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How to Find, Cultivate, and Delight Your Next “Super Advocate”

By November 27, 2018

Activism and advocacy, whether grassroots or legislative, are at an all-time high right now. And while your nonprofit might not have a nationwide #movement around your cause yet, you probably have always had a focus on turning passion and cause interest into community action.

You may not be “on the hill” lobbying, but influencing public or private citizens can help you move your mission forward. This “people power” is one of the strongest resources nonprofits have.

“Do you have a strategy to find potential advocates? Engage them online and offline? Tap into their energy to influence change or gain support?”

Books like Bold and New Power show how decentralized participation and ownership create new social value and rethink older models.

Every organization seems to have a slightly different definition of advocacy based on their programs, so for clarity, in this post, I’m defining it broadly as “supporting a cause” or “coming to the aid.” So, why do advocates take action for your cause or clients?

Here’s an exercise to get input from advocates and understand the journey of those who you want to engage.

How to Find, Cultivate, and Delight Your Next “Super Advocate”

1. List the changemakers that have a strategic bond with your organization – the ones that when you call with an ask, they always answer.

  • Priya, the volunteer who now sits on your board
  • John, the supporter turned superstar by speaking up at a rally
  • Michelle, the donor that threw the biggest social fundraiser of the year
  • Cyrus, the influencer who spurred 100 comments with one social post

2. Understand why they support your mission. Why do your biggest supporters directly advocate for the people you help? Go personally interview them, or get pro bono volunteers from a local research or consulting company to help. Ask: why do they do the great things they do and how did they find out about you? What you can do better?

3. Group them by persona and make a prioritized list of:

  • Awareness channels for your cause
  • Engagement & conversion points with your mission
  • Improvement areas for how to delight and retain them


We have teamed up with members of the community to provide examples of how nonprofits look at bringing people closer to their mission. How do nonprofit donors go from one-time donors to essential advocates who are part of your mission?

Shared Hope: Profile Your Current and Future Advocates

Shared Hope envisions a world passionately opposed to sex trafficking and a community committed to restoring survivors to lives of purpose, value, and choice – one life at a time. They have consolidated how they think about doing this with their community in a few ways.

Activism & Advocacy

In 2017, they launched the Center for Justice & Advocacy with a “Stop the inJuSTice” campaign to mobilize state and federal stakeholders to pass laws that increase protections for child sex trafficking victims and accountability for offenders.

Volunteering & Advocates

With a staff of just 18 employees and global programs to run, an army of volunteers are mission-critical to Shared Hope’s success. Volunteers are able to take in clients, communicate with constituents, train others, and measure the success of their volunteering programs with the Nonprofit Success Pack and Pardot.


The lifeblood of their programs depends on donor involvement who many times come from volunteers. To do this they provide tools to advocates on their website and social posts on campaigns. Cultivating the entire donor journey at every touchpoint from acquisition to retention helps them drive far more revenue.

Marissa Gunther“To be able to track all of our most important relationships well, we needed a platform that was as deep as our relationships were. Salesforce has successfully allowed us to put in place the customization we needed with CRM and extend it seamlessly with other technology, to be able to really understand who our real supporters are.” – Marissa McCormick Gunther, Director of Growth Strategies

Here are a few tips for cultivation from Marissa:

  • Make sure that your message is clear, concise, and aligned with your strategy.
  • Create empowering tools that are worthy of a person’s story and data. What are the meaningful tools that can be used to further your mission?
  • Know the profile of the individuals that you want to engage. Really look at the data and group by engagement.

Engagement Studio volunteer to donor

ASPPH: Segment, Score, and Personalize Communication

The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health is on a mission to improve health for everyone, everywhere, by strengthening the capacity of members through advancing leadership, excellence, and collaboration. To do this, they work with academic institutions — but the real relationships are at the individual level.

Capture & Score Perceived Value

ASPPH connects with their members and customers in over 270 ways throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to retention. They capture data across digital and offline touch points with just four custom objects in Nonprofit Cloud, and increase or decrease points based on the quality of engagement.

Segment & Cultivate

In addition to illuminating the type of engagements advocates take part in, this score then places each person along a curve and groups them based on how involved they are. This creates a perfect opportunity to reach out and communicate the best next action, or invite people who aren’t as involved to collaborate on a strategic project.

A Mutual Journey

ASPPH has full visibility into both macro-journey of an individual along with the organization they are with. They also see where to make improvements at a micro-level to intervene or send a message. This helps them start to predict when a member will churn, and the next best action to take automatically.

Ed Ruiz, Sr. Director of Technology, ASPPH“By combining scoring, segmentation, and automation, we create a continuous feedback loop that supercharges personal engagement. We can quickly move someone up the engagement curve, and turn them not just into a highly engaged member becoming an association evangelist.”

-Ed Ruiz, Sr. Director of Technology, ASPPH

Here are 3 tips from Ed:

  • Collect as much engagement data as possible, wherever you can get it, with as little effort as possible.
  • Use the power of Nonprofit Cloud and “clicks, not code” to automate manual processes where you can.
  • Turn these insights into personal engagement to create movement up the engagement curve.

So, are you ready to take your organization and all of your constituents on a journey? Here’s a quick exercise you can go through to discover opportunities for improvement and reverse-engineer an engagement logic model like a Mad Lib:

  • To support [short-term outcome] or [long-term impact]
  • We want [participants] to [activity/action], which creates [outputs]
  • To do that, we need [inputs], along with really great communication and experiences

Take the next step and watch the webinar on Cultivating Your Next Super Advocate.