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The 4 Ws of Grassroots Advocacy

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on The 4 Ws of Grassroots Advocacy

Is your organization considering initiating a grassroots advocacy program, but not sure where to start? Learn the 4 W’s about grassroots advocacy efforts and how to get started!

 

What?

Grassroots advocacy is the process of communicating with the general public and asking them to contact their legislators on a particular issue. Generally, constituents are willing to contact their legislators, but most of them need encouragement. With an effective grassroots advocacy program, you inform them about the problem and ask them to be part of the solution. This tactic creates commitment and social mobilization based on a unified goal.

 

Why?

Did you know that a strong grassroots program can bring new supporters and members to your organization? With a strong grassroots advocacy program, you place your supporters at the forefront of the political discussion. By providing your supporters with information, you have the potential to effectively shape policy and the direction of your industry. Our representatives may not have the solutions for issues that are affecting their constituency if they are not hearing from their voters. With grassroots advocacy, you can communicate with representatives to start policy centered conversation. Grassroots advocacy only increases your bottom line and shapes your organization to become a powerhouse within your industry!

 

Where?

Grassroots advocacy is proven to be effective in all levels of government: local, state and federal! There are issues that affect the day to day lives of citizens at all levels of government. While federal level programs require the most amount of organization, you can influence the discussion on a national issue. On the other hand, at the local level, the issues are still important enough to create a grassroots advocacy program. Sometimes at the local level, the programs are most effective because they are issues that impact citizens day to day.

 

When?

Here are four times that your grassroots advocacy plan may be effective:

  • You want the public to contact their representatives about a certain issue within their districts
  • You want to raise awareness about an issue
  • You want to mobilize your membership
  • Your agenda will be boosted by the support of the general public

 

How?

Patch calls, Townhall Connect events, and letter writing campaigns are the easiest and most persuasive tools to mobilize your constituents. Connect and educate your base with a Townhall Connect event, then create an effective patch call and letter desk program to activate your targeted audience!

Think Local

Posted by on Mar 19, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Think Local

Calling our legislators has been a technique that has existed for almost as long as phones themselves. After the first phone was installed in the U.S. Capitol, due to the high volume of calls, the doorman asked for an assistant to answer constituent calls. In 1898, Congress purchased a 100-phone switchboard to deal with the influx of calls. Then, in the 1900s the call volume increased again, and congress maintained a staff of “Hello Girls” to manage the calls.

 

In all reality, citizens have the ability to participate in political life more often than they have the ability to vote. Short of showing up in person to a legislator’s office, phone calls are one of the most effective techniques for the voice of the population to be heard. However, a majority of people still need to be reminded of the importance of speaking to their legislators when there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Many Americans are ready to make their voices heard, but how do you get their legislators to hear them?

Patched phone calls are still one of the best ways for advocacy groups to get your legislators to hear constituents!

 

Why are Patch calls effective?

Legislative offices are not prepared for a high volume of calls, much less about the same issue. Therefore, these calls will inform the decision maker that their constituents are paying attention, that they care about a specific issue and would like a particular result.

 

Other forms, like social media activism and emails are easy to ignore, because a staffer will not sift through comments, and emails are easily deleted. A phone call is tangible. When you have a conversation on the phone, there is a real person, with a tangible story about how a particular issue may be impacting them in their district!

 

How do patch calls work?

Our patch call programs are data driven. We will work with you to identify the best targeted universe, and then draft an effective script. After identifying your supporters, our operators will coach them on talking points before connecting them to the legislator’s office. Our calls are continuously monitored for effectiveness, if needed, we can change the script to reach maximum performance.

Two Steps to Perfection

Posted by on Mar 15, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Two Steps to Perfection

Have you ever wondered why letters go through two rounds of edits with our Letter Desk product?

A first draft is never going to be perfect. Think of it as a guideline for the finished letters that we craft. We capture the opinions of the constituents, turn them into copy, and begin the process. The first draft is bound to have errors, but as they are edited and refined into unique final drafts.

The best editors understand production and have a depth of knowledge in politics and the legislative process, which allows them to see the bigger picture. Our editors make the unique copy better every time they touch it.

But what are the essential qualities for a great letter editor?

