5 online engagement ideas for nonprofits

Writing for Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, Kerri Karvetski offers up some creative ideas that can help nonprofits engage their audiences online.

1. Ask artists to illustrate

As part of a larger hashtag campaign, invite an artist or artists to illustrate your supporter’s thoughts submitted online. Or devise a more focused campaign for illustrators to share original ideas and thoughts through art – like this UNICEF campaign.

2. Make a reading list

Curate your own list relevant for your supporters, while encouraging them to share their own through your social media channels.

3. Story contests

Karvetski suggests launching a six-word story contest for small digital spaces, such as Twitter. Other writing-related contests centred around short stories longer than six words, or poetry, could also spur engagement. UNICEF’s ‘Tiny Stories’ campaign is a great example.

4. Bumper sticker contest

Invite your supporters to submit bumper sticker ideas, then choose the best ones and ask your supporters to vote for their favourites. Supporters can then order their favourite bumper stickers via a small donation.

5. Instagram contest

Invite your supporters to spread the word about your cause through a 30-day Instagram campaign, complete with an engaging hashtag. A theme can be posted and shared each day, and supporters can post original images reflecting that theme, and using the campaign’s hashtag. You could even select winners each week or at the end of the campaign, awarding them with appropriate prizes.

Featured photo: http://klarititemplateshop.com/, Flickr Creative Commons

Developing your advocacy strategy: Three questions to ask

In previous posts, I explored to definition of advocacy and the foundation areas for an effective advocacy strategy. But what is the very first action you should take in developing your strategy? Writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Jim Shultz stresses that organization’s need to first ask themselves three essential questions.

1. What do you want?
Deciding what you want – what impact or outcomes you want to achieve – requires some serious analysis. This begins with clarifying the deeper problem you are trying to solve and what you think it will take to solve it. As a result, you may find the you have big ambitions. But as Shultz notes, “these grand solutions are almost never initially within political reach, and organizations need to make strategic choices about what to fight for in the shorter-term”.

2. What does the political map look like?
Shultz stresses: “You wouldn’t make a move on a chessboard without studying where the pieces are, and you shouldn’t set off on an advocacy campaign without looking hard at the political map involved.” Mapping out the politics can include looking into who has authority and influence at different levels of government, as well as the political processes and structures that may affect your strategy. Having a good understanding of the context and dynamics will ensure that you adapt your strategy in the right and most effective way.

In addition, I contend that you should also explore the socioeconomic and sociocultural context when addressing this question. These aspects are linked to the political map and can significantly affect the implementation of your strategy.

3. What will you do?
Once you understand what you want and what context you are working in, you need to define the actions and tactics needed to deliver your strategy effectively. Truly explore what you think will have a real impact, assess your capacity to take these actions, and explore strategic opportunities, such as potential partnerships and events.

Reflecting on the three questions, Shultz notes that many organizations fail to take the time to genuinely think in a strategic way. “It is simply easier to think about the next action—a protest, a report, a lobbying visit—without seeing it all through a strategic lens,” he says. Strategic thinking will ensure that your advocacy is as intentional, consistent, relevant, context-specific and impactful as possible.

Shultz notes that effective strategy is an art, not a science, and there is no magic formula that works automatically in every circumstance. But these three questions are a good starting point in place of such a formula.

Featured photo: Protest at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, December 2008. Credit: allispossible.org.uk, Flickr Creative Commons

Social media for social marketing: Building a movement for equality

As part of my social media for social marketing series I’m highlighting a diverse range of examples that exemplify this approach in very creative ways.

Last time, I looked at the #LikeAGirl campaign, and now I’ll briefly highlight the impact of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC’s) Facebook Logo campaign.

In 2013, HRC catalyzed a movement supporting marriage equality, helping overturn Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act. HRC modified its logo by changing its colours to red and pink (see featured photo)—colours frequently associated with romance and love.

On March 25, 2013, the day before the Supreme Court was scheduled to start deliberations on Proposition 8, HRC posted on Facebook encouraging users to adopt the modified logo as their profile picture. The message was shared over 125,000 times. The logo and variants spread through the network, through millions of everyday users and social media influencers such as Beyoncé, George Takei, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres and Martha Stewart. A large number of supporters created their own remixes of the HRC logo, which was a testament to the ability of the campaign to engage and inspire.

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The campaign drove over 700,000 unique visitors to HRC’s website in just 24 hours. More than 100,000 of them signed and shared HRC’s ‘Majority Opinion’ petition, recruiting more than 67,000 new supporters. Government leaders and corporations showed their support through Facebook posts and images. Not only did the campaign help overturn Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, it also helped make same-sex marriage become much more socially acceptable to support and advocate for. And the campaign itself won multiple awards to boot.

Read more about the campaign

#Arts4Climate

To mark the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place, here’s a good example of harnessing the arts and communications for social change.

Connect4Climate is a global partnership programme launched by the World Bank Group and the Italian Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The initiative tackles climate change by promoting solutions and empowering people to act. Within the programme, various initiatives are directly related to the arts and communications:

Fashion4Climate focuses on making manufacturing processes more environmentally sustainable.

Music4Climate engages the music industry to spread the climate change message. For example, in 2011 the partnership launched the Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa CD featuring collaborations between established and up-and-coming African artists. In collaboration with MTV, some of the songs were featured in New York’s Times Square. In 2012, the partnership hosted the Voices4Climate competition, which included over 1,000 music video entries calling for climate action. Watch the winning music video below.

Music4Climate also brought together musicians for Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day, held in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Film4Climate is dedicated to greening the film industry. The initiative aims to help develop a concrete plan to mitigate the environmental impact of film production, as well as raise awareness about climate change through cinema. In 2015, the initiative hosted a competition, Action4Climate, which challenged filmmakers to raise awareness of climate change, share experiences and inspire action by creating a video documentary. Watch the winning documentary below.


This year’s Film4Climate competition
 invited filmmakers between 14-35 to create a short public service announcement or film about climate action. Submissions for the competition are closed, but you can see the more than 860 entries here. The awards ceremony for the competition will take place at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place 7-18 November in Marrakech, Morocco.