Cosmic

Inspire Your Supporters to Drive Change with a Digital Action Center

To reach your organization's impact potential, your supporters must act. Use a digital action center to leverage your supporters' energy, time & resources.

Eric Ressler
August 24, 2020
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Your nonprofit is committed to building a more just and equitable society. But your progress toward that vision hinges on your ability to spark action and create real, transformational change. And the reality is that you can’t do it alone. In order to truly scale your impact, you need to leverage the energy of a committed coalition of supporters — supporters who are willing to take action.

In our digital-first era, you must find ways to meaningfully engage your supporters online. And the best way to do that is with a digital action center.

What is a Social Impact Action Center?

A nonprofit's website is the foundation of its digital hub. But not all social impact websites can really be called action centers.

What differentiates a standard marketing website from an action center? Two words: interactive engagement. An action center is a digital space that is specially designed to foster engagement by inviting supporters to take a variety of interesting and impactful actions. In short, it’s the action arm of your holistic brand-building and marketing strategy.

The same can’t be said of the average nonprofit’s website. Think about it. Even the most well-designed storytelling site — complete with fresh, engaging content — offers a mostly one-way user experience. The role of the site visitor is basically that of a passive consumer. Sure, visitors might be able to add their email address to the mailing list, make a donation, or obtain information about volunteering. But that’s usually about as far it goes.

An action center, on the other hand, is participatory and highly interactive. Its sole purpose is to deepen your supporters’ devotion to your cause — and leverage their interest, time, and resources to move your mission forward.

How to Plan a Social Impact Action Center

Use this step-by-step guide to begin planning a digital action center and start scaling your impact.

What Does an Action Center Look Like?

The exact structure of your action center (and the content it includes) will vary significantly depending on your organization’s mission. That’s because the actions, “asks,” and opportunities you provide should flow directly from your organization’s unique positioning and current goals. Who or what do you help? In what ways do you offer support or advocate for change? And what are your most pressing objectives right now? Your action center should be chock full of relevant actions based on your answers to those questions.

For example, your action center might give your supporters opportunities to:

  • Sign petitions
  • Write letters to their representatives
  • Sign up for events
  • Access an activist toolkit
  • Consume webinars, videos, articles, podcasts, and other binge-worthy digital content
  • Sign up to volunteer
  • Donate to a campaign
  • Become a sustaining member
  • Organize an event or protest
  • Spread awareness by sharing content
  • Download or customize branded creative assets for social sharing

An action center invites supporters to take actions in the digital world — with the goal of creating real-world impact. Your mission, then, is to build a multifaceted digital hub. It should be a space that encourages your supporters to engage (and re-engage) with your brand while making a real difference, too.

As far as where to house your action center, your solution will depend on your organization’s needs, budget, and capabilities. For example, you could build your action center as a separate section of your existing website. You could also create a standalone microsite. Either way, you would want to craft the right messaging throughout your digital hub to drive supporters to your action center.

When Cosmic works with clients, we guide them in making these decisions as well as designing and building their action centers.

Why Your Social Impact Organization Needs an Action Center

A digital action center is a critical part of your nonprofit’s overall strategy to forge transformational change. To understand why, you must first recognize the need for social impact organizations to invest in their brand and embrace a digital-first model. In today’s digitally driven attention economy, nonprofits must compete for their audience’s mindshare. To do that, you need to commit to producing scroll-stopping digital content. In effect, you must start acting like a digital media company.

But here’s the thing: If all you ever do is create compelling content, you won’t really have done your job. You’re in the content-creation game to spark change, not simply to entertain. Even the most binge-worthy content is essentially passive without the right calls to action. (There’s a reason people say Netflix and chill rather than Netflix and act.) You must connect each piece of content with an opportunity to engage or take action.

An Action Center is the Bridge From Awareness to Action

If your action center is packed with the right mix of fresh content and easy opportunities to get involved, your audience will return time and again. As they re-engage, your supporters will deepen their emotional connection to your organization. That bond will, in turn, increase their willingness to help as opportunities arise.

Not just that, but your audience will grow. As your supporters become more invested, they’ll take actions that directly and indirectly spread your message across their networks. And as they do that, your coalition of supporters increases. The result? An ever-expanding pool of people to whom you can go with specific “asks.”

You may not need your supporters to sign a petition, show up to a protest, or donate to a campaign right now, but you probably will at some point. The more activated supporters you have at the ready, the easier it is to quickly mobilize coordinated action when the time comes.

Effective Action Centers Support Sustainable Revenue Streams

An action center can fuel and diversify your revenue streams by:

  • Serving as a highly visible platform for fundraising campaigns and digital fundraising events.
  • Providing a space to publish high-level articles and white papers that can be used as part of your funding requests from foundations and major donors.
  • Demonstrating your impact and establishing your organization as an effective, results-oriented leader in your area of the social impact ecosystem.
  • Providing opportunities to monetize your content in the form of a membership or subscription model.
  • Demonstrating to larger donors and foundations that you are not only doing the program work, but also activating and cultivating a wider audience of support.

By developing an action center, you demonstrate your efficacy and leadership to grassroots supporters and major foundations alike. In doing so, you take charge of your organization’s revenue stream and diversify your sources of income for the long haul.

Interested in learning more about how Cosmic can lead your organization in designing and building a dynamic, traction-building action center? Drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

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