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Using Advocacy to Transform Engagement

Advocacy matters to your organization more than you might realize. By becoming a fundraising activist, your organization’s cause and bottom line might benefit greatly.

    Can you answer these questions about your organization’s advocacy efforts and fundraising?

  • What is worth more, a postcard action or a one-off donation of $25?
  • If a local volunteer leaves but sets up a regular gift in support of your work instead, is that worth more or less to your organization?
  • Can you prove that people who campaign with your organization stay financially active for longer? And how does their “lifetime activism value” compare with an activist who does not give money?
    In as ession “How Advocacy Can Transform Engagement” at an AFP Toronto Congress, Ruth Ruderham, director of development at Prince’s Trust International in the U.K., offered the following advice:

  • Get your systems and processes right.
  • Think long-term not short-term, integrity not gimmicks.
  • Disprove misconceptions in your own context: Small results go a long way.
  • Agree on how to measure activism.
  • Whatever you do, do something.
  • Stay within the law.

For successful activist fundraising, Ruderham advised being creative and aiming high. To illustrate, on March 5, 2014, Greenpeace in Chile had an inspired advertising awareness campaign in protest over mining corporations’ building on or near glaciers and causing damage. It created a new “country” (Republica Glaciar) that issues its own “passports” and encourages people to become “citizens.” Within its first 10 days of “independence,” more than 40,000 people had signed up to become citizens by pledging their allegiance online (

    In addition, Ruderham said:

  • See the opportunities in the problems;
  • Fully integrate across the organization;
  • Build momentum toward the ask;
  • Have a relentless focus on public engagement; and,
  • Have fun.

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