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The 3 smartest investments you can make if you want to grow your movement

If you’re a leader at a nonprofit, campaign, or advocacy organization, you know the pressures of needing to stretch limited resources.

The good news is there are a few surefire ways to get a return on investment.

Don’t purchase any advanced software or spend time fiddling around with a trendy social media platform until you’ve laid a solid foundation. Instead, focus your staff time and money on the following three tasks: getting the right systems and processes in place, getting people onto a list you own, and building a resilient pipeline. If you get these three things right, you’ll set your movement up to grow exponentially and safeguard it against changes in technology or politics.

Here are the three smartest investments any organization can make:

1. Getting the right systems and processes in place.

Start here. If you haven’t yet set up the basic infrastructure needed to communicate regularly with supporters, raise money, and grow your audience, this is where you need to spend your resources. This means purchasing and leveraging software that naturally supports your work, spending energy creating multi-channel campaign calendars, and dedicating staff time to building consistent communication and organizing habits.

One of the most common — and damaging — mistakes we see organizations make is to skip this step. If you don’t lay a solid foundation, everything you build is on shaky ground. For example, if you’re not sending regular emails to your supporters, you’re leaving money and activism on the table.

Leaders who haven't done this work often find it daunting and tend to put it off. The good news is that when you do commit, the payoff is often incredibly quick — one of our clients more than doubled their weekly grassroots fundraising total after the ACM Strategies team advised them to make a few small changes to systems and processes.

2. Getting people onto a list you own.

If you’re not doing so already, dedicate resources to getting supporters to opt into email or mobile messages.

Social media is rented land. Your message on social media — even if you have a massive audience — is always filtered through algorithms and politics. If your organization’s success depends on your presence on Facebook, TikTok, or another social media platform, you’re taking a dangerous risk.

Channels like paid TV and radio advertising can be cost-prohibitive, and earned media is often an unreliable way to consistently get your message across.

On the other hand, when you have a supporter’s email address and/or phone number and their permission, you can reach them directly, and on your terms, whenever you want. This doesn’t mean you should spam people — your message still needs to be genuine and good to get results.

If you’re building a long-term movement, growing your owned email and mobile lists is one of the safest bets you can make.

3. Building a resilient pipeline.

Once you’ve done the work of getting systems and processes in place and you have some supporters on a list you own, dedicate time and money to building a pipeline that will grow your movement by reaching the right people and turning supporters into activists.

Consider which audiences you’re not currently reaching, and how to go about reaching them. Then, think carefully about what the supporter journey looks like. How will you keep people engaged and get them to take the next step and become a donor, volunteer, or organizer for your cause?

Digital channels can be incredibly cost-effective at reaching the right people and moving them up the ladder of engagement to become activists. The most resilient pipelines aren’t dependent on any one acquisition source, and can be quickly adjusted when political circumstances change.

If you’re not sure where to start, or just need fresh eyes on your marketing or fundraising programs, we can help. Book a free, no-risk strategy call with us to get started.


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