We show them photos and tell stories so they can visualize the good things they made possible. Over time, they may seek out this information on their own, but we should never assume they are interested enough to discover it on their own.

 

3. We take their comments and complaints seriously. We may not be able to change something to be the way they’d like it to be, but we can at least listen and respond. Simply acknowledging a person’s concern can go a long way in building a growing relationship.

 

Yes, everything I have listed here costs money. But let’s say a donor now feels thanked, informed and heard. Could that result in another $25 or $50 donation this year? Could it move them another step or two along the donor continuum instead of just letting them leap off after a single gift or two? In the long run, isn’t the time it takes to thank, inform and listen to our donors worth a few dollars to receipt them, send them a newsletter and respond to them?