There’s no better spokesperson for your mission than a happy supporter. I believe that. Nothing.

Relationships and networking will always be central to effective fundraising and mission advancement, and for that reason I believe that mobilizing word-of-mouth through advocate marketing can be an effective strategy for nonprofits, especially in the social world we live today.

I know first-hand. You see, I manage the Blackbaud Champions program here at Blackbaud. Champions is our VIP community of customer advocates that are actively engaged in sharing their experiences with their peers about partnering with Blackbaud.

Blackbaud Champions

We provide an exchange of value in our advocate marketing program. For example, a happy customer might provide a referral, a reference, a review, a social share, case study, or participate in beta testing. In turn, we always say ‘thank you’ for their time and contribution in a variety of meaningful ways, whether through a VIP experience, influence, empowerment, recognition, or tangible reward.

Advocate marketing is a win:win because it enables us to keep our ear in tune to the voice of our customers and theirs to ours in a mutually respectful and beneficial way.

Is your organization actively mobilizing advocates that help advance your mission? If not, you may be looking past your most powerful (and cost effective) marketing strategy!

Here are five ideas from an Advocate Marketer for strategically mobilizing advocates for your cause:

1. Start an advocate program for your supporters.

An established advocate program is a great way to keep your supporters engaged long-term and your cause front-of-mind throughout the year outside of events and appeals. Make the program fun, creative, and compelling. Make it valuable and an exclusive group your supporters want to be a part of. Have a staff person that dedicates time to overseeing the program. Invite your supporters to partner with you in something bigger than themself and make it about helping more people for your mission and building stronger community with your brand and with each other.

2. Ask supporters to refer you to friends and family.

From school, to places of worship, to the gym or coffee shop, to professional organizations, and social media, your supporters are in meaningful places you can’t always be. Arm your supporters with creative ways to evangelize on your behalf and make it easy for them to invite their friends and family to join them in supporting your cause.

nonprofit advocates

3. Encourage supporters to write an online review.

This could be on Guidestar, Charity Navigator, or other charity review site. I wouldn’t buy a product off Amazon that has a 1 or 2 star review because people’s experience with that product is subpar, nor would donate to a charity that those who came before me had a poor experience with. Donors are doing their homework more online today than ever, on social networks and third party sites. A positive review can go a long way in impacting the impressions of prospective donors.

4. Invite feedback from your best supporters.

What did they like? What could be improved next year? Did your message come across authentically to your target audience? Your best advocates will provide you constructive feedback because they want to see you be successful. They will also feel valued and more engaged because you asked for their opinion.

5. Share your content and build buzz.

Have a great report related to your cause that you want to get in as many hands as possible? Put it in the hands of your advocates to share with their networks and help with distribution. People are much more likely to listen to their trusted peers than from a brand or an advertisement, plus this can achieve better results at a lower cost.

I hope the wheels are starting to turn for you about the implications of mobilizing advocates for your mission. You see, all organizations have supporters, but not all organizations delight their existing supporters in to an army of advocates.

Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards – Jay Baer, author of Youtility

In the word-of-mouth dominated social world we live, where we’ve become skeptical of what advertisements tell us; don’t be afraid of tapping in to the potential that exists within the passion, loyalty, and experience of your existing supporter base. They have stories to tell, so give them a platform. Go ahead; your supporters are waiting on you.

How are you mobilizing advocates to help you advance your mission? Share in the comments below.

Our customers rock here at Blackbaud.

So much so that Influitive named Blackbaud Champions The Best Referral Program! 

Blackbaud’s customer and friend, Charles Staley, Director of Technology at Central Catholic High School, was also presented with The Above and Beyond Advocacy Award. recognizing him for going above and beyond to empower and train staff, advocate for Blackbaud in his networks, and embrace social responsibility. Check out the eBook to learn best practices from all of the winners!

influitive bammies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Beahm is Customer Advocate Marketing Manager at Blackbaud and manages the Blackbaud Champions program. In his spare time, Michael is husband, father of two boys, runner, and a coffee-holic. Connect with him on twitter @mabeahm.

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