If you’ve been trained as a communicator, fundraiser, marketer, or organizer, tapping into fear, anger, and outrage is probably second nature. Fear, anger, and outrage are motivating, and it’s often useful to help people channel their negative emotions into productive action, whether that’s making a donation or taking a real-life action.
There’s a reason so many political fundraising emails strike a negative tone — stoking outrage can definitely help you make a quick buck. But negativity isn’t the only way to persuade people and make them feel things.
And in the heated and reactionary world of 2023, if you’re stoking unnecessary fear, anger, and outrage, you’re doing all of us a disservice.
At ACM Strategies, we help leaders and organizations build sustainable long-term movements. If you’re someone who needs your supporter audience to stick with you longer than a single political cycle, you can’t afford to burn them out. Frankly, being angry all the time is exhausting. If you’re constantly playing up negative feelings, your supporters will either opt out or tune you out. In either case, you’re losing the opportunity to build a long-term, meaningful relationship with them.
No matter how dire things are, it’s vital that advocacy organizations don’t ONLY message when things are bad. Hope — the hope that change is possible — is an essential part of any progressive movement. It’s your job to make sure that hope stays alive.
Here are three ways you can intentionally bring more hope and joy into your marketing and fundraising communications, even when you’re in an uphill battle:
1) Identify and name small, achievable milestones.
When you’re working on something as big and all-encompassing as saving our habitable planet or restoring pregnant people’s right to bodily autonomy, it might feel like your day-to-day work is barely moving the needle. That’s why it’s important to break down your big mission into small, achievable goals. Though most visionary organizations have done this work internally, many of them forget to message externally about their small goals and victories.
Try messaging about your monthly volunteer sign-up goal or your quarterly fundraising goal. Let your supporters know you have a bite-sized, achievable goal in mind, and that they can help you get there. “Achievable” is the key word here. You don’t want your supporters to have their motivation clouded out by overwhelm. Let them know that this is challenging, but together you can make it happen.
Send regular progress updates and give people a variety of ways to support the cause (i.e. don’t only ask for donations if sending a testimonial or sharing a link with a friend will also be helpful).
Do everything you can to keep hope alive and help people feel bought in. You want to create the feeling of a community that people want to be a part of.
Then, when you’ve accomplished that bite-sized goal, celebrate your victory!
2) Intentionally seek out things to celebrate in your marketing.
This is one of the biggest mistakes we see visionary leaders make. When you’re laser-focused on your mission, you often zoom right past celebration-worthy moments and into the next fight.
The world needs more celebration. If you’re on the fence about whether something is worth celebrating, you should probably celebrate it. Take the time to celebrate both internally and in your external communications. Your audience appreciates knowing they contributed to a victory!
When you hit a bite-sized goal, celebrate it!
When you hire an awesome new staff member who will get you closer to achieving your organization’s mission, celebrate it!
When it’s a key leader’s birthday, celebrate it!
When there’s a good news hit about something you’re working on, claim it as a victory and celebrate. Tell your audience it’s a win and a result of the work they support. For example, we work with an organization that has a goal of raising the federal minimum wage. When a study came out that showed a higher minimum wage creates jobs and grows the economy, our client shouted that data from the rooftops! This study dispels one of the most pervasive myths about raising wages. Though this news itself isn’t going to magically put more money in workers’ pockets, it’s a victory that researchers and the press are amplifying data that supports raising the federal minimum wage.
Don’t zoom past opportunities for joy. Make celebration a part of your workflow.
3) Say thank you.
Gratitude is so important in long-term movement building. If your campaign or organization has asked for money or another kind of support, don’t forget to acknowledge and express loads of gratitude to the people who gave.
If you have a victory to celebrate, say “thanks” to the people who helped you win it. Let them know what their investment in the recent past is making possible today!
If you want to create a sustainable culture of giving, you need to make it as simple, enjoyable, and fulfilling as possible for people to give every time. The reality is that not enough organizations say thank you in a memorable and consistent way, so when you do send a thoughtful message of gratitude, people will remember it.
Not sure how this looks for your organization? Need more specific guidance? My team and I can help you build a more sustainable movement while giving you hours of your valuable time back. You can book a free strategy call at this link.