Digital Trends


Pandemic and Protests Fuel 

Record Rates of Digital Advocacy


ARLINGTON, Va. - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 10/10/2020 - As the United States grapples with a global pandemic, civic protests and an incredibly polarized political climate, an unprecedented number of citizens are using digital advocacy to engage with government at the local, state and federal level, according to Phone2Action’s annual State of Advocacy report.

Released on Oct. 7, the State of Advocacy 2020 documents the massive growth in digital advocacy during the first half of 2020 and offers a detailed statistical snapshot of citizen activism.

According to anonymized, aggregated insights from Phone2Action’s user data, more than 14 million actions, including email, phone calls, Facebook messages and Tweets, were taken between January and June 2020, eight times more than the same time period in 2016 (the last presidential election year).

The first half of 2020 also generated 3.4 million new advocates for Phone2Action clients, a 121-percent increase over a comparable period in 2018 and a 306-percent increase over 2016, the last two election years.

“Fueled by fears over the pandemic, frustrations over racial injustice and perhaps the most contentious election in a generation, citizens are making their voices heard in new ways and at a new volume,” said Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action. “These New Citizens, who are embracing technology for social good, have completely transformed the advocacy landscape, using every digital tool at their disposal from advocacy software to WhatsApp—even dating apps and gaming systems—to shape policy when it matters most. The world of Washington influence will never be the same.”

Phone2Action’s State of Advocacy report also found:

  • The volume of advocacy email jumped from 7 million in the second half of 2019 to 12.4 million in - the first half of 2020.
  • During the peak of COVID-19, defined as March 13 – May 30: 52,000 people took action every day — roughly 36 people every minute.
  • The percentage of supporters who took action on an advocacy request almost tripled, growing from 6 percent before March 13 to 16 percent after.
  • Advocacy shares on Facebook grew more than 287 percent over the pre-COVID period from Dec. 25 to March 12. Shares on Twitter jumped 113 percent over that same time period.
  • The number of advocates taking action to influence local government more than doubled, growing 148 percent over the same period in 2019.

“While the boom in 2020 is built upon years of steady growth in digital advocacy, the events of 2020 have accelerated citizen activism at a rate we could never have anticipated,” Ory said. “People want to be heard and to have a say in the decisions that impact them, particularly during this challenging year.”

Associations and nonprofits both benefited most from 2020’s surge in digital advocacy. Associations saw new advocates grow 363 percent between January and June over the same period last year. Nonprofits mobilized 2.8 million supporters between January and June 2020.


The State of Advocacy 2020 report is a data-focused analysis of digital advocacy, drawn from millions of actions taken on Phone2Action’s platform each year. The insights are solely based on Phone2Action’s data and no other data source is used.

When needed, data was normalized to facilitate year-over-year, apples-to-apples comparisons. In other cases, cohort analysis, which involves following a sub-sample of organizations over a period of years to analyze advocacy activity, was used. These two approaches helped eliminate the impact of Phone2Action’s business growth on the data.