Winning the Internet

Where are your supporters on the Ladder of Engagement?

Ladder of engagementIf you work in the social change space, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Ladder of Engagement. It’s the idea that people are likely to become supporters of your organization by taking easy actions, but can be consciously led (up the ladder, if you will) to take harder and harder actions.

Before you start planning out how you’re going to lead your supporters up the ladder, it’s a good idea to find out where they fall on the ladder. I call this a Ladder of Engagement Snapshot. It’s essentially a report that breaks down how many supporters you have on each rung of your ladder.

The Ladder of Engagement Snapshot is great because you can use it to inform the actions you run in the future, and can run it again to see if you’ve successfully moved your supporters up the ladder.

The first step in creating a Ladder of Engagement Snapshot is defining your ladder. Make a list of the types of actions your organization runs, then put them into order from easy to hard. You may decide that several easier actions can earn someone a higher place on the ladder. You also may want to label the different levels on the ladder. For example, your ladder could looks something like this (starting with easy actions, then building up to harder ones):

  • Inactives: Are subscribed to email list but haven’t taken action in the last three months.
  • Supporters: Have signed 1-2 petitions in the last three months.
  • Activists: Have signed 3-4 petitions in the last three months, but have not taken any other actions.
  • Super Activists: Have signed >4 petitions in the last three months, and/or have written a letter to the editor.

You’ll need to decide if you’d like to include donations in your ladder. This is a personal choice. Some organizations feel that that makes sense for them, while others prefer to track donations separately.

The next step is to query your database to find out how many supporters fall onto each level of the ladder. Exactly how you go about doing this depends on your action-taking tool. If you’re unsure about how to do this with your particular tool, contact customer service, or ask a peer (or even a list like Progressive Exchange).

You may find it helpful to go back and refine your ladder a little bit based on the information that’s available in your particular tool. That’s completely reasonable.

Once you’ve got your Ladder of Engagement Snapshot, be sure to share your findings throughout your organization so others can also benefit from knowing a little more about your organization’s supporters. Also, run the report regularly to measure change over time. Twice a year should do the trick!


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the New Media Program Director for Netroots Foundation and Lead Mentor for New Media Mentors. She aims to use her business school background and nonprofit experience to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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Comments

  1. […] dominant paradigm of activism is the ladder of engagement. In this model, there are a series of rungs leading from the most insignificant actions to the most […]

  2. […] dominant paradigm of activism is the ladder of engagement. In this model, there are a series of rungs leading from the most insignificant actions to the most […]