Information on Authorization

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When we first opened the application window for ad credits we really didn’t know what to expect. Neither ActionSprout nor Facebook have done anything quite like it before. Having personally worked in the nonprofit sector for about thirteen years, I was pretty sure folks would approve. However, we really didn’t know what kinds of questions or feedback we would receive.

The response has been amazing! Thanks to the community of people who are helping spread the word.

One question that we have heard from quite a few folks is “What’s with all of the permissions and Facebook authorizations?” and “Gulp, what does it mean that you want to “manage my pages?”

So, I thought I would take a minute to explain exactly what the app is asking for, why it’s necessary, and what these things really mean.

Let’s go step by step through the authorization process and hopefully I’ll  answer your questions in easy to understand english.

Step 1. Signing in with Facebook

The first step in the signup process is to “Sign in With Facebook”. Once you click this button, you’ll be asked to authorize the app to receive some basic information from Facebook – your name (public profile) and email address. We need this to verify who you are.


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Step 2. Authorize access to information and page management.  

The second authorization asks you for two things. Both of which sound scarier than they are.

  1. Permission to access information and insights about the page that you manage
  2. Permission for the app to “manage your page and your Facebook ads account.”

Why do we need all of this?

The system needs access to this information and insights for several reasons.

  1. When it comes time to award credits, our intent is to select a diverse set of organizations. Both ActionSprout and Facebook exist to serve organizations at all levels of sophistication – from orgs that are just getting started with Facebook to to old pros. This authorization gives us the information we need to learn a bit about your page so we can create a diverse pool of participants and better represent the entire sector.
  2. We are also hoping to use this information in aggregate to track the impact that the ads and ActionSprout are having across the whole pool of participants during the three month cycle.

Management Permissions is the one that sounds the scariest. We know! it’s important to keep in mind that every organization applying for ad credits is provided with a free ActionSprout account.

The management permissions are required to set up and use your ActionSprout account. What this screen is really asking you is whether you would like to give yourself permission to manage pieces of your Facebook page using ActionSprout.

Once you log in to your ActionSprout account, this will all make sense. Simply put, the system utilizes these permissions to provide you with information and tools you need to make your Facebook page as effective as possible. Without these, the app would simply not work.
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Step 3. Page and Ads Account Selection

Finally, once you have authorized the app, you will be asked for the pieces of information the app couldn’t get from Facebook – which ads account you will being using the Facebook ad credits in and your organization’s EIN number.

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That’s it.

Once you have completed the process you have accomplished two things:

  1. Your application is active (remember to share your link to help increase your chances of being selected and raise the amount you are eligible for)
  2. You have a fully functioning ActionSprout account that you can log in to and start using right away (for free).

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A note about how we use the data: The information we capture will never be shared in a way that is attributed to individual organizations. We will be analyzing the data in aggregate to help the sector understand how to make Facebook ads more effective in serving their missions.

We do not sell or license any information or data to anyone.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

Get Started  Learn More

Connecting ActionSprout to Action Network Through Zapier

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ActionSprout to action network with zapier

If you’re reading this you have an ActionSprout account and a Action Network account, and wish to connect the two so that the supporters you collect via ActionSprout are automatically synced with Action Network.

The good news is you can make this connection through Zapier.

I you haven’t heard of Zapier, it’s a tool that lets you automatically share data and information from one tool to another. It deals with all the formatting and uploading so you don’t have to.

To get started we’re going to assume you already have a ActionSprout and Action Network account. (If not you can follow the links and create those accounts now.)

Connecting Action Network

The first thing we’re going to do is create a Zapier account.

Once you’re all set up we’re going to create a zap. Zaps are the automatic triggers that move data from one tool to the other.

Inside your dashboard click Make a New Zap.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

You’ll be prompted to set up both sides of the connection. “When this happens” and “do this”.

On the left select ActionSprout as the app and Action Completed as the trigger underneath. It should look like this:

Note: In order to access the ActionSprout app click here. 

ActionSprout to action network with zapierOn the right select Action Network as the app and Subscribe a person to your Action Network email list as your action. It should look like this:

Note: In order to access the Action Network app click here. 

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Click continue.

