This article was originally posted on CQ Roll Call’s Connectivity blog.

In the grassroots departments of corporations, nonprofits, or trade associations, discussion often revolves around a signature advocacy campaign.

This signature advocacy campaign could take the form of a basic online petition, or a fully-fledged initiative complete with an advocacy center, paid and earned media, printed collateral and in-person meetings. If an organization chooses the latter form, a decision must be made on whether or not to give the advocacy campaign a unique identity or brand.

The main advantage of giving your national advocacy campaign a unique identity is the ability to be more creative and less restricted from the conventional brand standards of your organization.

But you don’t want it so wildly out there that consumers of the campaign fail to connect the dots that it’s got anything to with your organization at all.

One example of a successfully launched branded national advocacy campaign is the Speak Now for Kids campaign launched in November of 2013 by the Children’s Hospital Association. The campaign is an online community for advocates to connect with one another and learn about child health issues. The central web portal of the campaign also allows advocates to ask legislators to take action on policy objectives, offers news-to use content and an advocate story bank, and allows advocates to earn incentives as a Champion for Children’s Health.

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Matthew Wright, Advocacy and Outreach Director for the Children’s Hospital Association and Speak Now for Kids brand advocate says, “We needed an army of advocates who were invested in children’s health, and recognized building a Speak Now for Kids community was the way to go.”

The Children’s Hospital Association made the following assessment on the challenges and opportunities of developing a national advocacy campaign:

Challenge: 501(c)3 status.

Opportunity: Operated advocacy efforts through a 501(c)6.

Challenge: Patient privacy laws (HIPAA)

Opportunity: Maximize online and in-person resources and pursue authorizations for public campaigns.

Challenge: Children can’t vote.

Opportunity: Engage parents and others who provide care to children.

Challenge: Hospitals want to be part of the national solution, yet have their own local/state advocacy agendas.

Opportunity: Creation of the Speak Now for Kids campaign.

Campaign Infrastructure

  • 2 full-time employees
  • $20,000 total budget for website maintenance activities and grassroots advocacy software.
  • Occasionally spend on paid advertising (maybe 1-2 times per year).

Campaign Growth & Reach

  • 12,000+ advocates database.
  • Additional 11,900 advocates on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Increased reach by 226% during last 12 months.
  • 51+ million social media impressions.
  • Achieved engagement between individual advocates and federal legislators.

Campaign Takeaways

  • If you don’t have lots of resources, use a combo of offline and online engagement.
  • Engage existing and potential new advocates where they are best capable to serve your interests:
    • Online
    • Their places of interest
    • In-District
    • State Capitols and Washington, D.C.
  • Social listening – connect followers of high-profile influencers with your cause.
  • Cultivate those followers into becoming your champions.