 

They need a broad scope of knowledge.

We require our editors not only to have a broad understanding of the political and legislative process, but also to have a solid grasp of the editing process. Our editors are not only responsible for catching spelling and grammar mistakes but also, they are responsible for correcting clarity and flow. Each editor understands that they must maintain each constituent’s unique voice, while emphasizing the issue at hand.

 

Creativity

Did you know our editors edit at least 10 letters each per day? While each letter may not match the editor’s style of writing, our editors understand the author’s voice and message are the most important elements to maintain throughout the editing process. Therefore, our editors tap into their creative flow to uphold the integrity of each letter.

 

Preserve authors voice

The voice of each constituent drives the messaging style within each letter. Therefore, up front, we ask two or three questions to the constituent to understand their perspective. During the last step of our editing process, our Master Editor guarantees that we have captured the tonality of the constituent while still addressing the overall message.

 

Thorough

Editors are going to spend a lot of time pouring over your work. They are more likely to pick up on the details the copywriter missed. With a sharp eye for detail, our editors are going to adjust grammar, spelling, tone, and flow to craft the best final draft for each letter. After all, each editor sees the big picture, and is willing to above and beyond to help you create change!

 

Focused on author goals

Overall, the best editor is the kind that can take a small message and make it powerful. A great editor has the uncanny ability to see the impact of the story that you are trying to tell, and help the author reach their goal. All of our editors understand the difference between a constituent letter and a professionally written letter. They understand the importance of an organic grassroots effort to influence legislation. Therefore, the editors maintain each constituent’s unique voice while allowing the overall message shine through.

The Art of Influencing Legislation

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on The Art of Influencing Legislation

 

Letter writing campaigns have the potential to mobilize a large group of constituents to voice their opinion about a specific issue. A well-timed, informed and clearly written letter writing campaign can have significant influence on political decisions. Utilizing our Letterdesk product in tandem with our Patch Calls has proven to be an effective strategy to achieve your public policy goals!

 

A little planning goes a long way.

The key to success in any letter writing campaign is volume — to demonstrate a meaningful level of constituent concern to the elected official.  A legislator must take into consideration the needs and interests of the constituents within their district. Oftentimes, elected officials will pay more attention to a letter signed by a constituent than an email communication from them.  A signed letter reflects that the constituent went to considerable effort to express their view. That signals the elected official that this constituent is engaged and likely to vote.

 

Think outside of the box.

Collective participation raises awareness.  But do you know who actually supports your issue?  Don’t worry, we will help you target the voter data that is most likely to support your cause.  Below is an example of how our creative data experts have assisted clients:

FLS’s Data Reserve Team cross-referenced public voter data with public campaign donation reports for targeted State Senators to help our client build a unique universe of voters who are supporters of the targeted State Senators. These unique universes urged wavering Senators to vote against new state sales taxes.  This micro-targeted method helped our client prevent the passage of a new sales tax proposal in the State Senate.

 

Less is more.

Keep your letter writing campaign focused on what is most important.  We ask every letter signatory 2-3 questions, so we can represent the constituent’s point of view. Then our unique program will utilize their responses to create draft letters. The letter will then be carefully vetted by an Editor and a Master Editor prior to mailing to the constituent.  Each of our in-house Editors has an extensive background in politics and understands the difference between writing a professional letter and a letter from a constituent.  Each letter is authentic, brief and tailored to the targeted official.  Our unique letters combine our client’s messaging with the constituent’s view point, ensuring an organic, grassroots effort.

 

Timing is key.

Is your campaign part of a long-term project or an urgent situation? The key is to time your letters before decisions are made, so that letters arrive when a vote on the issue is imminent. Letter writing campaigns are easy, effective and most importantly persuasive. What are you waiting for?

Redefining Communication

Posted by on Mar 6, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Redefining Communication

I’m going to let you in on a secret: our society is turning into a mobile first generation. Think about it: how many times do you reach for your phone instead of your computer to complete a task? I know I do. It’s just so convenient.

People have an increased expectation that your organization exists on social channels and have a mobile responsive website. Therefore, we can evolve our organization communications by utilizing texting to spread our message.

 

Texting is personal.  

