Book review, Getting Started, social media campaign

Social Change Anytime Everywhere Book Review: A Foundation for Social Change Campaigns

10 Comments 08 April 2013


If you work for, volunteer your time for, or consult to a mission-based organization, promoting your organization or campaign online is critical. In a new book, co-authors Amy Sample Ward and Allyson Kapin offer a step-by-step guide to raising money, promoting organizations, and create killer advocacy campaigns using a multichannel online approach. Social Change Anytime Everywhere is a comprehensive look at how mission-based organizations should use digital and social communication, develop internal communication structures for success, and plan multichannel campaigns. The book is full of digestible information, appropriate for anyone working in communications, fundraising, programming, volunteer management, and leadership at an organization.

This isn’t a book simply about communication channels, or tactics, or content, but rather an integrated approach to communication, firmly based in the principles of community-building. This book fills a needed information void: how to plan and execute strategic and tactical multichannel digital communication for fundraising and advocacy. Amy Sample Ward is a former community organizer and community manager, now membership director at NTEN, and Allyson Kapin is the founder and lead campaign strategist for Rad Campaign. Both women thoroughly understand that the success of any campaign, and any social media strategy, is based on developing strong community, community conversations, and community leaders. Working from these principles, Amy and Allyson offer a step-by-step guide, supported with multitude of examples, on how to build advocacy, fundraising, and multichannel campaigns.

If there is a killer, must-read chapter, it’s Chapter Two: Guiding Principles for Anytime Everywhere. Amy and Allyson have identified five “make it or break it” principles integral to any structurally sound campaign or movement. These principles are foundational pieces for any organization communicating digitally (likely 80% of all organizations nowadays). Organizations struggling with creating a movement or gaining traction online would do well to consider these five principles:

  1. Identify your community from the crowd. Determine who is part of your immediate Community, your Network (people you don’t know but your community does), and your Crowd (those who receive your messages but do not know you and need consistent messaging).
  2. Focus on shared goals. This is “the conversation” that I often write about (link). This is where does what you want to talk about meets up with what your community/crowd/network wants to talk about and do.
  3. Choose tools for discovery and distribution. Align tools with your audience’s preferred tools and match your tools with their preferences.
  4. Highlight personal stories. People relate to people, not logos or organizations. The book offers the perfect example of Planned Parenthood’s Storybank, which “banks” stories from supporters about how PPFA impacts them. PPFA utilized these stories during a recent time of crisis to communicate PPFA’s needs and motivate supporters to action.
  5. Build a movement. The authors explain that movements are larger than partnerships and coalitions, deeper than engagement, and longer than campaigns. A movement encourages co-creation between individuals and organizations, and remains focused on the larger goal of lasting, real impact.

In chapters three through six, co-authors Sample Ward and Kapin walk the reader through the building blocks (with ample examples) of creating advocacy, fundraising, community-building, and multichannel campaigns. Chapter seven emphasizes the need to equip your organization internally with an appropriate staffing model, culture, and leadership style that supports multichannel communication.

Here are some of the highlights I bookmarked as I read through the book:

Chapter Three: Advocacy Anytime Everywhere:

  • Three core principles for organizing effective campaigns.
  • How Epic Change mobilized its supporters to realize smaller, achievable goals.
  • How utilizes volunteers to create and distribute content.
  • Using metrics to measure impact across channels.

Chapter Four: Fundraising Anytime Everywhere

  • A step-by-step guide to developing a multichannel fundraising campaign.
  • Tips for using email for fundraising.
  • Utilizing homepage hijacks and other practices for website-based fundraising.
  • Principles of social media fundraising, and four metrics to watch.

Chapter Five: Community Building Anytime Everywhere

  • The four essential elements of a strategy for building community: build trust, use a common language, connect community conversations across channels, and practice is important.
  • Co-creation is critical for community-building.
  • Marry trust with community-building by building trust into the community.
  • Empower your community by creating and supporting sub-groups.

Have you read the book? What were the highlights and takeaways for you?

In the a follow-up blog post, to be published Wednesday, April 10, Amy Sample Ward and Allyson Kapin answer six follow-up questions about the book, including “what inspired you to write the book,” “what assets should an organization have in place before planning a multichannel campaign,” and “what does it take to raise money online using social media.” Stay tuned!

  • Debra – wow! I’m flattered and thrilled at your review and so excited that you’re sharing it with your community. It is so wonderful to be able to share our ideas, experience, and recommendations through the book. Thanks for giving it a read 🙂


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Amy, thank you as well for this needed addition to nptech. Looking forward to publishing the interview later this week, and sharing more of your wisdom with my readers through that.


  • Debra (and Amy & Allyson),

    Thanks for posting such a terrific review of this book. It sounds like a truly helpful guide for non-profit organizations.

    My frustration is that online campaigns are often such an afterthought for organizations, because they can’t/ don’t want to spend the money required to have a dedicated individual(s) managing their online spaces.

    I’ve started talking with a small shelter here in Toronto about this kind of work, and it sounds like this book would be very helpful in implementing and executing a plan.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Shane, Allyson replied further on in the comments to yours. I’d only add that while many organizations don’t have a dedicated individual to managing their online spaces, many are doing terrific things by extending the resources of individuals already on staff. One of the things that Amy and Allyson talk about is structuring the organizations so that staff are able to work in a networked way, collaborating across the organization. This might be a relevant chapter to read as well.


    Shane Francescut Reply:

    Hi Debra,

    Thanks for the added comments. I’m a huge fan of networked collaboration, and a big believer that teams can work just as effectively spread across cities or borders. That may be getting a bit off topic, but I think it’s important for organizations to recognize that some work can be effectively completed from outside the organization.


  • Allyson Kapin

    Shane thanks for your awesome feedback. I agree online components to campaigns can often be an afterthought which leads nonprofits to scramble to do something effective online. In the book we outline 8 steps to create an multichannel campaign which includes a great example of a campaign calendar by a nonprofit who is doing it right. I think this would be super helpful to your work.


    Shane Francescut Reply:

    Thanks Allyson, that sounds like a very valuable component to the work I’ll be doing. I haven’t had a chance to pick up the book yet, but I’m definitely going to get to it as part of my summer reading. Thank you both for putting together what sounds like an excellent and practical tool.


  • Allyson Kapin

    Thanks for the great review Debra. Love the photo too. 🙂


  • This looks like a great read, Debra! Thanks for outlining this! Will definitely help me when I get my hands on this. I’d love to see some more case studies – were there any specific examples that you found particularly inspiring?


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jaki, I did love the example of how uses advocacy to reach globally. They write about the Global Days of Action and how they cultivate core supporters. I found how they use volunteers to distribute content inspiring, especially for those organizations that want to think about utilizing volunteers for deeper organizational engagement.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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