7+ Nonprofit Advocacy Examples to Inspire Your Organization

We know you care deeply about your cause. It’s obvious in the way you show up every day to do meaningful work. The work you do changes lives and improves the world for everyone! Here at Cornershop Creative, we’ve been lucky to work alongside dozens of organizations in advocating for so many great causes. Through our web design services, we’ve empowered our clients to turn their websites into powerful tools for inciting change.

We are constantly amazed by how resourceful and creative nonprofit organizations can be in developing new advocacy campaigns. To inspire you to keep up the good work, we’ve curated a list of inspiring nonprofit advocacy examples along with five great strategies your organization can use:

An organized, sustained advocacy campaign plan will help you extend your community reach, increase supporter engagement, and better connect with motivated supporters. Let’s inspire your next campaign!

Nonprofit Advocacy: FAQs

Before jumping to the fun stuff, let’s answer some common questions nonprofits have about advocacy. Organizations have to follow certain rules to qualify for nonprofit status, and sometimes those rules are difficult to understand. This is especially true of the rules that limit the type of advocacy work that nonprofits can do. Let’s take a closer look at some of these essential questions.

What is nonprofit advocacy?

Nonprofit advocacy is any set of actions or activities that raise awareness, draw public support, or get people involved in a cause or policy with the intention of making a difference. Nonprofits launch advocacy campaigns to address the root causes of the issues they stand for by raising money, taking direct action, and informing the public about important issues.

Nonprofit advocacy campaigns can focus on creating cultural or social change, working to change unfair practices at large businesses or private companies, pushing for legislative change through grassroots activism, and doing anything else the public should be aware of and help with. These campaigns make it possible for everyone to play a part in improving society.

What’s the difference between advocacy and lobbying?

Advocacy and lobbying are very different things. There is a misconception that lobbying of any kind is not allowed for nonprofits, but this isn’t necessarily true. To explain this, let’s review the definitions for two types of lobbying:

  • Direct Lobbying involves contacting legislators in an attempt to influence their decisions.
  • Grassroots Lobbying involves efforts to involve the public in communication that influences legislators and their decisions.

Based on these definitions, having legislative scorecards on your website, circulating petitions, and hosting letter-writing campaigns to encourage supporters to reach out to legislators are forms of Grassroots Lobbying. 501(c)(3) organizations are allowed to do this as long as it’s not the organization’s primary purpose.

On the other hand, advocacy is any activity that raises awareness for a cause or issue. This can include lobbying and the activities and actions explained above.

This chart compares the differences between nonprofit advocacy and lobbying.

To learn more about the difference between lobbying and advocacy, download this Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities guide provided by the IRS.

How can advocacy benefit my nonprofit?

Advocacy is the cornerstone of everything you do at your nonprofit. After all, how will you raise enough money to clean up the local park without asking for donations and supplies? Advocacy empowers nonprofits to:

  • Generate public support. People won’t know to rally around your cause unless you tell them about what you’re doing and why it’s important.
  • Increase your nonprofit’s visibility. Advocacy campaigns reach beyond one action or individual. As people become more familiar with your organization’s brand, they’re more likely to get involved and become regular supporters.
  • Empower citizens. Sometimes, the only thing preventing people from taking action is not realizing they can make a difference. By advocating for your cause and reporting the changes you’re making, you show them what’s possible.
  • Tackle root problems. Real change requires tackling problems at the root. As your advocacy campaigns pick up speed, you’ll expand your reach and have more opportunities to address core issues.

Inspiring Nonprofit Advocacy Examples To Emulate

While there are several ways to advocate your cause, we’ve compiled a list of examples that consistently expand reach and impact. For greater impact, combine these different types of nonprofit advocacy.

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #1: Social Advocacy

In the history of marketing, one of the most used tactics is the bandwagon effect, which occurs when people adopt certain behaviors because others are doing so.

People want to get involved in things others enjoy, and social media increases this phenomenon. We love watching unboxing and reaction videos because we can share the delight of the people in the videos and immediately experience the same things for ourselves.

