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Case Study: Ceres

We were thrilled when Ceres -- a national network made up of investors, environmental organizations and public-interest groups working together with businesses to create a sustainable economy -- came to us to help the network achieve greater impact through online engagement strategy, a new website and a new relationship-management database.

Ceres: Achieving A Sustainable Economy

For the past twenty years, Ceres has shown business leaders and investors that environmental caretaking and financial prosperity can go hand in hand. Business leaders know that consumers are more engaged and educated than ever, and are paying close attention to what they are putting on, in and near their families. Companies understand that environmental responsibility is not just good for marketing, but also reduces financial risk and liability, and is the only way forward for a sustainable future.


Our strategy team first met with Ceres to align communications and programmatic investments for the most impact. We worked with Ceres staff to focus online communications efforts on moving the right levers to build power. We looked at Ceres' audiences and determined value propositions (what you offer as an organization) and how that related to the ample resources on the Ceres website, annual conference, phone assistance to members, and much more.

Ceres has three websites -- their main site, one for investors and one for companies. We wanted to make sure the architecture, services and functionality of the three sites mapped well to meet the needs of the audiences Ceres cares about most. We wanted to make sure the most site critical content was prioritized in both site architecture and page layout. And we wanted all three sites to look great and ensure brand consistency.

"Groundwire was instrumental in helping us understand the connection between our advocacy goals, technology and online experiences for our key audiences," says Brian Sant, Senior Manager of Online Communications for Ceres. "By going through a robust discovery phase with them, we were able to better define not only the technology needed to organize contacts and content, but we really honed in on online strategy that would serve our own organizational goals while ensuring the investors, companies and advocates we work with have a meaningful online experience."

Our strategy team then brought these recommendations for functionality to the database and website teams.


Our database team worked with Ceres to create a powerful online system to support collaborative work, greater efficiency, and deeper relationship building with the people who matter most to Ceres.

Our database consultants sat down with each team at Ceres (Corporate Accountability team, Investor team, Foundation team, etc.) to document technical requirements and delve into the details of their business processes.

We configured a database as a shared contact and media database for Ceres, customizing contacts and organizations to support the unique needs of each Ceres workgroup. We built the database to provide complete support with shared tracking of key Ceres relationships, including the history of interactions.

Integration between the database, website and email blast systems was also a priority. We wanted to make sure Ceres member information in the database would be able to feed the Ceres websites as needed and that information coming in through the websites would also be captured in Salesforce. We moved Ceres over to Exact Target for email communications, which integrates email open and click-through information with contacts in the database. Email list segmentation takes place directly in Salesforce, so Ceres can easily analyze data and target campaigns.


Taking strategy team recommendations, we built a beautiful new website for Ceres with clean information architecture focused on user needs. The main site contains a custom press and media center that allows Ceres staff to feature blog posts and podcasts in addition to press releases. It also includes a resource library of reports, podcasts, videos and webinars. Multimedia files and documents uploaded to the library by Ceres staff are automatically embedded with the appropriate player or viewer.

Ceres also has two program-specific websites—BICEP and INCR—and we ensured brand consistency as well as integrating the content management and search function across all three sites. Ceres staff can easily share content among the sites, and a unified content management interface simplifies the process of publishing and editing.

"The amount of information held on the suite of Ceres websites has always been a challenge in terms of where and how to present it online in ways that are engaging and meaningful to our audiences, as well as keeping the site up to date and relevant," says Sant. "The combination of Plone, Salesforce and Exact Target, along with Groundwire's sophisticated approach to website design, has resulted in a professional website that is easy to update and allows users to find the information they need quickly."

All of the sites feature corporate member directories that automatically draw their content from the Salesforce database. Logos and descriptions posted by Ceres staff are synchronized among the directories, ensuring that the listings of members remain up to date.

As we work toward a society that is sustainable, it is essential that the business sector is a major player at the table and it is imperative to our mission that we partner with groups like Ceres.

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