Next you’ll connect your ActionSprout account. When connecting a new account you’ll be prompted to fill in the following information:

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

To find your API Key and Organization Identifier log into your ActionSprout account.

Click the Account tab then, Integrations. 

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Scroll to the bottom of the Integrations page and find Zapier. There you will find your Key and ID. Copy these and paste them into Zapier.

Click continue.

Now you’re going to connect your Action Network account. Click the orange connect button.

Like before you’ll be prompted to name your account and provide an API key.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

To access your key, first log into your Action Network account. At the top of your dashboard page you’ll find a big Start Organizing drop down menu.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Inside this menu under the Details column select API & SYNC. 

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Inside this screen you’ll create your API Key. Click the blue Generate API Key button. Once generated copy your key and paste it into Zapier.

Please note: In order to generate an API key you must be a Action Network partner. You can learn more here.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Click continue.

Next you’ll be asked to set up some filters. This section is option. Fill out what you’d like and click continue.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Next you’ll match up your two account. Select a form and some sample data to make the match. (This is a good time to create a new form to hold your ActionSprout supporters if you haven’t already)

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Click continue.

Next you’ll test your zap. Click the test button.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

You’ll now use the sample data you just entered to test the connection. Test the zap and click continue.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Almost there! Name your new zap and turn it on.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

Now your new zap will appear in your list under My Zaps.

ActionSprout to action network with zapier

To be on the safe side let’s double check the connection. Jump into your ActionSprout account and either take one of your own actions or have a colleague. Then jump in your Action Network account and double check the information came through.

This may take a minute. Once you see the new data come through you’re done, the connection has been successfully made!

Now all future action takers will be automatically pushed into your Action Network account.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Guide to Writing Effective Petitions Everytime

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Effective petitions

Crafting Effective Petitions

Petitions on Facebook can help your organization engage supporters, engage the press, and put pressure on influencers, among other things. An ActionSprout petition on Facebook is a powerful tool to reach a wide audience and, when finished, compile the signatures into a CSV so you can export and deliver them easily.

A petition, in general, is a tactic in its own right and requires its own strategy to implement successfully. They are as difficult as you make them. Like many things, getting lost down any number of rabbit holes is all too easy. Also, like many things, chess makes a great analogy.


A strategy is a plan to drive a broader set of goals. It consists of a series of tactics and requires the use of specific resources to achieve those goals. To develop a good chess strategy you need to know the board, the pieces (how the function and work in concert), and the opponent – in chess the purpose is given.

Similarly, when writing a petition you need to know, the purpose (goal of the game), the audience (the pieces, both yours and the opposition’s pieces, if any), the recipient of the finished petition and anyone who stands in the way (the opponent), and the environment (the board).

We’ll look at these individually and develop a little scenario along the way.


This is the core of our discussion. Everything that follows grows from the purpose. Do you intend to deliver your petition to a specific influencer? Is your petition for gathering data about a topic? Alternatively, is it just to engage an audience?

If the purpose is the latter of the three then, have fun, and go nuts. Write it how ever you like, send it out, and promote it. Done.

However, your strategy needs more calculation if you want to deliver the petition or use it for data collection.

The first step is to clearly identify the problem, the solution, who can change it, and if it’s urgent. If it is urgent, leverage it.

In our scenario:

“There are no trash, recycling, or compost bins in the park” (Problem)

“We need 12 trash, recycling, and compost bins, at the entrances and elsewhere” (Solution)

“City Council” (Who)

“There is broken glass, and other junk, making play unsafe” (urgency)

This defines the battlefield, everyone in it, and what success looks like. We’ll construct it into a meaningful headline later.

Answer the following:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the solution?
  3. Who can fix it?
  4. Is it urgent? Why?


Second, you must know your audience, how to speak to them, what they care about, and why they should care about you, your petition, and your mission. Developing a clear and pointed purpose will help you convey this. Knowing your audience (pieces) will help you convey it in a way they can understand.

audience Effective petitions

Let’s say the park is a popular place, or it would be, for moms (lower to middle class, conservative, 25-40), their kids, and dog walkers.