Even in 2019, we still correlate texting as a part of personal communications. It’s personal, quick, and convenient. You bring your organization to a peer to peer relationship with your audience. Text messages are commonly associated with personal messaging, they are more likely to be acknowledged. With texting, you decrease the communication barrier with your organization making it more accessible, boosting your relationships with your audience.

 

Texting makes your organization convenient.  

Texting is inherent in our regular communications because it’s a native application on our phone. We don’t have to download, install or configure anything, making it an accessible environment. As an organization, we can harness this convenience because people are naturally more receptive to a text message. More and more, people are making choices to interact based on the convenience factor. People may even come to prefer your organization because it’s convenient.

 

Texting helps your organization stand out.  

Texting allows our messages to become fully mobile. In fact, it offers the tools for your organization to stand out from its competitors. Texting allows a whole new experience for your audience to interact with your message. In fact, since texting is versatile, you can easily differentiate your message based on that person’s preferences. In addition, you are empowering your audience since you have opened a way for you to interact with your audience and your audience to interact with you.

 

Texting is an easy, affordable communication option to enhance your omni-channel messaging strategy. It’s is an easy tool to take advantage of and can have a surprising impact for your organization!

Fundraising’s Secret Weapon: Data Analytics

Posted by on Feb 15, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Fundraising’s Secret Weapon: Data Analytics

 

First of all, understanding data does not need to be intimidating. In fact, understanding the meaning behind your data can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

 

But how exactly do I extract meaningful insights from my data, and utilize them to inform my future fundraising strategy?

 

Actually, the answer is deceptively simple. If you have a question, test it, and figure out what happened. Does that remind you of something?

 

Yes! Every day we use the Scientific Method to find actionable insights for fundraising programs. This method really allows us to identify relationships and understand the links behind those relationships. Sounds complicated, right?

 

Well, let’s break it down.

 

First, we need to ask a question.

 

What is the value of my donors over their lifetime? What is my donor retention rate? What are the costs related to acquiring a new donor compared to their lifetime value?

 

We are trying to tell a story based on an observed relationship. What story are you trying to tell? Asking a question helps us focus the discussion to improve our program.

 

Next, we need to do some background research.

 

Actually, this step is relatively simple, and maybe you’ve already done it. You have probably been tracking your donor data. By doing a historical analysis on our data, we can start to understand past trends within our organization.

 

Okay, now we are ready to make an educated guess to answer our question.

 

Based on the past performance of my program, I can increase the my donor retention by 5% this year.

 

Remember that we are just creating an educated guess based on the trends within our program. We need an educated prediction, so we have the ability measure the results from our experiment. Don’t worry if you are initially wrong!

 

Now, it’s time to test.

 

Build a mathematical model to test the effectiveness of your new strategy. What are the observable results?

 

Let’s draw a conclusion.

 

So, what were the results of your test? Did they match your hypothesis? Maybe, just maybe, we are ready to put an initial strategy into place. Maybe, we need to go back and retest. Whatever the answer, you are now primed to tell a story. We are telling the story of our data to understand and adjust our donor experience to maximize results.

 

Finally, share your results.

 

Data compliments the decision making process, and start’s new discussions about your program. Fundamentally, data is used for measuring and monitoring performance. We use it to create context for our program, and experiment to understand the impact of our decision.

 

Complex issues happen. But, don’t let the challenge of understanding data limit the potential of your fundraising program.  Are you ready to discuss the numbers?

 

The Power to Forecast Future Revenue

Posted by on Feb 12, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on The Power to Forecast Future Revenue

 

This week, we are answering the question:

 

From Start to finish, how much revenue will a donor contribute to your organization?

 

So, let’s start to unpack that question.

 

By building a cycle of giving, you are able to retain donors to maximize the potential within your fundraising program. But, what’s the value of retaining these donors? Can we even assign a dollar value to donor retention?

 

That’s where Life Time Value (LTV) comes into the equation. With LTV, we are able to quantify the value of a donor relationship over the lifetime of their giving. Quite literally, we are able to build a prediction of the dollar value of a new donor relationship based off of your unique historical donor data.

 

So, why is calculating LTV important?