Social advocacy works the same way. By encouraging people to support your cause publicly, you can exponentially expand your reach! You already know how important your cause is, so hit those social media channels and let everyone else know.
Here are a few tips to become a successful social advocate:

  • Spotlight your most active supporters. In a social advocacy campaign, sharing is as valuable as a donation because it can expose your organization to hundreds more potential supporters. Shine a spotlight and thank the people who actively engage with your posts. That recognition could inspire others to join in.
  • Create eye-catching graphics. Without graphics, social media posts and emails get lost in the internet’s clutter. Create graphics for your campaigns to break up that stream and get people to pay attention to your messages.
  • Use relevant statistics. Have you heard the phrase, “It’s not bragging if it’s true?” Don’t be afraid to tell people about your organization’s amazing work. Remember to share statistics showing how much work is left to do and tell people how they can help.

Examples of Social Advocacy In Action

Here are a few of our favorite examples of social advocacy:

  • The Lown Institute provides a forum on their RightCare Action Week website so healthcare providers can easily share, vote on, and discuss action ideas.
  • With the help of Cornershop Creative, Our Bodies Ourselves launched a social media campaign called #obostaughtme. The social media campaign had people post pictures of themselves holding signs containing the lessons learned from Our Bodies Ourselves and the hashtag. While the campaign is over, you can read about the site-build process for Our Bodies Ourselves.
  • Access Now uses Tweet to Target functionality from Engaging Networks to target their campaigns to specific people on X (formerly Twitter). Adding personal tags ensures people notice your posts since that will send the information directly to them instead of just letting it passively float by in their feeds. Access Now also has an incredible website that includes a Featured Post Grid and a Click to Tweet Block.

Screenshot of the Access Now website

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #2: Connecting with a Representative

Perhaps the coolest thing about our political system is that we’re allowed to contact our government representatives to voice our preferences. That’s why so many representatives have their own websites with easily accessible contact information! This way, society can hold legislators accountable by flooding their inboxes and voicemails with messages from the people they were elected to represent.

Encourage your supporters to contact representatives to share their concerns and speak up for your cause. This is a guaranteed way to ensure legislators are aware of public opinion while keeping your cause fresh in their minds when it comes time for a vote.

Here’s how to encourage supporters to connect with a representative:

  • Make contact information easily accessible. People have notoriously short attention spans. Even the most well-intentioned supporters will probably put off making that call if they have to look up the number first. Provide easy contact details and links whenever you encourage people to reach out so they aren’t distracted by adorable kitten videos.
  • Write a script. Many people who want to speak up won’t do it because they’re unsure what to say. Provide clear instructions and a script to get them started.
  • Track how many connections were made. Not only is this really cool for you to know, but it also helps you get even more people involved through social advocacy. Keep track of the number of phone calls and emails your campaign inspired. Then, publicize that information to encourage other supporters to act and create a shared sense of accomplishment.

Examples of Organizations That Make It Easy to Connect with a Representative

Here are some examples of organizations that leverage public opinion to make a difference in legislation:

Screenshot of the Save the Children website

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #3: Sign a Petition

Petitions work as advocacy tools by combining social advocacy and representative outreach. Even better, supporters can easily participate by simply signing (or typing) their names!

With online petitions, you can collect information from people who sign, show a real-time progress bar, provide rich details about why the petition is needed…the list goes on! If you’re serious about advocating for your cause, petitions should definitely be part of your strategy.

Here’s how to ask supporters to sign a petition:

  • Make petitions available digitally. Online petitions make advocating for your cause convenient, so you might as well save the paper!
  • Allow supporters to share petitions. Social sharing buttons on your digital petitions enable supporters to encourage their friends to sign too. Remember, the easier you make it to spread the word, the more your supporters can get involved.
  • Share how many signatures you’ve received on your website. By now you must be seeing a theme: Social proof is incredibly important to your nonprofit advocacy efforts. Share how many signatures you’ve received, and even set a goal so that your supporters know what they’re working toward.

Examples of Organizations with Petition Power

Here are some organizations that really know how to do a petition right:

  • Left Action uses petitions as the main tool to engage supporters. Every petition isn’t serious, but they all serve the purpose of uniting people and keeping them involved in the issues. Petitions are shared through email and on the Left Action Facebook page, which is also another great example of leveraging social media.
  • PennEnvironment worked with a coalition of organizations to create a damning report that examines the 10 most toxic facilities in Allegheny County in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Their customized website features a map that allows users to find out how close they are to the danger zones, and integrated petitions make it easy for people to take action.
  • Save Newark Wetlands is an action-oriented, visually engaging website. To reach their audience in style, we created new email, donation, and action templates for Action Network that matched the website’s branding. We also embedded signup forms for their Action Network lists directly into the website.
  • Friends of the Earth teamed up with Cornershop to create an advocacy template that they can now use to build forms for petitions, targeted letters, and tweet-to-target forms.
  • The Center for Food Safety came to us with a huge campaign targeting something Americans love: popcorn. We customized a pre-built WordPress template to create a beautiful campaign site, integrated the form with Bonterra, and included a petition signature count and a Facebook/X share count. The map pulls all petition signatures from Bonterra and adds a dot for each one.