Answer the following:

  1. Who/what is affected by the problem?
  2. Who cares about the affect population? Why?
  3. What do both populations look like?
  4. Why would they move into action?


The city council in our example may not explicitly oppose the idea. They may not even know the problem exists, or they might, but require an outcry to leverage change. In either case, you need to know why the change hasn’t happened yet and what is required to overcome the barriers. Your job is not just to generate outcry, but give solutions and or tools to help your mission move.

hippy Effective petitions

Is it a budget issue, the cans and installation is too expensive in this budget cycle? Is it an issue of continuing care, who will empty the full cans?

In our scenario, it is not a budget issue but a community education and continuing care issue.

Answer the following:

  1. Who can fix it?
  2. Why hasn’t it been fixed yet?
  3. What is preventing it being fixed?
  4. What is in it for them to fix the problem?

This last question sounds terribly selfish but it is honest.


Defining the board defines the political, social, and economic environment. Bringing recycling and compost bins to a highly conservative community may not go over very well. The bins may not get used, hence the need for a public education campaign. Is this an election year where a city council contender could use this campaign as a talking point?

checking out the landscape Effective petitions

Asking and answering questions such as these will define the landscape and further refine your strategy and tactics.

Let’s say that our environment is conservative, mid west, maybe, small town, with an average education at the undergraduate level. There is a city council seat up for grabs and, luck would have it, a woman has thought about running. She doesn’t have kids but she does walk her dog in the park.

Answer the following:

  1. Is the problem one that the community can or will get behind? Why/whynot?
  2. Is there ongoing care? Who is responsible?
  3. How will it be paid for?
  4. How do you frame your argument in a way that can be understood by all.


Tactics are activities that use specific resources to achieve smaller objectives to advance the overall strategy. In this context, we are talking about rhetoric, delivery of the message, and the finished petition.


Simply stated, rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive communication. In our petition, we need to frame the argument for bins in the park in a way that everyone can understand. Not only do we need to use the right frame but the right words and phrases as well.

frame Effective petitions

In our conservative little town, targeting moms, and leveraging an up and coming city council member, the question remains. How do we frame the message?

Safety. Of course! Let’s make the park safe for our kids. This i where we refer back to our purpose to craft a great headline.

Tell our city council to make our park safe by installing trash bins.

Given the target demographic and average education, the language in the petition should be simple and straightforward, and short. Moms don’t have time, or the want, to read 10 pages of legalese. The rest of the town probably doesn’t either.


ActionSprout gives you the ability to export a printable list of signatures that you can drop onto someone’s desk. In many cases that’s all that’s needed.

delivery Effective petitions

However…theatrics can be fun.

In our scenario, a sack full of cards, drawn by kids and signed by local towns folk, delivered in a sack by kids and the woman running for office, with the local paper in tow, accompanied by a full printed list, might move the needle on this issue.

Have a plan to deal with a volley of questions about community education, continuing care, costs and so on. It’s a good thing we talked about that ahead of time.

The point is to deliver an impactful story that everyone can understand – story being the operative word here.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Sproutlets: Speak Softly and Pack a Wallop

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Curating content alton brown

Curating content on Facebook should be a huge part of your content strategy.

Content is at Facebook’s core. In the past content has served a somewhat singular purpose, inform or entertain readers with the intent to convert them to fans and supporters. In other words, your content is a unitasker.

At ActionSprout, we don’t tolerate unitaskers.

With a Sproutlet you can add an action to nearly any article, blog post, or web page in seconds. Easily poll your readers. Quickly collect signatures. Newsjack the latest trending topics in less time than it take to order a latte. Newsjacking has never been faster. Your content is now working for you, collecting data, engaging your base, and increasing your reach. Basically, Sproutlets transform your content into a multitasker.

Why use Sproutlets?

They are Super Easy, Super Fast

Sproutlets are designed to be the easiest and fastest way to add an action. On the most basic level, you only need to copy and paste a URL, click “save and continue”, on the next page, you’ll click “share and post”.

That’s it.

Curating content sproutlet

Once posted, the Sproutlet appears at the footer of the page you added it to. From there, a user can weigh in on and share the topic with a single click.

