A question I hear a lot is ‘what can NationBuilder do to get me more supporters?’. It’s a difficult question to answer, and isn’t really a helpful one to ask. The question I ask people to consider instead is ‘How can I use NationBuilder to implement a great supporter growth plan?’.

Well, first you need to create a great supporter growth plan. This doesn’t need to be a complex plan. This exercise isn't about building a complicated budgeted plan - it's about getting to the core of what you need and why you don't have it.

Here are three main questions (with some sub questions!) that will help you steer your plans:

  1. Why do you want supporters?
  2. How do I show my supporters love?
  3. How can I take my supporters on a journey? 

These seem pretty obvious, so it’s important that you don’t assume the answers are too, and take the time to step back and think through these from scratch.

1. Why do you want supporters?

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Every organisation needs supporters, right? Well most do. But the reason why will vary significantly from group to group. Ask yourself why you need them. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Who are your current supporters?
  • What do you need them to do?
  • How does that contribute to your organisational goals?
  • Are they doing those things now? And if not, why not? 

It’s important that you start from the top and work down. Think first about your organization’s goals and objectives, then think about which of those supporters can contribute to, and how that helps.

2. How do I show my supporters love?

Yes, you need to show your supporters love. This is the most powerful way to grow your supporter base. As well as helping to retain your existing supporters, appreciated supporters are your best advocate for growth.

People should know that you value their contribution, and that they are contributing to your organisations goals. If one of your supporters asks themselves ‘would it make any difference if I stop supporting them?’, they should be certain the answer is ‘Yes!’.

Here’s some thoughts about what you currently do to consider:

  • How can you show your appreciation to your supporters more?
  • Do your supporters know if their actions make a difference?
  • Do they know what that difference is?
  • What campaigns can you use to motivate your supporters to recruit?

Remember - a recommendation from your existing supporters will do more to gain you new supporters than anything you could ever do yourself

3. How can I take my supporters on a journey? 

Think about your existing supporters. Ask yourself where they are now. How far are they from what you need to be doing? And how can you get them there? What steps do they need to take? What steps do you need to take to move them along.

Let’s take an example of a group that needs to get people to help out with a series of street stalls. They’ve got a group of people they’ve identified as supporters - people who signed a petition they ran. Here’s the steps it will take to get those supporters to their street stall:

  • Identified as a potential volunteer
  • Ask them to volunteer
  • They sign up to volunteer
  • Phone to confirm willing to volunteer
  • Confirm a date and time to help
  • They come along and help

These steps can be built out as a path in NationBuilder. Everyone can be added to the first step. Some actions will be taken by your supporters, some by you. What you need then is a plan to process people on each different step.

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Understanding where your supporters are in their different journeys is essential to giving them the right communication at any time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help plan the journeys your supporters need to go on: 

  • What is your goal?
  • What do your supporters need to do to get you there?
  • What do you need to do to move them along?
  • How many of them do you need to do it?

So there you have it - a quick exercise to refresh your supporter engagement. You can use this regularly to check you are on the right track. You can also use it for specific smaller projects where you need to focus your supporters.

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