Tue, October 29 2013

How small actions turn into big results

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Social Media •

It’s easy to dismiss small online actions as “slacktivism” that won’t affect real change, but studies have shown that online activism can turn into fundraising results and offline action. Technology—especially the explosion of mobile and social—has made it incredibly simple for people to take small, easy actions in support of a cause. Even more amazing is the way our connected society allows us to tap into much larger networks than we would be able to build ourselves.

“Slacktivists” often have large circles of influence and are more likely to spread the word, volunteer and donate down the road. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, “For a nonprofit, this valued supporter could be the small donor—with the big network or degree of social platform savvy—who is able to influence others to give well beyond her own capacity.”

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: altruism typically inspires more altruism. In one experiment, an initial act of kindness prompted others to donate, albeit in progressively smaller amounts. Yet the total dollar value donated was triple the initial gift. Generosity is contagious.

So, how do you tap into the generous potential of the crowd? When it comes to turning small actions into big results, the key is to keep it simple, focus on volume, and leverage your momentum.

The key word is easy.

Embrace and enable slacktivists by lowering the barrier of entry to participate—especially on social media. This means making your calls to action easy to understand, easy to do, and easy to afford. Remember: these supporters will not be your high-dollar donors—yet.

Turn up the volume.

To get the most out of your efforts, take every opportunity to amplify your message through your newly-expanded network. Give your audience simple tools to spread your message through social media and email. Encourage sharing by making these options ubiquitous and don’t be afraid to remind your fans and followers to get the word out. Again, make it easy by giving them prepared tweets, Facebook updates, and email copy to use.

Keep the momentum going.

As you build up steam, use the social proof of those collective actions to rally support for your cause. Create a ticker or donation thermometer to show your progress. Encourage your supporters to leave comments that you can use as testimonials. Showing a groundswell of support for your campaign will make others take notice.

Use that foot in the door.

Supporters who take a small action are more likely to take additional, larger actions over time. Create a plan to cultivate these audiences specifically and encourage more involvement with your cause. Depending on how they came to your organization, these donors, petition signers, or social media warriors may need an additional introduction to your work and why it’s important.


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