Because the Rights You Save May Be Your Own

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The NSA records our emails, our phone conversations and our text messages. Facebook is routinely subpoenaed to provide information on users or owners of Facebook Pages. Drones are now flying in U.S. airspace, gathering images of our homes, workplaces and even schools.

This may sound like a voice-over to some futuristic dystopian movie, but the future is now—this is our present reality.

While most of us drown in oblivion or helplessness over the incremental disappearance of our privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is not so complacent.

The right to privacy is just one constitutional right the tenacious ACLU has legally defended in recent years. Others include discrimination, free speech, religious freedom, LGBT rights, net neutrality, and the unfair, and often discriminatory, death penalty.

ACLU’s Power Base

The ACLU, buttressed by teams of highly competent lawyers and a loud, booming voice, has celebrated many victories defending the U.S. Constitution over the years.

But unlike some other politically engaged organizations, the voice of the ACLU is a chorus. Their true power base is built from ordinary citizens, whom they mobilize to defend issues we care about.

So having solid communication tools and a robust advocacy infrastructure is vital to help ACLU state affiliates maximize their grassroots potential.

ACLU-DE Advocacy Infrastructure

After developing a website for the ACLU of New Mexico in 2010, Upleaf was asked to build a website and CRM infrastructure for the ACLU of Delaware (ACLU-DE) in 2011, and jump-start their social media strategy.

Together we talked through ACLU-DE’s chief concerns, and culled the ones of highest priority.  We identified the different communities they hoped to work with and brainstormed how we might appeal to them.

Key questions were: What makes people care about the ACLU’s core issues? And: How can we breathe some life into the dry, boring, legal briefs that envelop their work?

Visual Navigation for ACLU-DE Issues

We then started architecting the new website design and content as well as the integrated CRM system that would support their backend fundraising, event management, and advocacy infrastructure. 

Website Home Page Design

Because advocacy is such a crucial part of what ACLU-DE does, and their primary means of building community, we opted to configure Salsa as the base CRM system. 

Salsa boasts a robust setup that includes up-to-date contact information for state legislators and national representatives. Petitions, targeted actions (that enable you to email your representative using a pre-scripted message), and letters to the editor are easy to create and script, along with multiple sets of talking points.  

We created a template that looks just like the website, so visitors don't even know when they're visiting Salsa.

ACLU-DE Petition in Salsa

After supporters take action on an issue they care about, they can subscribe to receive email updates and eventually attend events. This paves the way for supporters to transition into more active roles as donors or volunteers. 


Now ACLU-DE can keep all of their constituent information in one place, engaging their supporters in multiple ways from one system.

When we started, their supporter rolls were topping out at 15 email addresses, buoyed by a small Facebook and Twitter community. Within less than a year of providing extensive best practices training and strategy recommendations, their Facebook and Twitter communities doubled and their email list hit the 1,500 mark. By early 2013, ACLU-DE had gathered more than 3,000 supporters.

Volunteers signed up through the website. Supporters donated online. Visitors were able to select the issues they care about so ACLU-DE could send more targeted updates. Community leaders and influential donors registered online for ACLU-DE's annual dinner and shared their email addresses. Soon the organization had a vibrant community to call to arms when needed.

Return to Privacy

ACLU-DE has harnessed their online presence to rally people against NSA surveillance and many other issues, drawing on tools and information from ACLU national, like this excellent interview with Edward Snowden at SXSW in 2014.

ACLU-DE's website, CRM advocacy system, email list, and social media presence are all powerful tools in this campaign – helping to uphold the Fourth Amendment and return U.S. citizens our right to privacy. At Upleaf, we're proud to have been able to support those efforts.