How using real-time data empowered this national federation to pivot its advocacy strategy and reach high levels of engagement.
Founded in 1912, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) was created to provide a forum in which to hold educational meetings, develop publications, and disseminate biological research results. What started as a small group of dedicated scientists has grown to be the nation’s largest coalition of biomedical researchers, representing 29 scientific societies and over 130,000 researchers from around the world.
In September 2020, FASEB began a national advocacy campaign to secure emergency funding for biomedical research. It mobilized its supporters to urge Congress to approve $15.5 billion in emergency funding to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Funding from these two agencies provides the bulk of the support for the research that scientists who are members of FASEB societies produce. It goes directly to higher education institutions supporting principal investigators in their labs.
“The onset of COVID-19 had an immediate impact on researchers,” explains Ellen Kuo, associate director of legislative affairs for FASEB. “Many labs were closed, and with researchers unable to conduct experiments and collect data, it meant that so much was lost — valuable time, research information, equipment, even the live animals used. Restarting research that was paused was going to require money.”
Even more devastating than the loss of valuable research was the potential loss of key talent due to reduced or eliminated funding. Without grant money, younger researchers might find themselves unable to continue ongoing research, secure positions elsewhere in academia, or whether the pandemic until new funding could be secured. Although Congress provided supplemental funds to NIH, that money was restricted to COVID-related research and was not available to scientists working on other areas.
Leveraging Real-Time Data to Adjust the Strategy
FASEB initially kicked off an advocacy campaign using VoterVoice in early September. After sending a few messages, the team was disappointed by a low response of just 40 phone calls. With the help of VoterVoice’s reporting insights and our award-winning customer support, FASEB decided to significantly expand its channels. Follow-up messages encouraged advocates to Tweet and send emails, add a photo to their message, and share the campaign to Facebook and Twitter so that each advocate’s larger network of followers could be connected to the effort.
The impact was immediate and substantial. From just 40 phone calls, the campaign’s engagement leaped to nearly 1,600 actions taken within just a few days.
“We had focused only on phone calls because we thought they would have more impact,” explains Kuo. “When we expanded the campaign to include social media and email, we were thrilled with the results.”
FASEB’s results speak to the expanded landscape for digital advocacy, one that VoterVoice fully supports out of the box. Engaging with advocates requires more than just outreach; it’s important to meet supporters where they are and encourage them to take action where it is most comfortable or convenient for them. While some supporters may have been turned off by the initial requirement for a phone call, the later messages allowed them to have some choice in how they showed their support — and with that choice comes the potential for a wider impact across channels, versus a narrow focus on achieving results through only phone calls.
“It was a very successful campaign in raising awareness,” said Kuo. “We’re planning to use VoterVoice to continue our work to gain this important funding for NIH and NSF to support our members.”
Boosting Your Digital Advocacy Strategy with VoterVoice
Digital advocacy has become more important than ever for advocacy professionals. VoterVoice helps mobilize your supporters to act from the comfort of their own home, using the platform of their liking — be it email, social media, phone, text.
From scheduling and personalizing messages to your advocates and setting up campaigns quickly, to having real-time data on your campaigns to optimize as you go, VoterVoice provides all the digital advocacy tools you need to raise awareness, mobilize your advocates, and shake some action.