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Advocates: Your Best Form of Caffeine!

By Tim Deuitch  |  November 20, 2014

Advocates: Your Best Form of Caffeine!

Fund raisers are tired this time of year, or any time of year it seems. We can all use caffeine for the soul at these times. Advocates to the rescue! Most of us can name the people who ‘bleed’ our mission. People who speak well of you and your organization, and inspire others to support you.

But do we have enough vocal supporters to help us grow, and help inspire us?

Most nonprofits can’t answer this question, and it’s a miss! For large nonprofits the ironic culprit is affinity groups who drain our resources. We bundle supporters into ‘birds-of-a-feather’ that by association think or at least give alike. They are donors (Leadership and Major Givers) and demographics (Young Professionals , People of Color). We align resources – staff, time, volunteers - to engage them. It makes sense, but we stop short of harnessing the full power of these groups. The power is the advocates within them.

Defined: Advocates are people who articulate the value of your organization in both a passionate and fact based manner. They prioritize you and can tell others why. They should be your #1 affinity group, and there are more out there than you think.

It’s easy to bundle advocates into an affinity group and engage them regularly. They are:

  • Interested in your challenges – your success matters to them.
  • Easy to reach – they’re glad to take your call.
  • Easy to update – they’re eager to know what’s new at your organization – and they tell others.
  • Happy to help – they’re up for the task because they want you to succeed.

The approach:

  1. Spend one year asking your supporters (all of them) why they care about you. If they can tell you three reasons that are about your organization (vs. who asked them) they are an advocate.
  2. List them all and add a few more that you’ve forgotten over the years.
  3. Gather all of them together annually, share your progress, and ask them where they would like to help.

Try it. You’ll have more fund raisers, more voices, and more commitment. And you’ll love the energy boost!


Tim Deuitch

Senior Performance Consultant

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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