Building a Base with Pledges
Expanding on Sally’s post last month, Online Advocacy - Using Petitions for List Building, here are a few of my favorite nonprofit pledges. Unlike petitions, which are specifically political, pledges can promote any kind of action or invite general participation. Pledges can be a very effective outreach tool and the lists tend to be of a very high quality.
- CARE's "I Am Powerful" campaign from last year
- An "interactive monument" from the Anne Frank Museum (It’s also a nice screensaver)
- Amnesty International’s "Tear it Down" campaign against the detention facilities at Guantanamo
- "12 Months to Sustainable Good", a campaign microsite from Outreach International targeting students
Are pledges really just a smokescreen to gather emails?
I suppose they can be, but I think these examples demonstrate another possibility. Like any other nonprofit communication, your pledge has to be authentic. Just like newsletter subscriptions, these pledges act as tools to educate and engage, and serve as an entry point to broader participation.
To make your pledge work, you have to be prepared to respond to your signers' enthusiasm while it's fresh. If you have a stated goal, update them on your progress. If you can, tie the pledge into a broader campaign. But above all, make sure you're prepared to follow up signatures immediately with offers of other, deeper ways to engage with your nonprofit.
What can you genuinely ask for in a pledge, and what can you offer in return?
- Education: Elucidate the need you address and how supporters can contribute.
- Emotional Connection: Find common ground with potential supporters through your most compelling stories.
- Participation through Outreach: With a pledge, you give current supporters a reason and a means to share your mission with their friends and family, as well as a non-financial way to support your organization.
- Readiness: A pledge can help you build a base and keep your organization front of mind for the moment when a timely response is critical. Be clear in your pledge about your goals and about any communications the signer is opting in to.
Got any great pledges to share? Post them in the comments!
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