Optimizing your nonprofit’s advocacy action alert doesn’t have to end with a supporter receiving a humble “thank you” from a thank you page or email. All too often, a tally is recorded and that’s the extent of online advocacy. But, what if we dig a bit deeper? This experience in online advocacy doesn’t have to yield this outcome.

In fact, we should be asking so much more than the standard questions:

What is our list size? How many can we get to take an action at a moment’s notice? How many are new because a friend shared the action alert on their social media account?

Online advocacy can be harnessed to drive measurable outcomes using various outcome indicators.

Google Analytics is one example of an outcome indicator. Google Analytics tells a story that you may not be seeing about your online advocates. Once this information is surfaced, your organization’s mission can be spread by asking your advocates to take action on your latest action alert. So, now you might be saying to yourself, “Tell me more. What do I need to do?”

Here is an example from the Humane Society of the United States. Once an action-taker completes their letter, a dual-purpose thank you page appears. This page serves to express thanks while inviting the supporter to take another action by donating to a very important issue, protecting baby seals. This donation form is fantastic because it isn’t a blatant donation ask, but rather a place where a supporter is invited to become further involved with the organization. They can share about their connection to the organization on social networks and/or via email or make a contribution. The financial contribution is secondary, located at the bottom of the page.

Humane Society's Advocacy Action Alert


Engaging supporters in online advocacy helps to cement relationships with your cause. If a person is already willing to take action, it’s likely that they are also willing to donate to create a sense of greater impact in supporting the issue at hand. All you have to do is present the opportunity.

5 Steps to Create a Strategic Action Alert:

Step 1: Use the Google Analytics URL Builder Tool

Copy your action alert link to your clipboard and use the Google Analytics URL Builder Tool to build a link to track visitors coming to your action alert when it is shared on various social networks. Please be sure to fill in as many fields as you can, along with the URL to your action alert for your Campaign Source (e.g. Facebook), Campaign Medium (e.g. Facebook+Share), Campaign Term (e.g. Action+Alert), Campaign Content (e.g. Protect+Seals), and Campaign Name (Stop+the+Seal+Hunt).

Notice I used the plus sign “+” between words. In Google Analytics, this adds a space to your words to track a phrase rather than words without spaces between them (think of how hashtags are used #ineedsomespaceshere).

Finally, you need to build a separate link for each social network you plan to build a link for, e.g. one for Facebook, one for Twitter, and one for email. You will only need to swap out the Campaign Source and Campaign Medium to make it apply to the social network that you are building this new link for.
Please note: Make sure you have your Google Analytics code on your donation form in order to make this tracking feature work.

Step 2: Go to Bit.ly or any other URL shortening service to shorten your link

Once you have hit the “Generate URL” button on the Google Analytics URL Builder Tool, you want to go to http://bit.ly or another URL shortening service to build a short URL for reaching this link. You will want to shorten your link because services like Twitter limit each tweet to 140 characters.

Step 3: Go to the Share Link Generator and generate your link for each social media service

Next, go to the Share Link Generator to create your links for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or even an email with pre-formatted content ready for sharing.

Step 4: Add the link to your image on your donation form

After you have your social sharing icons created, hyperlink each one to your custom links.

Pro tip: Be sure to make your links open in a new window or tab so that you don’t lose the traffic that just landed on this page.

Step 5: Measure your incoming links to your action alert using Google Analytics

Now that your links are setup, you must link this donation form as your “thank you page” for taking action on an action alert, or in the follow-up email from an action alert. Once your advocates begin responding to the alert, track the link in Google Analytics to find out who is visiting from your various social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Remember, these kinds of action alerts have the potential to help you start an online movement for your organization. Monitor who’s sharing and taking action so that you can thank them for using their voice.

Now that you have all of this working, you can repeat these steps for each and every advocacy campaign you embark on. You’ll find that setting up these links takes mere minutes after you get the hang of it. It will be “easy peasy, lemon squeezy.” So get out there and be the change you want to see in the world and empower your advocates to do the same!

advocacy CTA


Will was lucky enough to work with many Congressional offices on Capitol Hill and nationally recognized nonprofits in Washington, DC to manage their online and e-mail marketing campaigns as well as their social media and Web presence. He holds a Masters of Public Administration with a Concentration in Nonprofit Management from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nevada, Reno in Political Science with a Spanish Minor. He currently serves in the capacity of Internet Solutions Consultant, deploying new and existing clients as a product specialist for all things Luminate Online and Sphere platforms with some web development projects sprinkled in for fun.  His passion lies in all things politics, snowboarding, and gaming.  He is a husband and father of three young children working remote out of Reno, Nevada.

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