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Organizational Management

Engaging Association Members in Advocacy Initiatives: 3 Tips

Author: Marlena Moore
February 13, 2024
🕑 4 min read

Associations both large and small have the power to bring members together and harness their collective voices for change. By creating advocacy initiatives, your association can empower members to contact policymakers and advocate for goals related to your association’s mission — allowing them to personally impact public policy and feel more connected to your association.

But whether you’re asking members to share a petition online or volunteer to go door-to-door canvassing, members must be actively engaged and motivated to participate. Use these strategies to boost member engagement in your association’s next advocacy initiatives.

1. Cater to Your Members’ Interests

Your advocacy initiatives should relate to your association’s purpose and what your members have in common. Highly relevant advocacy opportunities are more likely to engage members and convince them to take action. An education association, for example, should focus on issues and laws that directly affect teachers and schools. 

Ensure your initiatives are generally applicable to your member base, then go deeper to cater to the interests of specific groups. For instance, you might ask members the following questions to understand their interests, concerns, and preferences:

  • Which of the following issues are you most passionate about?
  • In what ways do you make an impact on your community?
  • What types of advocacy are you most interested in?
  • Are you willing to contact your local representatives?
  • If you could change one thing about [your association’s industry or cause area], what would it be?

With this information, you can segment your member base by their interests and send more tailored advocacy opportunities and communications. For example, you might create one segment of members interested in local advocacy and another group for those more interested in large-scale initiatives. Only promote relevant opportunities to each group, and record which advocacy initiatives receive the most engagement to improve future communications.

2. Write Clear, Compelling Calls to Action

When it comes to promoting your advocacy initiatives, your messages’ calls to action (CTAs) are the most important aspect. Tell members exactly what you want them to do with a concise, empowering statement that invites them to advocate for the causes they care about in a specific way.

Let’s say your healthcare association is inviting members to participate in a patient advocacy campaign by signing a petition that urges government officials to regulate the price of insulin. You might write a call to action along the lines of: 

Josephine can’t pay for her insulin, and neither can thousands of other members of our community. Show legislators you’ll fight for the rights of diabetic individuals by signing our petition here.

Along with a clear appeal, your advocacy messages should give members everything they need to take the specified action, including:

  • Information and educational resources about the issue
  • Reasons or stories that demonstrate why the issue demands urgent action
  • Clear next steps they can take to act
  • Links to petitions, sign-up forms, or social media posts to share
  • Instructions for how to invite other people to participate

Make it easy for members to participate in your advocacy opportunities by removing any barriers to action. For instance, don’t send a petition link that requires members to log in before signing, as this extra step could stop them from following through.

3. Use a Multichannel Strategy

Get your advocacy initiatives in front of a wider audience by spreading the word across all of your communication channels. At a minimum, these channels should include:

  • Your website: If you don’t already have a page on your association’s website about advocacy, create one and add it to your site’s navigation bar. Populate the page with information about the advocacy work your association does, how members can participate, and any actions you’re currently asking members to take.
  • Email: Email marketing is a powerful way to reach your members with urgent calls to action relating to your advocacy initiatives. Be sure to write subject lines that are direct and infused with urgency to encourage members to open your messages.
  • Social media: Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter) have become online hubs for social and political advocacy in recent years. Tap into these platforms’ potential by posting branded infographics and sharing petitions with your members.
  • Member portal: If your association offers a portal or app where members can find each other, join events, and discuss topics, leverage this tool for advocacy, as well. Create discussion forums for relevant issues or host exclusive information sessions that members can attend to learn more.

For even more visibility, consider cross-promoting by sharing blog posts on social media or highlighting a discussion from your member portal in an email. 

Once members engage with your advocacy initiatives, thank them for their participation and show members your appreciation in multiple ways. This may include sending thank-you messages, updating them on the progress of your advocacy campaign, or even gifting them branded merchandise like a sticker or t-shirt. The more that members feel they made a positive, genuine impact, the more likely they are to stay engaged in the future.

Engaging association members in advocacy is a crucial step towards achieving impactful change. To streamline your efforts, consider leveraging political campaign software like canvassing apps or digital outreach tools. Here at WildApricot we also have membership management software to help your organization automate and simplify membership tasks. By harnessing the power of technology, you can strengthen your advocacy initiatives, inspire meaningful action, and ultimately shape a better future for your members and the causes they champion.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot and boost event engagement with QR codes.

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