The Essential Relationship Between Advocacy & Digital Outreach

Advocacy organizations thrive or fail because of donations and support.  Lisa Barone, VP of strategy at, explains that the “goal of an outreach campaign is to bring awareness to something of value.” Creating a solid digital outreach plan requires an investment of time and resources, but the payoff can be worth the effort.

Most advocacy organizations aren’t as effective as they could be. With a digital outreach plan, your organization’s value can increase dramatically in the eyes of your supporters. These strategies also help organizations do more with the resources they already have.

We break down the key elements of a solid digital outreach plan and how best to apply them to your organization.

Strategize User Needs

For advocacy organizations, a strong content strategy can lead to increased mobilization for supporters. Effective strategy “intersects business goals with user needs,” according to Lisette Alvarez, Digital Strategist at WDG.  

When creating an outreach strategy plan, analyze your organization’s advocacy goals to identify the type of impact you are working towards. Are you affecting policy change, increasing donations, or strengthening activism? Because each advocacy organization has unique needs, capabilities, and recognition, the strategy team’s goal is to collaborate with the organization to create a targeted method for optimizing engagement.  

Once these goals are established, utilize proto personas and competitive analysis to identify your target audience and their engagement habits. Find out which platforms are most appropriate to connect with users and develop a relevant strategy with those insights in mind.

WDG’s work with Argentum allowed us to craft a strategy to maximize user engagement, better positioning their advocacy team to improve outreach to legislators and thought leaders on Capitol Hill.

Adopt a Content-First Approach

Advocacy organizations rely on real-time communication for messaging, branding, and promotion. Adopting a content-first approach is the ideal way to increase supporter involvement.

Content should be optimized for SEO, with relevant keywords, titles, and meta descriptions used to improve search engine rankings. Track resultant conversion rates using a free tool like Google Analytics, adjusting content as needed to increase conversions.

You should also carefully work with designers to ensure assets fit within the brand guidelines, layouts reflect maximum effectiveness, and content is up to date.

Multi-platform campaigns, including social media, should be a dynamic part of your content plan as well. Activism has seen an uptick recently due to social media; according to CNN, “Facebook is playing an increasingly important role in activism” with movements like the Women’s March on Washington.

To best reach a mobile-savvy generation of supporters, incorporate multimedia and social media integrations on a mobile-responsive design. This allows your organization to engage directly with target audiences during critical events as they arise.

Optimize User Experience

Advocacy organizations are often at higher risk of losing donations because of a negative user experience.

Unlike traditional businesses, advocacy groups aren’t selling a product. The primary goal is to sell an experience your supporters want to be a part of. How do you sell something as intangible as an idea? User experience. Sell a story, sell a brand, and sell involvement.  

Use action-oriented verbs in your call to actions and streamline the navigation structure to guide users towards donating. The design should include strategically placed involvement opportunities to attract talent, support, donations, and sponsors. Make sure users can find resources and information easily and quickly, and limit the amount of time and information required from users.

As Matthew Martindale, co-founder of GreatPositive explains, “The same way good UX drives more sales and customer loyalty for brands, good UX drives more ongoing support.” Supporters should be able to see how their donations directly impact the cause through content and imagery, as well as understand that the donation process is secure.

For TheDream.US, we created an easily navigable user experience which increased applications and funneled users to prime scholarship opportunities for a brighter future.

Use the Right Tools

There are many specialized tools that can be utilized to increase engagement with your advocacy site. See our breakdown of some of the most useful and popular integration possibilities:

  • CQ Roll Call is the only advocacy, federal legislative tracking, news, and analysis media company that connects supporters and organizations to every part of the policy process. Use CQ Roll Call to keep supporters up-to-date with major policy information.
  • Votility is an online platform used to bolster grassroots advocacy efforts by helping membership organizations and elected officials educate, organize, engage, and mobilize members of the public affected by legislation. Use Votility to maximize local engagement potential.
  • EveryAction is a unified CRM that empowers organizations and supporters with a massive variety of digital, fundraising, and organizing tools. Employ EveryAction for the broad versatility and applicability of their platform.
  • BSD Tools is a platform designed to facilitate community mobilization and fundraising with a highly adaptable, full suite of applications.
  • SalsaLabs is a CRM tool used for donor management, fundraising, advocacy, and marketing to fuel causes worldwide. Increase the impact of your mission with SalsaLabs.
  • Cvent is a SaaS company used for advocacy meetings management technology, including site selection, event registration, email marketing, and web surveys. Manage logistics with ease through Cvent.

Use a Flexible Content Management System

Choose a solid Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to support your real-time website and integration points with specific advocacy tools in mind. A CMS like WordPress or Drupal offers flexible layouts and modular development, meaning it is easy to manipulate, change, or update items in the backend for admins.  These also support third-party integrations with specific advocacy tools.

We leverage our expertise in WordPress and Drupal development to help advocacy organizations employ modular designs for flexibility, with a customizable framework to build unique solutions with creative features that can be extended to meet client demands. Both platforms support plugins and third-party search integration to provide robust search functions that allow users to tag, facet, filter, archive, and more, ensuring the most accurate results.

With these elements in place, your organization can ensure greater engagement, involvement, and support for important causes.  Whether grassroots or global, a solid digital outreach plan can bolster your advocacy efforts and expand your mission outreach.

Want to work with WDG’s expert strategists to craft the perfect digital outreach plan? Contact us today!


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