Online Organizing Confessions... | npENGAGE

Online Organizing Confessions…

By on Mar 4, 2013


…from a former grassroots organizer.

Before joining the world of online marketing and advocacy at Blackbaud, I was a grassroots organizer.  That means I spent lots of time traveling from city to city and hosting events.  I’d coordinate panel discussions, movie screenings, and neighborhood canvas days.  I had a clipboard with me at most times and a roll of masking tape, chart paper, and a camera within arm’s reach during my waking hours.  These were the tools of my trade.

Now that I spend more time in Blackbaud’s DC offices and a bit less tabling and canvassing, I often notice how similar the offline and online organizing worlds really are.  Here are a few lessons I learned during my days as an offline organizer which apply to our work as online fundraisers, marketers, and advocates:

Get personal.

If a donor was engaged by a specific campaign or person, try to maintain that relationship through your online marketing efforts.  This goes for a major donor ask, an email sign-up after a community event, or engagement through social media.  Don’t forget to customize the communication you have with housefile members so they feel like valued advocates and donors, not recipients of a mass email.

Bring the offline online, and the online offline!

It is easy to forget about the importance of pounding the pavement and incorporating offline, face-to-face tactics in your organizing efforts when living in the world of online marketing.  Alas, it is the combination of in person communications and online marketing that is the secret to a successful fundraising or advocacy campaign.  This is also true for bringing the offline online – so be sure to collect email addresses when tabling at conferences or hosting panel discussions or other events.  This way, you can grow your housefile while leveraging the power of an in-person connection, too.

Remember that peer-to-peer means just that… PEER to PEER.

When a donor makes a contribution through a team fundraising or peer-to-peer campaign, they’re not expecting to be thrown in to your larger housefile without notice.  Put these folks in a special group and treat ‘em that way, as they came by your organization through a personal connection to friend of family member.  Consider easing peer-to-peer donors into your larger housefile with targeted communications following up on the specific event that involved them, or coach your volunteer fundraisers on follow-up messaging to bridge this gap!

What other overlap have you seen? Leave a comment or two and let me know how you bring face to face messaging tactics to your online organizing efforts.


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