When Advocacy Works in Reverse

January 22, 2018 Ashley Davis

By  on Sep 19, 2017


A row of ducks with one going in reverse.

We take for granted a natural progression. Donors support your non-profit via gifts and volunteerism, they want to share your mission with others, and then they become super advocates. The best almost become an extension of your staff as they look for ways to do more over time. 

But, what if you could create a super advocate first, and then work in reverse towards the relationship of consistent donor?  

Riverside Healthcare Foundation discovered that this reverse order works best to engage the younger generation of advocates while cultivating our future donor base. We know our vitality and longevity is directly connected to building relationships with community leaders and donors.  

How Nonprofit Advocacy Works in Reverse


The challenge:  

Most influencers under 40 have not yet needed healthcare beyond the labor & deliver wing. Thus, they don’t quickly connect to our cause.  


The opportunity:  

This age group is much quicker to contribute time and talents than dollars. Riverside has a strong reputation as largest employer and non-profit in the area, so we could offer opportunities to connect these young professionals.  


The solution:

We flipped the advocacy model upside down by creating RiversidePULSE. 

RiversidePULSE is an advisory group of community leaders 40 and younger with a passion to “keep a pulse on” opportunities for community connection to Riverside. Through quarterly meetings and 2-year terms, PULSE members work alongside the formal Riverside Foundation Board with 3 goals: engage, educate, and elevate the health of our community.  

As we educate PULSE members about exciting initiatives during quarterly meetings, they naturally become advocates and spokespeople within their spheres of influence. These young professionals’ are quick to engage their social networks, building awareness and engagement as promoters.  

What surprised us is that 70% of members either made a gift to the annual campaign or via event attendance before graduating from the group. More than half of that group successfully invited professionals from their network to support Riverside for the first time. 

This young professional board certainly embodies super-advocates, playing double duty as an acquisition strategy both for the members and their networks! Just as a pulse brings life to a body, Riverside PULSE members have energized the body that is our community. 

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