Online organizing

In 2017, Let’s Get Ready

0 Comments 05 January 2017

A new calendar year, and as everyone is very aware, a new US government. With the new Republican administration, threats to society abound, including threats to environmental safeguards, sustainable energy, civil liberties, human rights, equality in society, free speech, independent journalism…I could go on and on. I want to begin this year with some wishes for the mission-driven sector.

Image courtesy of Highways England, Creative Commons

1. Let’s get angry.

Let’s make 2017 the year we get even angrier. We cannot stand in place, retrench, or feel sorry for ourselves. That’s not going to solve societal ills, and it’s not going to change anything. We have to connect with the anger our stakeholders feel, and prepare ourselves for a long hard battle ahead. It’s time for organizational leadership to also get angry, and channel that into positive action planning.

2. Let’s plan to be ready.

It’s time to get smart about getting ready. When you’re going into battle, you need an excellent infrastructure to support you. If you don’t have your infrastructure in place to manage an online campaign, spend time now looking into what you’ll need:

  • A CRM or data management solution. Find one that will help you know your stakeholders, the actions they have taken on your behalf, and why. In addition, be sure that your solution can pull and run the reports you need to measure and track progress. When you’re running a campaign, you’ll need to know who’s acting on your behalf, who to target to ask, and what’s working.
  • A social media management system. Still posting through each social channel, or using a mix of apps to manage your social universe? That’s inefficient and segregates your data. You have to know who loves you online, what people are saying about your issue, and respond quickly across channels. You’ll especially want to be able to view metrics and profiles of individuals easily. It’s time to get the right system in place so you’re ready to search, listen, respond, and recruit.
  • Understanding Google Analytics funnels and goals. Do you know what actions you want visitors to take on your website and how they will navigate to those places on the site? Track how well your website is working for you using funnels (the paths visitors take to get to the goal page) and goals (goal pages). This will come in handy as you prepare for and manage your campaign.
  • Your social media fans. How well do you know them? Can you segment a group of superfans, or those actively engaged? Take the time to identify them, add them to your CRM, engage with them, and get to know why they care deeply. You’ll want to activate these folks when the time comes, so identify them early and connect with them now.
  • A dashboard to measure your digital performance. Do you have a metrics dashboard in place that tells you, at a glance, about the success of your digital efforts? Set your goals for 2017, and dedicate some time to creating such a dashboard to track your progress. When you decide to run a campaign, you’ll know quickly what’s working and what isn’t.

3. Let’s connect with activated changemakers.

Hundreds of local and national self-organized groups have sprung up since November 8th. I know of at least four self-organized groups of concerned citizens that have popped up in my locale (Boston and surrounding suburbs) and have been meeting about “what we want to do now.”

Some of the larger organizations have become big tent organizations, opening up to include everyone who wants to connect. Other organizations are trying to figure out how to adapt in this new environment. Whatever the case, there are a lot of potential new supporters talking and planning for change.

You have a cause, find your people! Search social media for new networks, new connections, and newly-activated cause advocates to help. Find one of the newly-formed online groups organized around everything from a specific cause to political points of view, and begin listening. Participate cautiously, learn who’s a leader and which groups could add power to your cause.

Find. Connect. Change the future. It’s time.

Let’s make 2017 the year that causes connect deeply with those who care, move people to action, and change the trajectory of the future.

Editorial note:

I’ve missed writing, but I sorely needed a break from the pressure of a publication schedule. Thank you for understanding. I look forward to once again publishing regular analysis, reviews, and news about the intersection of nonprofits, causes, technology, and social media.



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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