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The American Civil Liberties Union famously had its best online fundraising haul of all time, raising $8.2 million from more than 100,000 donations in the days after the 2016 election.
They seized the moment with bold statements -- “Trump, we’ll see you in court” -- and activated a far-reaching digital advertising campaign to capitalize on the earned media opportunity following Donald Trump’s surprise victory. This begs the question for progressive organizations of all sizes: how limitless is the online fundraising potential with Trump as our president?
He makes headlines every day that make any president before him seem boring. And as he continues to defy convention (and he definitely will), here’s how organizations can capitalize on a Trump presidency online:
An Army of Resistance
Any progressive organization can fundraise and message on a language of resistance. Trump and his administration are going to be at the helm of the government for at least four years. In that time, they’re going to support a great deal of divisive legislation. When supporters hear that the Trump administration plans to roll back all the progress we’ve fought so hard to make and protect, they’ll donate.
A left-leaning or progressive organization has every right to ask for help from its supporters to stop everything from privatizing Social Security to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Once you convince people of a pressing need with timely surveys and petitions, they’ll be more likely to donate after they’ve taken action. Positioning your asks as building an advocacy army for the common progressive good, ready to fund the fight against a Trump presidency is compelling.
Hit him hard. Be dramatic.
How will you fight Trump? What are you going to do to make him take notice? What’s actually going to get your audience’s blood boiling? Make a bold statement in an email, in a social post, or in ads, and back it up with meatier context. You want to be heard and you want people to notice -- so be attention grabbing.
Avoid generic Trump language
Trump and his incoming administration are already ruffling feathers. But everything he’s doing may not be of interest to your audience. Stay away from soft language and generic asks like “Help us fight Trump.” Instead, focus on the topics that will really activate your supporters. You can build a variety of CTAs, but they should all tie back in some way to the messaging and mission of your organization. In the Trump era that shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Trump’s penchant for making off-the-wall comments on the fly in 140 characters or less will inevitably throw a wrench in a well-laid content plan. Let it. Whatever’s on the front page of CNN or MSNBC is what your audience is paying attention to, and better yet, what they’ll respond to. With someone like Trump, it’s tempting to sound every alarm. Pick what you think will resonate, but when there’s something to jump on, do it fast and make it count.
Grow your list
Every major progressive organization is growing their list right now with acquisition advertising online. Why? Because the cost per email and the quality of names they are adding to their lists is the best we’ve seen in years. Call it the Trump effect, but this is an opportune moment for any organization to invest money, large or small, in growing its list.
Greg Berlin is a partner at Mothership Strategies, an agency specializing in online fundraising and digital advertising for Democrats and progressive causes.