Curating content in the wild

Powerful Newsjacking

This is not a new idea. PR firms have been newsjacking for decades. Now, with a 24-hour news cycle, it’s more important than ever to be responsive and fast.

When a news event aligns with your mission or a topic that might engage your audience emerges, turn it into a Sproutlet. You are riding the wave, taking advantage of the attention to the topic and compelling your supporters to act by engaging them in a conversation.

Keep Your Traffic

When a user clicks on an article you share they are taken away from Facebook and away from you. This creates a barrier for them to return. Once they have left, that’s it, they are gone until next time. A Sproutlet keeps the user engaged with you and your cause. When using Sproutlets, they never leave your side on their journey through your news feed.

Curating content traffic

No Time to Compose a Post?

Your content strategy should be an 80/20 mixture of curated and original content. Sproutlets make the curated 80% that much more powerful. Unlike a normal ActionSprout Action, there is no need to gussy up titles and descriptions. Just paste the link, decide on buttons, or leave the defaults, and go.

Sproutlet or Traditional Action

There are some key differences between Sproutlets and Traditional ActionSprout Actions actions.

1.) The action title, image and description only appear on Facebook. Unlike normal actions, your title, image, and description are only seen in the Facebook News Feed. Once a supporter clicks on your link, they will see your call to action and action button(s).

Curating content on facebook

2.) You cannot ask for additional data. When creating a typical ActionSprout Action you can pop into your data tab and chose what additional data you’d like to collect. This feature is not available when creating a Sproutlet.

Curating content

3.) You cannot ask for or collect donations with Sproutlets.

4.) Sproutlets do not support Facebook comments.

5.) Sproutlets cannot be your default action.

Pro tip

Make your message short, impactful, and keep the button simple. Sproutlets are all about being fast, impactful, and pointed. The easier you make it for supporters to participate, the more they will participate.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Cecil The Lion: Daily Kos Wins with Trending Story

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justice for cecil the lion

Engage Supporters, Spread Your Cause and Grow Your Email List with Trending Content

Updated July 30th, 20015 11:30am PST 

On July 28th the story of Cecil the Lion started to trend on social media. It wasn’t long before the hash tag #CecilTheLion had topped the list on Twitter trends.

In case you missed the story, Cecil was a protected lion killed for sport by a now hated American dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer, who is believed to have paid about $55,000 for the privilege. Cecil the lion was one of the most beloved and famous animals in Zimbabwe’s national parks.

Quickly Dr. Palmer was wanted by Zimbabwe officials and became the most hated man on the internet. The people were demanding justice.

Daily Kos saw the story and quickly spun up an ActionSprout call to action demanding the justice supporters so desperately desired.

The results were amazing. 

Within five hours of posting the action on Facebook they were nearing 16,000 actions completed.

When the dust settled two days later Daily Kos had earned over 70,000 signatures.

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Daily Kos’ Engagement rates were through the roof!

  • 41% of viewers completed the action
  • 90% of folks who engaged with the post (liked, commented or shared) went on to complete it
  • 6.2% of all impressions lead to action completions
  • 63.5% of their reach was viral

At one point, 857 people were on at once signing the petition!

cecil GA


What made this action about Cecil the Lion so successful?

  1. It was based on a trending topic. Trending topics and breaking news always perform well as actions. It’s a good idea to keep your eye open for stories that apply to your cause.
  2. It was a trending topic people were passionate about. Passionate is an understatement when it comes to Cecil the lion. A group of supporters on Twitter were asking for blood at one point. People were fired up about Cecil.
  3. Daily Kos used a mobile optimized action. Daily Kos used a mobile optimized action. As you can see the majority of action takers were doing so from a mobile device. More and more supporters are accessing Facebook content and petitions from their mobile devices.

What does this mean at the end of the day?

You may be thinking “Sure this is interesting, but how can this help my nonprofit?”

When supporters completed Daily Kos’s action they opted into their mailing list. In five hours time Daily Kos had added almost 20,000 supporter email address to their mailing list. These supporters knowingly opted into their mailing list in support of Cecil and Daily Kos at large.

So what could a trending action do for your nonprofit? A lot- potentially thousands of new email address.