Use online petitions to drive support for your efforts, like this nonprofit advocacy example from The Center for Food Safety.

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #4: Volunteering

Volunteers are essential to any nonprofit advocacy strategy. These people will shout your cause from the rooftops while building a community garden up there, too. The best part is that these people want to be involved and work hard, so keep giving them great jobs!

Here’s how to inspire your volunteers to stick around:

  • Give active volunteers a shoutout. Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done, and you’re more likely to retain volunteers who know they’re appreciated. Cheer your volunteers on by publicly recognizing their efforts. Create fun awards, and don’t skip the annual volunteer banquet.
  • Provide hands-on experiences. Provide opportunities for volunteers to see their impact so they can fully understand the need and become even stronger advocates.
    Turn volunteering into an educational opportunity. People love to learn, and what better way to satisfy this than by educating them about your cause? Always have a subject matter expert on hand when volunteers are at work to answer all questions.
  • Involve the younger generation. Though many volunteer opportunities involve special skills or risky tasks only suitable for adults, do everything you can to provide opportunities for kids and teens to volunteer, too. Kids have more time to give and are less shy about sharing their stories, and teens are passionate when properly instructed and appreciated. Plus, their parents are more likely to help when they can bring their kids along.

Examples of Volunteer-Powered Organizations

Every organization can find something for volunteers to do. However, these organizations have really made volunteers part of their work and have been rewarded with pretty notable advocacy success:

  • Habitat for Humanity knows the power of volunteers. They provide opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to pitch in. Plus, they’re great at educating people along the way by blending professionals with untrained workers.
  • Guide Dogs of America has a long history of providing guide dogs, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired people across North America. Their volunteers actively train guide dogs.
  • Students at Northwood School in New York planned to distribute one million masks for free during the pandemic. They called on an entire staff of volunteers to make The Mask Hub a reality.
  • Since 2004, Soldiers’ Angels has provided care and services to service members, veterans, and military families. Inspired by the impact care packages have on soldiers’ well-being, Soldiers’ Angels calls on volunteers from all around the country to gather supplies, send care packages, and run a wide variety of creative programs.

 

Screenshot of the Soldiers' Angels website

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #5: Educating Others

Your organization most likely has an amazing history. Maybe your founder had an experience that encouraged them to fight for a cause. Over time, more people joined that cause, did some really great stuff, and built the advocacy powerhouse you are today. Are you sharing this story?

Many organizations share a brief, dry history on their About page and leave it at that. But there is so much missed potential in that! Your story has power, and sharing it with supporters empowers them to continue the story.

Share those facts and figures. Tell those anecdotes. Educate everyone you can on what you are doing, why it’s important, and how you will make a difference. Try these strategies:

  • Provide educational resources supporters can share. Educational resources can be PDFs, videos, infographics, or one of our favorites: eCards. Whatever format you choose, equip your supporters with the information they need to spread the word.
  • Use infographics. Well-designed infographics provide sharable statistics in a fun format. They’re also a great tool for social media because followers can learn new information about your cause with one glance! Top-quality graphic design helps communicate your message, make it digestible, and educate your audience.
  • Share on all platforms. Don’t just warehouse the information on your website (though you should have resources there.) Share information across social media and email campaigns, and enable those share buttons to let supporters keep the momentum.

Examples of Organizations with Great Resource Sharing

There are many ways to share handy educational resources for your cause. Here are a few examples of organizations that make education a priority:

  • Joybound, formerly known as Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) does amazing work to rescue animals that might otherwise be left on the streets or euthanized in shelters. However, there is only so much the organization can do, so it works hard to provide educational resources about animal care and pet ownership, including information about services it doesn’t provide!
  • FoodCorps has created interactive microsites to make their reports digital. These reports are easy to share, interesting to read, and packed with information that supporters love to know.
  • Vow for Girls runs an eCard campaign that allows supporters to create and share eCards that spread awareness by telling supporters exactly what the card’s proceeds funded. Some examples include a year of school ($181), job training class ($350), and school supplies ($10).
  • Fairplay is an organization dedicated to ending marketing to children. Their newly rebranded website offers a wealth of educational resources about their mission and features a regularly updated blog that tracks legislation related to kids and marketing.
  • AbleGamers seeks to make the video gaming community more accessible for everyone. Their website offers educational resources for developers looking to make their games more inclusive, and information for game players with disabilities looking to get the most out of their favorite video games.