 

Remember, LTV is a predicted lifetime dollar value of a donor relationship. This number provides immediate insight into the overall health of your fundraising program, and will highlight the specific areas of opportunity that exist within your program.. Some donor types have a higher Life Time Value than others. It gives you the ability to maximize your potential of your fundraising program.

 

For example, the Life Time Value of a multi-channel donor is THREE times greater than a single channel donor.

 

So, how accurate is the lifetime value of a donor anyways?

 

Please note that LTV is nothing more than a prediction of the value of a donor relationship. Meaning, the more data you input into your lifetime value equation, the more accurate your predictions are.

 

            When Lifetime Value is calculated over a 5 to 8 year period, an organization will gain reliable metrics with forecasting future revenue. – Joey Faul, Deputy Director of Fundraising

 

That’s great. But, how can we relate acquisition costs to Lifetime Value?

 

The first contribution from a donor can be the start to a long relationship. We may acquire our donors from calling, mailing, texting, emailing and digitally. Keep in mind that acquisition channel matters.

 

Phone inception donors are 1.5 TIMES more likely to become multi -channel donors than digital or mail inception donors.

 

We can actualize the cost of acquisition and now compare it to the long term benefit of the donor. The rate of thoughtful appeals across multiple channels will improve your LTV.

 

            The value of a new donor is largely in control of the fundraising steward of each organization. – Joey Faul, Deputy Director of Fundraising

 

So, will you use a Lifetime Value analysis to drive your donor acquisition strategy?

Two Fundamental Needs: Fundraising and Food

Posted by on Feb 7, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Two Fundamental Needs: Fundraising and Food

 

Eating lunch this week, it suddenly hit me. Fundraising and cooking are basically the same concept. Maybe you don’t believe me yet, but let me explain.

 

Overall, why are cooking and fundraising alike anyways? Both cooking and fundraising are fundamentally about understanding a process. Exact measurements are not needed. Meaning, in fundraising, there’s definitely not a one sized fits all approach. In fact, once you understand the skills, qualities and processes with fundraising you can apply them to get a consistent offering.

 

So, let’s talk about building our fundraising dinner party:

 

First we have to prep the ingredients:

-Our budget

-Our organization

-Our goals

 

Our budget calls for us understanding the fundamental needs of our organization. We look for opportunities to maximize our potential each new year.

 

Our organization calls for us to understand our audience and their inherent needs and desires. This focus allows our small donors to continually send feedback to the organization, allowing us to optimize each donor’s potential.

 

Our goals are the foundation of the relationships we foster outside for our organization. Ultimately, our goals are the building blocks for success. Our message resonates with donors. Your best organization ambassadors will promote your fundraising efforts.

 

Next step, who are we inviting to the dinner party?

 

Our invites to our fundraising party allow us to rapidly add as many new donors as possible, before transitioning them into a regular cycle of giving. We have to think about what our guests want. Have they made it clear to us through other conversations? Are our guests open to a dialogue? With a little preparation, we know what messaging we are able to start with to have a successful fundraising program.

 

Following your fundraising recipe (somewhat):

 

First, the longer we practice the basics and methods the faster they are going to become second nature. After crafting your recipe, you have to taste test with your friends to make sure you are getting it just right. Take the feedback, and adjust as necessary. As you invigorate the recipe with fresh conversations, you understand the donor relationships, and the value of these individuals. Lastly, sprinkle in facts and figures; let your dinner guests know exactly what is going on within your organization. Transparency is key.

 

Seek to understand your rating.

 

Did you truly listen to your donor feedback? We have to continually adjust the ingredients within our fundraising program as we learn the successes and failures. With success, you’ll be able to keep your donors coming back, and truly communicate to who is making a difference in the bottom line for your organization.

 

Lastly, what are the qualities of a good fundraising chef?

  • A good chef is knowledgeable. They seek to understand who their targeted audience is, their needs and desires, and figure out what issues and causes they truly support.
  • A good chef is diligent: they continually seek feedback to adjust their recipe and ingredients as needed
  • A good chef is always flexible. Sometimes adjustments need to be made in the delivery format, the process or the time table. Are you willing to adjust to maximize your net dollars?