Want to take advantage of trending actions for your cause? Learn more about ActionSprout and get started for free. 

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Cast a Wider Net With Advertising

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Increase the reach of your best-performing actions & seamlessly integrate new supporters

Paid email acquisition can be an excellent strategy to grow your base of donors and supporters—and when done right, it can pay for itself. In the last couple years, more and more organizations are finding that paid Facebook email growth can be the lowest cost and highest return option. And if you are able to develop a budget for email acquisition, no matter how small, you can easily try this method for yourself.

Keep the following six points in mind as you begin to use Facebook advertising to promote your best actions.

Pay only to promote the best

Before diving into the rest, you’ll want to follow this first simple rule: only pay for your highest-performing content. It’s simple enough, but it has a huge impact on success. Whether using “boosted posts” or creating new ads, make sure to only put real money behind content that would naturally get high performance with your audience. If you can, use your Facebook Page to organically test posts to see which one would do the best. By spending money on only high-performing content, you’ll ensure the lowest-cost ads and the highest sign-ups.


Effective ads mean effective targeting

If you are going to pay to promote actions, you want to be sure to only promote to the right people—people who are not already on your list and who look like your supporters. And fortunately, Facebook can make sure you do just that.

3 goals every Facebook Manager should track

There are two basic types of audiences that you can start with for targeting:

Custom Audiences: Allows you to upload your entire email list. This can have a match rate between 30% and 70%, reducing how many of your current supporters see your paid ads.

Lookalike Audiences: Allows you to take the email list you uploaded via custom audience and create a lookalike audience to use to target new supporters that look like your current supporters. You can also target people who visit your website using a remarketing pixel and create a lookalike audience of this group as well.

But just know that targeting can be as much art as science and you want to tweak and experiment as you go. There’s a whole host of other creative ways to target your ads. You can target people by demographics such as age, gender, political affiliation, or by behaviors such as charitable giving. One of the more powerful targeting tools is “interests”, which targets people who like specific pages, allowing you to connect with people who like pages similar to your own.

Choose the right kind of ad

Once your targeting groups are all set, consider what type of ad you want to run. Generally speaking, ads fall into the following categories:

CPC/PPC: This method is the easiest to control. It’s exactly like the Pay-Per-Click advertising that’s been around a long time via Google. If someone clicks on your ad, then boom—you’re going to pay the price you bid.

CPM/PPM: Instead of clicks, you pay a certain amount for 1,000 impressions or views. Do keep in mind that CPM ads never sleep and can run around the clock, so your costs could get out of control if you’re not careful.

CPA: This is where you pay for specific actions: Page likes, app installs, clicking links, etc.

When considering what type of ad you want to run on Facebook, there are two important points to keep in mind: objective and optimization.

There are a few different types of objectives to choose from as you are creating your ad:

  • Clicks to site
  • Web conversions
  • Page post engagement

And within each of these objectives, you can optimize for different outcomes:

  • Post engagement
  • Daily unique reach
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Web conversions

There’s no magic formula here and objectives and optimization will vary depending on your ad goals. However, many organizations are finding success for email growth using ads with an objective of page post engagement optimized for post engagement. It’s an easy place to start as it allows you to focus on only promoting the posts that are getting great initial organic traction. Another popular type is web conversion ads so consider giving that a try too.

As you work more with your organization’s Facebook ads, you’ll learn what combination of objectives and optimizations work best for your organization.

Creating a budget

Aim to pay just $10–$20 and watch what happens before spending more. If thing are going well, increase the ad spend over time. If your bid starts too high, it could increase the overall cost of your ad buy! Keep in mind that as you ramp up, you might increase the cost in the long run.


At this point, it’s important to know what you are willing to pay. Whatever tactics you use for recruiting Facebook supporters to your email program and beyond, make sure that you’re measuring it every step of the way. You’ll want to track cost and outcomes, but consider tracking staff time as well. Make sure this effort is as efficient as possible and that you are getting the best returns.

Try tracking:

  • Cost/engagement
  • Cost/action taker
  • Cost/new name
  • Progress to daily budget

If you are using ActionSprout with a eCRM like Convio or NationBuilder, you can easily sync your data to find out what percentage of email addresses are new to your list in real time. Otherwise, establish a baseline of new names per action for your organization so that you can estimate cost/new name and then upload the new names once a week to verify that you are on track.

