When it comes to advocacy, it feels silly to say that the most important thing is reaching the right folks with the right message at the right time, but it’s the truth. The key lies in the nuances of doing so effectively. This is exactly why we need to constantly innovate and uncover new ideas or ways to connect with people who can advance your organization’s mission. If the human mind was black and white, that would be one thing, but it is not, and so engaging advocates requires constant innovation.
Chris Masak, senior associate director of advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, joined Roz Lemieux, director of Blackbaud Labs, on a recent episode of The sgENGAGE Podcast to discuss innovations in advocacy programs. Having worked in advocacy for the Association for nearly 8 years, Chris has seen a lot of what the nonprofit sector has to offer as far as technology, opportunity, and strategy.
During the conversation, Chris touched on many interesting topics including identifying and targeting the right people, ways that new technologies can be leveraged, and how not being afraid of risk can lead to breaking the mold. Here are a few key tips from the conversation:
Always be thinking of new ways to incorporate our ever-developing technology. Things like virtual reality for instance, could play a pivotal role. Chris gives the following example: “Marching into a Senate office with a VR headset and trying to strap it to a senator might get security called. But the flip side is there might be opportunities for those kind of experiences. People virtually attending lobby days, so on and so forth.”
“We’re big proponents of what have you done for me lately,” Chris said. Pay attention to the folks who have taken action recently – people who have spoken out on an issue, shared a tweet, or even just clicked a button online in support. Statistically, they’re the ones that are going to take the action again or do the next thing on that list.
Leaving room for innovation:
My favorite part of the interview was when Chris said: “There’s been some ridiculous, or what seemed initially as ridiculous, tactics that I’ve learned, from a number of folks here, that ultimately when you look at it, they really broke the mold. They created a new set of best practices along the way. It’s really striking how sometimes, trying to go to the bleeding edge, if you don’t almost come full circle back to the stuff that’s been abandoned and just do away with it. A new spin. You can even have success there. One of the examples I always give is television ads. All the television ads got loud with loud music and visuals and manic and frantic editing and things like that. And then you occasionally see that one ad that is dead silent, text on a black screen and nothing else. It’s almost like when you buy a newspaper ad, it’s not really interactive. It doesn’t do anything like that. But that’s a jarring experience when you’re sitting at home because you’re like, did my TV turn off? And you look at it, pay it attention. So there’s some times you can take an old thing and put it in a new platform and still achieve success.”
Click here to listen to the full episode to hear everything Chris shared about innovating to engage more advocates to advance your cause.