Why Fundraising Matters

Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 in Perspectives | Comments Off on Why Fundraising Matters

 

When I asked the question: Why does fundraising matter? The most common answer I got was: It’s necessary.

 

But why?

 

Fundraising fuels an organization.

 We need money to run our organizations, campaigns and our lives.

 It’s a means to an end.

 

So, let’s back up for just a moment. Our attitude effects the culture of our organization, and culture is pervasive. With the current sentiment, we are treating fundraising like it’s a dead end hallway. It’s necessary, but we don’t like it.

 

All of our organizations need funds to survive- dare I say thrive? So it’s time to change the way we talk about fund development. Let’s talk about five fresh views for fund development in 2019.

 

Fresh conversations bring fresh perspective.

 Fund development means consistent conversations with your supporters. Day in and day out, your organization gets the opportunity to understand the needs and wants of your supporters. In effect, you are gaining knowledge on positives, negatives and pain points within the public.

As an organization, you have to cut through the noise of the public, the media, and policy makers to enact change. Without understanding the wants immediately, it’s nearly impossible to effectively spread your cause.

 

In real time, you get to broadcast your message, gauge public interest,… and gain a pulse on the nation.

– Marc Ergang, Vice President

 

 

The backbone of your campaign is your supporters.

 

Maybe it’s obvious, but your supporters are the top ambassadors for your organization.

 

AND…

 

Fund development is critical to the health of your organization.

 

Donors often burn out when they cannot see the value of their impact for the organization. With an effective fund development program, your organization can show that impact in a tangible way.

So, in 2019,  conversations that link the philanthropic mission and fund development are critical- even necessary.

 

Build a system of giving.

 

Think about the choices you are currently making with your fundraising program. Is your program built on habit or strategy? Are your appeals consistently moving donors to give?

 

Your donor management system needs constant attention. From continually working to add new donors to your base, to talking to recurring donors, you have to give each piece of donor management system time and attention.

 

It’s not easy to strategically target new donors, manage your base, and continually analyze your message for effectiveness.

 

This year,  take command of the fundraising choices that you make. Don’t cheat your organization with non-strategic action.

 

 

If you are not taking advantage of all the fundraising opportunities that are available, then you are knowingly making the decision to limit the potential of your campaign or organization.

-Kari Stratton Janes, Managing Director of Client Services

 

 

Exert your influence on public opinion.

 

How exactly does an organization cut through the noise to influence the public?

 

In real time, your fund development program helps you gain a pulse on the nation. Not only will you be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your message, but you will be consistently able to improve your messaging based on your feedback from your donors.

 

With effective messaging, you will be able to cut through the noise to sway all channels: the public, the media, and policy makers.

 

 

Fundraising is the most effective investment that your organization can make.

 

Overall, pairing a strategic fundraising program with your mission is the most effective way to grow your organization in 2019. Listen to your donors, test your messages and build your system of giving. All in all, with this new mindset, go enact the change you want to see this year.

 

It’s Now or Never

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Perspectives | Comments Off on It’s Now or Never

Maximize your remaining resources and turn out your supporters! Phones are flexible, affordable and they WORK! We have the capacity to handle your programs and we can turn them around within hours with no set-up fees. GOTV is critical and will make or break a tight race. Phones can boost turnout by at least 10% in every age and propensity demographic.

For voice calls, your universe can be split up between landline and mobile phones. For $300, your campaign has the ability to touch nearly 7,000 voters! Turnout calls are highly effective – read our recent Case Study on how calling mobiles boosted turnout in Pennsylvania. Placing multiple rounds of calls to your turnout universe in the last days of an election is always a good idea.

Text programs can be done in the last few days. It’s been proven that text programs have the ability to lift turnout 10% in a statewide primary by sending just 3 text messages. Text benefits:

  • 90% of voters read their texts within 3 minutes of sending one.
  • Texting offers 4x the click-thru-rate of email and 16x the conversion rate.
  • In a single day, we can deploy over 30 million messages.
  • All our platforms comply with all FCC and TCPA rules, including our peer-to-peer texting platform.

Read our quick Case Study on a recent Special Election in Ohio that utilized texts.

Call us (855) FLS-4320 or email KC Jones Dennehy at kcjones@flsconnect.com to get started.

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