Tracking success

It’s important to track the long-term performance of Facebook-acquired names to make sure that ActionSprout list growth is the right investment for your organization. Sometimes a full Return On Investment (ROI) picture can take to 18–24 months. As you’re thinking about long-term investment, consider the following:


  • Are the acquired supporters still accepting email?
  • How many additional actions have the acquired supporters taken?
  • How many new supporters have made online/offline gifts or joined your organization?
  • After the first month, how are these names performing compared to other acquisition channels?

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Convert Your Facebook Fans to Emails

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Once you have built an energized and engaged Facebook community for your organization, it’s time to ensure that it’s having the greatest impact on your mission possible. While social media is growing into a direct source of fundraising, email is still where most online fundraising takes place. Not only is email fundraising a reliable source of revenue, it also allows you to cultivate relationships with donors through another channel and communicate more directly with your supporters.



The key to successful email list building on Facebook is giving your Facebook community a reason to take an action that provides you with their contact information. We call this a “Call to Action”. And once you find a good action, you can use it again and again.

Picking a Good Call to Action

Be audience-centric: The most important part of creating a call to action is putting your audience first. In order to be audience-centric, you need to know your community. Each post that you send out is an opportunity to learn something about your supporters. Look for patterns and clues; what actions and issues do they engage with most readily? If you don’t have good data from Facebook, what about from email or even offline conversations? When it comes to calls to action, past performance is a great predictor of future success.

Tip: Use Facebook Insights or ActionSprout’s Timeline to look at your posts and find what’s working.

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Solvable: Your audience has to believe that taking your action will lead to some positive change. Can you express what that change is and how the action will help?

Writing Social Content

Whether you are writing for a Facebook post or the action landing page, keep these tips in mind:

Be motivational: Using a motivational format can help catalyze people to take action. Try this simple format: state the problem, share the solution and tell people how they can take action to make that solution a reality.

hang in there

Just right: You don’t want it to go too long or too short. For a post, don’t be shy about a full paragraph so long as you aren’t adding in filler. And if people are actually bothering to read the content on your landing page, it usually requires a few paragraphs to help move them to take action.

Be clear: When you ask supporters to take action, make sure it is very focused. You don’t want your supporters to have to think too hard or they will simply scroll on by. Think about your causally involved supporter and make sure that they would understand the problem and the solution.

Be consistent: Just have one simple call to action, such as signing a petition, pledging support, volunteering, etc. Copy that call to action over and over again throughout your content, so that it remains clear what you are asking people to do.

call to action example

Try putting your call to action right up front. Use language like “SIGN THIS LETTER to XYZ” or “PLEDGE NOW to XYZ”. Then, add another couple of sentences that provide color to the topic and the action you are asking people to take.

Tap into emotion: Why do you care about this action? Seriously, if you don’t care about it, why would you expect anyone else to care about it? Why do you believe that members of your community care about this issue? Try creating an evocative hook that speaks to the heart of the matter.

It’s always urgent: You only have your supporters’ attention for a few seconds. You need to find a way to convey that this action needs to be taken right away!

Tips: Set a goal, have a deadline, and talk about a growing challenge or impending decision.

Make action-takers look good: Facebook is a social space. Your action should be something that members of your community want to be seen supporting. Will taking this action make your supporters look good to their friends and family? Ask yourself what your friends would think about you if they saw that you have taken this action.

Facebook Taking Action

Have a target for your action: Having a clear and understandable target to which your action is directed makes a big difference. So is having a clear and specific goal for what you are asking that person to do, e.g. keeping open a children’s hospital, saving a local park, passing legislation, etc.

3 goals every Facebook Manager should track

The Right Image

Picking the photo: Make sure that the image is powerful and attention-grabbing, but also relates directly to your action. Think of the image as a shorthand for your action. Will people understand the theme just by looking at your image? Will it catch their attention? And you can use free images from sources like Creative Commons if you don’t have the budget—just make sure to follow their citation requirements.

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Be consistent: Your image should be the same for both the post and the ActionSprout landing page.

