engagement pyramids

Your engagement pyramid is the framework that ensures you’re spending the right amount of time on the right people, helps you evaluate your engagement efforts on a global level, and ensures you have the tools to identify your rising stars early and keep them on track. 

Engagement Strategy – Start with Your Pyramid

An engagement pyramid represents all of your organization’s audiences and the roles you need them to play to achieve your mission. Most of us have many low-level supporters at the base of the pyramid who are lightly involved with our work and a small handful of folks at the top of the pyramid who are our champions. As supporters take on more responsibility for your mission, they move from lower to higher levels in your pyramid.
engagement pyramidWith a well-constructed engagement pyramid, an organization understands exactly what activities or qualities define supporters at each level, and how many of those supporters you can count on in each level to take on different pieces of your organization’s work. Unlike an engagement ladder — which usually defines an individual supporter’s single engagement path — the pyramid shows your organization-wide engagement and power.

Here are some standard levels based on the framework developed at our old stomping grounds, Groundwire, originally conceived and thoughtfully documented by Gideon Rosenblatt. Your organization may require more or fewer levels, use different names, or make other adjustments to fit your use case. But these are a good place to start.

Engagement Level 0 “Observers”

Observers are the folks at the bottom of your pyramid who are interested in your work, but you don’t yet have their contact information. These may be your media impressions from paid or earned media, unique website visitors, social media fans, etc. The Observer level is for people who aren’t yet in your database, but you know they exist and are the pool from which your supporters emerge. Learn more about Observers.

Engagement Level 1 “Followers”

Followers are the folks who have raised their hands to become part of your movement. They have given you their contact information (maybe they’ve signed up for your email list), but they haven’t yet taken any further action or made a donation. Learn more about Followers.

Engagement Level 2 “Endorsers”

Endorsers believe in your mission and trust your organization enough to sign a letter to a leader or take other small actions to endorse your organization. We often include modest financial contributions in this level. Learn more about Endorsers.

Engagement Level 3 “Contributors”

Contributors give a significant amount of time or money to your organization, but they have yet to take on a leadership role. Depending on your organization, these contributors may have: volunteered, contributed content, attended paid events and conferences, taken elevated action and/or made a membership or higher level financial contribution.

Engagement Level 4 “Owners”

Owners believe in your organization and your mission so much that they take on meaningful responsibility and authority for reaching your organization’s goals. Owners are your spokespeople, super volunteers, major donors.

Engagement Level 5 “Champions”

Champions are the five or ten people your organization’s Executive Director would call if something big was about to happen. Champions are the rockstars on your board or in other leadership positions. They are the special donors of time, money, influence, and other resources to your organization.

How to Track Engagement at Your Organization

Here are the steps we recommend to develop your engagement pyramid. Get even more help with our DIY Engagement Strategy Guide:

  1. Map a Theory of Change for your organization (your board and every member of your staff should understand your theory of change and be able to explain it).
  2. Define all the audiences that are part of your theory of change (e.g. legislators, property owners, journalists, business leaders, voters, you get the idea…).
  3. Define all the roles that you need these audiences to play in order to achieve your mission.
  4. Honestly weigh your roles. It’s often helpful to compare the value of activities to the value of a contribution…for a $10,000 contribution, could you hire a part-time intern to take on the duties of a weekly volunteer? If so, volunteering weekly would put a supporter in the same level as a $10K donor.
  5. Build your pyramid!

When developing an engagement pyramid, make sure your level definitions are based on qualities or activities that are knowable and that you actively track. Talk to your database admin about what options you have for assigning an engagement level to each individual contact and how you might institute an engagement pyramid that compiles the engagement level of everyone in your database.

If you use Salesforce.org NPSP, check out our engagement tracking app StepUp. In addition to providing an automatic calculation of every contact’s engagement levelt, StepUp’s built-in dashboards help you analyze how many people you have at each engagement level, engagement trends over time, and which campaigns have been the most successful at deepening engagement.

Who’s in that picture? GO Public Schools‘ allies work together to expand access to quality education in California’s underserved communities.