Screenshot of the AbleGamers website

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #6: Advocacy Events

Advocacy events come in all shapes and sizes. Are you holding a donor appreciation dinner? Do you want to kick off a new fundraising campaign? Whatever your goal is, here’s how you can build community around your cause with an event:

  • Plan ahead. Planning advocacy events is more than just inviting people and deciding what food to serve. You should also have a clear goal or mission in mind. What will attendees do or learn? What will make this event memorable?
  • Create a slogan. Make it easy to share your event by creating a memorable slogan. You can expand on this by providing guests with a cheat sheet of talking points for the event.
  • Get legislators involved. Inviting legislators to your events puts them right there in the room to see your supporters’ passion and have important conversations.

Examples of Organizations that Host Advocacy Events

Events are best when they are customized to match an organization’s mission. From large fundraising galas to small informational meetings, these organizations recognize how important it is to gather together and create a shared experience:

  • Cultural Vistas offers students and professionals a variety of opportunities to work and study abroad. They host regular events to educate supporters on the joys and challenges of working and studying abroad.
  • The Packard Center for ALS Research launched Team Packard, a collective effort to get high schools and universities to hold fundraising events to support ALS research.
  • The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) conducts important work in supporting and advocating for reproductive health rights worldwide. They offer a healthy mix of digital and in-person events to educate supporters on what is happening in other countries and how they can help improve women’s lives around the world.
  • The For Our Future Action Fund is dedicated to connecting people and their communities so they can advance a shared agenda. According to their WordPress website, they gather people together in states like Florida, Michigan, and Nevada to advocate for the causes they care about.
  • The International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) is made up of dozens of member organizations that mobilize to lead local campaigns, develop research, collect data, and collaborate in policy debates.

Screenshot of the IPEN website

Nonprofit Advocacy Example #7: Leveraging Corporate Philanthropy

Turn to companies to support your advocacy efforts. Corporate philanthropy enables businesses to get involved with causes they’re passionate about. When businesses direct their efforts toward supporting causes, policies, or initiatives that seek social, environmental, or political change, that’s considered advocacy.

Compared to traditional advocacy, corporate philanthropy takes a more indirect approach. It provides financial resources, in-kind donations, or volunteer support to nonprofit organizations that align with the company’s values and social responsibility goals. For instance, a company might donate to environmental conservation organizations as part of its commitment to sustainability, effectively advocating for environmental protection and conservation.

Here’s how to leverage corporate philanthropy to support your advocacy efforts:

  • Search for matching gift opportunities. Many companies offer corporate giving programs where they match donations made by employees to eligible nonprofits. Matching gifts can significantly increase your funding. Place a company search tool on your nonprofit’s website so donors can research their eligibility and find their employer’s match request form. Also, place informative matching gift blurbs across all outreach.
  • Leverage employee volunteer programs. Engage with businesses that encourage their employees to volunteer. This can provide your nonprofit with valuable manpower and increase corporate investment in your cause, as companies see the impact of their contributions firsthand.
  • Identify alignment in values. Research and target corporations whose values and corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals align with your advocacy efforts. A shared commitment to a cause can lead to more meaningful partnerships.

Examples of Organizations That Leverage CSR

While corporate philanthropy can be a powerful advocacy tool, the impact of companies’ initiatives varies widely. Here are some corporate philanthropy examples of nonprofits maximizing advocacy impact:

  • The ASPCA features an informative Ways to Give page. It explains all the great ways people can help, including through corporate giving opportunities. Each opportunity links to its own separate page with more information, such as the matching gifts page and workplace giving page.
  • Save the Children highlights corporate giving opportunities across its entire website. Their homepage, donation form, Ways to Give page, and dedicated matching gift page all promote the opportunity for corporate involvement.
  • March of Dimes features a matching gifts page on its website, which provides insight into these programs and how donors can support the cause. It even provides a handy company search tool, so donors can research their eligibility for their employers’ programs.

March of Dimes empowers nonprofit advocates to get involved via corporate philanthropy on its website.