Optimize for a link post: This is a biggie. Facebook’s link post format for images is optimal because when clicked, it will take your supporters directly to the landing page. Make sure that the image is 1200×627.

Make the text count: If you have the ability, add your call to action to the image. Free tools like PicMonkey are great for this. If you decide to run ads as well, keep the text to no more than 20% of the image.

Power Tips

Be transparent: People care about the data, so it’s good to have a very clear privacy policy. Explain exactly how you’ll be using the data. Even something as simple as this can do the trick: “XX organization may send you periodic updates; you can unsubscribe at any time.”

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Repost the best: The best actions deserve to go out again and again. Since only a small portion of your supporters will see any given post, make sure to keep reusing the best. When you find an action that is working well, use it until it stops working.

Create many actions: Some actions will do great and some will bomb—that’s just how it is on social. But the more you create, the more chance you’ll have to get a viral hit. Some organizations create at least one new action a day—if that’s more than you can do, shoot for two a week.

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.

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How to Effectively Onboard New Supporters

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Welcome Them Home

You have great new names… now what?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be new to your organization? You sign a pledge or petition, offer to volunteer, maybe rsvp at an event and all of sudden, you are receiving a stream of information in your inbox. If you want that transition to be welcoming and not bewildering, try creating a thoughtful on-boarding program with a welcome series.


A welcome series allows you to:

  • Effectively engage with and inform new supporters, action takers, donors and members
  • Build early affinity with your organization
  • Prime your audience for more online communication
  • Secure early, additional online actions and gifts

When building a series, try creating conditional content to tailor welcome emails to different audiences such as brand new supporters vs. donors or members vs. action takers.

Now let’s address the issue of timing. There is some variety out there, but typically a welcome series should consist of three emails spanning 10 days. The first message should arrive within 24 hours of the constituent’s addition to your email list. The following two messages then follow, spaced about 3–5 days apart.

During the 10-day period, the constituents receiving the welcome series should be excluded from all other emails from your organization.

What should these messages look like? Let’s take a look.

Message 0: Auto-responder Email when a New Email is Added

This is the “receipt” that email supporters receive when they complete an “action” via ActionSprout or other tools. Other actions could be completing an email subscription form, a survey, an action alert, a donation form or any other form of engagement.


Try including a line in your autoresponder telling recipients that they are now subscribed to your emails and can look forward to receiving more soon. This is also a great place to include information about how supporters should get more involved online (social media, blog posts, etc.) and offline (volunteering, events, etc.). These auto-responders serve as the perfect primer for the welcome series to come.

Message 1: Welcome and Survey

For the first message in the welcome series, try a brief survey with questions designed to engage new constituents right away as well as build some early affinity with your organization. The purpose of the survey questions is to get new constituents to interact and engage with your mission and goals. This message can be tailored to the subscriber’s status recognizing action taker, member, or donor status. Make sure to keep it simple!


Message 2: Evergreen Action

For the second message in the welcome series, try an action alert email featuring a strong evergreen action. Evergreen actions are actions that will be relevant for a long period of time so you don’t have to keep changing it. This action should give new constituents a window into your organization’s advocacy work and an opportunity to take an action (or another action) early.


Message 3: Donate or Join Ask

For the last message in the welcome series, it’s best to include an evergreen fundraising appeal for members and a membership ask for non-members. The purpose of this message is not necessarily getting people to give to this email or become a member right from this email (although that will happen now and again), but instead getting supporters primed to make future gifts and membership contributions online. Tests have shown that asking for financial support early can lead to increased donations later.

donation jar

Automatic Sends

The most effective way to make sure that your welcome series emails are always going out is to set them up automatically to send. Many tools like Salsa, Convio and Nationbuilder allow this.

