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2020 in review: 10 things we've learned about supporter engagement

We analyzed data from 4.2M volunteers, and have distilled them into 10 unique insights to advance your supporter engagement in 2021.

In the four years since 2016, Mobilize has become the destination for mission-driven volunteering, and the fastest-growing network for social impact.

Over 3,000 orgs hosted 340k events and online actions, through which 4.2 million volunteers took 15 million actions. (Many of these actions centered around the historic 2020 elections, whether Mobilize played a crucial role).

We’ve analyzed data from these 3,000 orgs and 15 million actions, and have distilled them into 10 unique insights to help you advance your supporter engagement in 2021.


1. Volunteer-hosted events drastically increase organizational capacity and geographic reach.

We’ve seen 35,000 volunteers host events on Mobilize. They make up 24% of all events on the platform. Across Mobilize organizations that leverage volunteer-events, there are 5x more volunteer-hosts than admin-hosts. The most prolific organizations have 10x more. During the primaries, there were large swaths of the country that only had volunteer-hosted events (including all of Alaska and Hawaii).


2. Volunteer-hosted events drive engagement within your supporter base.

Mobilize automatically prompts supporters to take on leadership positions after they have attended events with an organization, helping to introduce new networks to your mission. We found that supporters whose first event is volunteer-hosted are 2x more likely to be retained in future months.


3. Think about supporters holistically: volunteers are donors too!

Traditionally, mission-driven organizations have thought of volunteers and donors as separate groups of people, leaving both engagement and fundraising opportunities on the table. In reality, supporters who volunteer their time are 2x more likely to donate. On Mobilize, 8% of supporters shown a donation prompt initiate a donation. The average donation initiated is $35. This year, supporters on Mobilize made over 84k donations, contributing more than $2m to mission-driven organizations and progressive campaigns.

4. Leveraging the Mobilize network expands your reach and grows your list.

Organizations on the platform benefit from 38% more signups from the Mobilize network. This shows up in four ways:

  • Cross-promotion: Organizations on Mobilize can cross-promote each other’s events, building awareness and driving signups from each other’s audiences. This drives 9% of all sign-ups on the platform!
  • Mobilize.us feed: Our centralized Mobilize.us feed features every event on the platform, and has grown to be the 5th largest Mobilize dashboard in terms of monthly shifts—that’s hundreds of thousands of volunteers visiting each month.
  • Bring-a-friend prompts: Mobilize drives 14% more signups on average by automatically prompting supporters to bring a friend, growing your list with zero effort.
  • Pre-fill: We pre-fill known supporter data (like name and email) in event signup forms, increasing signups by 11%.

5. Play to your audience! Think about what your supporters may look for in an event.

Different demographics look for different things in volunteer opportunities. In 2020, the largest age group on Mobilize was 25-34, reflecting the high youth voter turnout. This had grown since 2018. 62% of all volunteers are women, indicating that they are the driving force behind real change

In general, older generations are more traditional volunteers, preferring to serve by lending a hand (delivering meals, cleaning up a neighborhood), while Millennials prefer to get involved in unique ways, usually by donating skilled labor that requires training or experience.


6. It’s important to have a virtual-first strategy, featuring a variety of creative events.

When COVID-19 hit in mid-March, the percentage of virtual events on Mobilize went from ~25% to 99%. This number now hovers around 95%. Not only was no momentum lost, but it grew stronger: more events were created and more supporters were engaged.

Learn more:

6 clever virtual events on Mobilize in May

Virtual volunteering examples: 13 creative events on Mobilize

7 virtual volunteer strategies in a time of social distancing

5 creative virtual event ideas for Earth Day

7. Be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE. You need an organizing strategy (and toolset) before a major event.

It’s essential to cultivate an organization when there is nothing going on by hosting regular events and leveraging them as content. The organizations with a proper supporter engagement toolset and strategy are the ones who weathered this year’s many storms.

Prior to Trump’s efforts to discount election results, Protect The Results created a coalition and joined Mobilize, where their volunteers ultimately planned over 600 events during the weeks following the election

When COVID-19 hit, Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY scrambled to find a platform to recruit and retain supporters virtually. They now leverage Mobilize and are prepared for future crises.

8. Supporters seek social engagement in their volunteer experiences. Use a tool that fosters community.

Supporters come for the mission and stay for the people. We found that by a supporter’s 5th signup on Mobilize, 37% of signups are with people they've taken action with before. Mobilize capitalized on that this year by launching Group chat; through this feature, we’ve seen supporters share logistics, craft strategies, take action, and connect before and after events.

9. Regular, repetitive efforts to retain people work. Make key asks at peak moments of engagement

Mobilize sends automated emails and text messages at key moments, including after supporters sign up for actions, confirm attendance, or provide feedback on events. Our partners see 15% more signups as a result. We also surface personalized suggestions in a weekly newsletter that contributed 53,000 signups on the platform last month alone.

10. Create a data-driven events strategy.

Mobilize automatically collects feedback from event attendees. 32% respond with in-depth qualitative feedback, helping you adapt your organizing strategy. Similarly, our stats page offers detailed info on shifts, events, users, sources, conversion rates, and promotions. You can also export data to better sort and analyze.

This year, Mobilize also joined the EveryAction family. As the best frontend for your supporter events and actions, Mobilize automatically drives desired behaviors and offers a massive network for growth. EveryAction stores these actions in a unified CRM, creating the ultimate source of truth for your supporter engagement.

Our Senior Advisor Liz Mullen sat down with Jonathan Shields of Human Rights Campaign and Courtney Corbisiero of Biden for President to discuss these insights in detail. Watch below to learn more!

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