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How to Plan for the New Activism

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RESOLVE

Since the weekend of the Presidential Inauguration and marches, we’ve all seen images of intense patriotism and activism here in Washington, DC and around the globe. Similarly, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has also immediately seen an increase in engagement for our issues from our social media community. This level of engagement spiked last week when our advocates started talking about a bill that was introduced in the House that could possibly impact access to IVF, a medical treatment so many need to become parents. As an organization, we needed to quickly form and implement a strategy to react to this new type of engagement.
What’s ironic is that this bill has been introduced in some shape or form since 1995, but it has never gained any traction in Congress or with our community. RESOLVE has a successful advocacy strategy that includes an efficient process to set up and distribute an action alert, an email/letter that a constituent can personalize and easily submit to their Member of Congress. When we have created action alerts around this legislation in the past, we usually get a decent response after several emails and many posts on social media.
But this time was different. Our community is on fire on Facebook and Twitter over this bill. They were using action alerts to send letters to Congress at a pace we had never experienced before. But they wanted more than they ever had before too. They were asking where our response was, what we thought, how we were going to stop it faster than we could react and plan.
We had to have a frank conversation about this activism and how RESOLVE should approach it to advance our cause. As an advocacy group, we know too well how the government works, but we all fully admitted that we weren’t quite sure how things were going to work in this new era. And because social media focuses on instant gratification, how could we be strategic on social media for something that may not change overnight. Or even that month.

We needed to respond, but also think strategically and long-term. So we asked ourselves:

  • How do we handle the challenges of an online conversation happening faster than we can work in a day?
  • How do we educate our advocates on what to do and when to act when the process can take more than one action?
  • If we get a response to this, are we ready to engage in an effective way to keep these advocates long term?

Since the action alert went live last Monday afternoon, we only promoted it on social media only (no emails), there have been 16,736 letters sent to Congress in opposition, and we have attracted 7,823 new constituents to our email house file. We also saw a surge in donations that came from our Facebook community. We used a fundraising best practice to help with our efforts—when someone submits an action alert they are automatically redirected to a donation form. And when they submit they get an auto-response “thank you” with a subtle ask for $10.
So this has been a lesson in listening and being nimble to new opportunities. We have adjusted our strategy and shifted focus in certain areas. Since this reaction to our action alert, we’ve learned new tactics for increasing donations through action alerts/advocacy asks. And we learned sometimes it’s okay to react and serve a need for instant gratification.

Rebecca Flick is the Vice President, Communications and Programs for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Associations. RESOLVE is an advocacy organization that supports legislations and policies that increase access to family building options for people with infertility or who struggle to build their family. RESOLVE also opposes legislation or policies that restrict access to family building options. RESOLVE is a non-partisan organization that supports pro-family legislation.

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