Note for Convio users: To do this effectively, you will need to create the following groups in Convio:


Exclude group to be added to all emails that go out from your organization: to exclude users who are in the welcome series from other communications until they are out of the welcome series:

(System Creation Time falls on or after 14 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 0 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

Send groups for message 1,2,3 (groups to rebuild on send)

For Message 1: (System Creation Time falls on or after 3 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 0 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

For Message 2: (System Creation Time falls on or after 7 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 5 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

For Message 3: (System Creation Time falls on or after 12 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 9 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

Groups of all action takers, ActionSprout names, members, non-member donors, and any other distinguishing groups your organization has (set to rebuild daily at midnight)

These can just be big queries of anyone that falls in the categories that are important to your organization. These groups should rebuild daily. These will be to use for conditional content within the messages to customize the series based on supporters’ status, not as send groups.

Then, once all these queries and groups are set up and the messages are built, you’ll set them up for a recurring delivery at a chosen time (11am every day is a good place to start), and the messages will roll out and welcome your supporters automatically!

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Building an Engaged Support Base on Facebook

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Growing your Facebook Page isn’t about Fan Count. You can have 1 million+ fans, but if no one is paying attention to your posts, it’s just not that useful. Instead, focus on engagement: the cumulative likes, clicks, shares and comments that each post receives. It’s Facebook’s currency by which everything else is driven. Engaged supporters are more likely to see your posts, like your Page, share with others, and take meaningful actions like RSVPing, joining your email list and even donating. Engagement is a consistent number that you can grow overtime.

organically_grow_your nonprofit facebook page

In fact, you can use engagement as a predictor of how many people will move to take an email action promoted on any given post. If 100 people engage with your average link post, then you can expect around 10–20% to take a higher-level action promoted in a post like “sign a petition” or “take a pledge”. That translates to roughly 10–20 people taking action on your average post with a call to action. So if your goal is ultimately to grow your email list, start by growing your engagement.

Here are 7 easy-to-use tips to grow your engagement:

Do what works: Building a successful Facebook community isn’t about hacking Facebook’s algorithm; it’s about creating content that your audience wants to be seen engaging with. Look for patterns—certain issues, images, types of posts—that have worked on your own Page before, or Pages doing similar work with a similar audience. When you find content that works, do more of it!

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And finding patterns is easy. You can always check Facebook Insights to track your post performance or use free tools like ActionSprout’s visual Timeline.

It’s about being seen: People engage with content on Facebook because they want to be seen engaging with it. As a Page manager, your job is to give people content and actions that help them show their friends something about themselves. Post content and offer up actions that they can take to show their friends who they are and what they care about. Does your content make them look smart, caring and fun? These are the things they want to engage with.

Post better content:

Only a small percentage of your supporters will see any single post that you send out. We’ve been told by Facebook that as long as you post good content, you can’t over post. And we’ve seen Pages post as much as 30 times a day and thrive. You don’t have to do that, but here’s how to quickly get more great content up on your Page.

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We’re all curators now: Look for content that is doing well on Pages with similar audiences or that create content you think your audience likes. Then either share those posts on your own Page or look to them for inspiration when you set out to create new posts for your community.

If you can, focus on over performance. If something is doing really well for the Page that it’s on, if it has a similar audience, or it’s an issue you work with, it’ll probably over perform for your Page too.


  • ActionSprout Inspiration
  • Crowdtangle
  • Buzzsumo
  • Topsy
  • Facebook Trends, Lists

Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you post should have already proven itself to have some viral potential. The other 20% can be totally raw and new. But don’t be surprised when most of that fails to take off. The 80% includes posts that look like posts you’ve seen work on your Page before; reposted content that previously worked on your Page; curated content that has succeeded elsewhere; and new content that was inspired by successful posts from a similar Page.

80 20

The real heroes: Post content that celebrates your donors and supporters as heroes. Give your Facebook community ways to join you in thanking and celebrating them with you. Putting your heroes at the front can generate great engagement and also build direct relationships.

lcv after

Have a conversation: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your job is done when you push the “Publish” button on a great post. Creating real relationships with supporters and donors on Facebook requires real dialog. Ask questions in your posts, reply to comments, like and share comments made by your supporters, etc.

Post multiple times a day: Every organization has limited capacity, so use what time you have wisely and post at least a few times a day. The more often someone sees your content and engages with it, the better your relationship will be. To keep the volume up, don’t hesitate to repost a great piece of content from last week or share a piece of content from other Facebook Pages.

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

Get Started  Learn More

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

Get Started  Learn More