5 Nonprofit Advocacy Strategies To Try

We’ve already covered the main questions around advocacy and provided some solid examples of the best ways to advocate. Now it’s time to share some general strategies that can be applied across the board to improve your advocacy efforts!

A checklist of nonprofit advocacy strategies, written out below

1. Create an informative website.

Your nonprofit website is the hub of your advocacy efforts. It empowers you to reach potential advocates beyond geographical limitations, significantly expanding your organization’s visibility and impact. A well-crafted website allows you to accomplish the following:

  • Share educational materials. By providing well-researched and accessible content, you can educate the public about the issues you’re addressing, the importance of your work, and the change you’re seeking to make.
  • Mobilize supporters. You can facilitate various involvement opportunities through your website, such as petitions, donations, and information about contacting representatives. By simplifying the process of donating, volunteering, or joining a campaign, your website can mobilize a community around your cause.
  • Showcase impact. Highlighting your nonprofit’s achievements and tangible impact can inspire confidence in your organization. An informative website allows you to share success stories, testimonials, and data-driven results, demonstrating the effectiveness of your advocacy and encouraging support.

At Cornershop Creative, we’ve helped dozens of nonprofits create inspiring advocacy websites that inform and mobilize supporters. If your website needs a helping hand, we’re more than happy to design a navigable, beautiful site that communicates your mission. See for yourself how we’ve helped nonprofits just like yours.

2. Coordinate all advocacy efforts.

All advocacy efforts, including website updates, emails, text messages, and everything else, should be coordinated for maximum impact. Coordination ensures recognizable branding, builds trust, and encourages involvement because people can connect at different levels and help in whichever way works best for them.

Luckily, coordinating your efforts is easy when you start with a clear plan. Cornershop’s campaign implementation services are specifically geared toward this type of multi-platform advocacy, so let us know how we can help!

3. Focus on the “why.”

Life is busy. It’s easy to get caught up in to-do lists and just keep doing things. If you really want your nonprofit advocacy efforts to be effective, get away from the “to-dos” and look closely at the “why” behind what you do. The “why” is important in two questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Why should supporters care?

Most of this article has focused on the first why. We talked about what advocacy is, how it helps, and how you can emphasize your mission in your advocacy efforts. Now let’s take a look at the other why. Do you know what supporters can gain by spreading awareness and supporting your cause?

We hope so, because this should be at the center of all your efforts. It should drive your messaging and form the basis of your SEO campaigns (you’re working on that too, right?). When you focus on why your cause is important, you make it personal. Once it is personal, people can’t help but get involved!

4. Emphasize impact.

Once you’re skilled at building campaigns that gather support, the best way to maintain that support is to show people they made a difference. This follow-up helps cement your advocacy efforts in supporters’ minds by making their impact tangible.

One of the best examples of this is the Salvation Army. Every year, they recruit thousands of volunteers to stand out in the cold and collect donations. Did you know that most of those bell ringers are regulars that come back each year?

This isn’t solely driven by good intentions (though that’s clearly part of it). It’s also very personalized! At the end of the season, the Salvation Army sends each volunteer a report to let them know exactly how much they raised during their bell-ringing shifts and exactly what can be done with that money. Some social media groups regularly discuss this impact and set higher goals based on this report.

This extra step has really helped the Salvation Army become a nonprofit powerhouse. If you are looking for ways to retain supporter loyalty, this is an excellent place to start.

5. Look for ways to improve.

No matter how successful your campaigns are, there’s always room for improvement. Don’t fall into the cycle of using the same strategy and materials for every campaign. Not only will you get bored with the same old approach, your supporters will too. Instead, look at each new campaign as a challenge to grow and improve.

Research what other organizations are doing (like all the examples we’ve shared) and consider how to apply similar strategies to your cause. Is there room to branch out into other types of advocacy efforts? Are there opportunities to combine some of the examples you see with your current campaigns?

Another great strategy is to wrap up each campaign with a review and strategy session for your team. Talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what changes can be made to improve next time. Come to the meeting armed with your research of what other organizations are doing and how you can implement some of their winning strategies. Set aside time after this meeting to update your website and campaign materials so that you can lay the groundwork for future success while everything is fresh in your mind.

Wrapping Up

Successful nonprofit advocacy is all about the relationships you form with your supporters. Analyze and refine your strategies often, and keep your supporters top of mind while you plan. It may take a little bit of trial and error, but your efforts are sure to pay off!

Want to learn more about how to take your nonprofit advocacy to the next level? Check out these additional resources:

By

De’Yonté’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.