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No Oil Tankers: Keeping the B.C. Coast Protected

The fight to protect ancient rain forests, an abundance of wildlife, and some of the most majestic coastline in the world from an ecological disaster is a daunting one, against some of the most powerful corporations and governments in the world. At the forefront of this fight is Dogwood Initiative—a small, Victoria-based nonprofit comprised of a smart, innovative crew known for punching hard for its weight.

No Oil Tankers: Keeping the B.C. Coast Protected

Not Here. Not Ever. http://dogwoodinitiative.org/

Magnificent Coastline

British Columbia, Canada, is home to one of the most magnificent and ecologically diverse coastlines in the world, the North Coast. For the past 37 years, the people of British Columbia have protected this irreplaceable region from a catastrophic oil spill, standing up against Exxon Valdez-sized tankers in the off-coast waters. That ban is continuously under threat as oil corporations have identified B.C.’s coast as an ideal location for a tanker port. Oil would be piped from Alberta’s tar sands through B.C. and then shipped out through the pristine waters of the North Coast to China and other parts of Asia. If the tanker port is built, hundreds of oil tankers per year will threaten this coastline.

Dogwood Initiative Punches Hard

This fight – the fight to protect ancient rain forests, an abundance of wildlife, and some of the most majestic coastline in the world from an ecological disaster—is a daunting one, against some of the most powerful corporations and governments in the world.   And at the forefront of this fight is Dogwood Initiative—a small, Victoria-based nonprofit comprised of a smart, innovative crew known for punching hard for its weight. They are effective organizers who are able to engage and mobilize their constituents and deliver game-changing interventions at critical moments.
Citizen advocacy against oil tankers is organized by Dogwood Initiative’s No Tankers campaign; a multi-year, multi-faceted campaign largely organized online and supported by the sophisticated functionality of a Salesforce.com database.

Building a Big List

The No Tankers online campaign generates and makes effective use of a list of people opposed to oil tankers on British Columbia’s coast. This list is primarily generated through an online petition on Dogwood’s website. Groundwire worked with Dogwood to set up this online petition as well as additional online action forms, all of which integrate with their Salesforce.com database.

The No Tankers supporters list has approximately 40,000 members, 15,000 of whom have opted to receive emails from Dogwood Initiative. A list this size for a regional nonprofit is extraordinary, a reflection of Dogwood’s ability to engage citizen advocates in a fight close to the heart of many B.C. residents.

Targeting by Region and by Leadership Level

No Tankers petition signers are added to Dogwood’s Salesforce.com database and receive regular communication from Dogwood Initiative; action alerts, email appeals and a monthly e-newsletter. For actions with a regional focus, the list is segmented geographically.

Each online action receives a leadership level from 1-5, a measure of the level of effort and engagement it takes to complete that action, for example: signing a petition is a level 1 action, donating is level 3 and so on.

In addition to leadership levels, leaders committed to the campaign are asked to identify themselves by joining the "No Tankers Action Team." The No Tankers Action Team focuses on actions that require a higher level of effort and engagement such as writing personal letters and organizing activities for the campaign.

Successful Outcomes

Letters to Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
In April 2009, Dogwood Initiative asked its supporters to make submissions to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) regarding the inadequacy of CEAA’s review of Enbridge Inc.'s oil tanker and pipeline project. 646 letters from Dogwood supporters were sent to the CEAA, dwarfing the usual number of submissions for similar projects (which is typically under 100). The CEAA significantly expanded the terms for the project, taking into account many of the concerns of Dogwood’s supporters.

Letters to the Oil Industry
In November 2009, tanker proponent Enbridge Inc. was reportedly on the verge of signing firm agreements with a number of oil producers and buyers and submitting its official application to the CEAA. Dogwood asked their supporters to send letters directly to oil company CEOs as well as Chinese and Korean companies that reportedly were interested in the project. A total of over 12,000 letters were sent to 10 recipients (1,200 letters each). It is six months later and Enbridge has yet to submit its official application to regulators largely due to its failure to secure firm commitments from suppliers and buyers.

What’s Next

1)    Dogwood Initiative plans to use Salesforce to implement an automated email campaign (drip campaign) for new supporters of the No Tankers campaign to quickly bring them up to speed.
2)    Dogwood is developing more regionally-focused actions for the No Tankers campaign to make effective use of Salesforce’s ability to segment their list.
3)    Dogwood is improving outcomes tracking and analysis to better identify leaders and improve communications.

Contributors:
Sara Freedman | Staff Writer, Groundwire
Charles Campbell | Communications Director, Dogwood Initiative



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