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  • Advocacy in the Cloud Learn how The DC Project and the Idaho Conservation League are using Salesforce to organize and manage supporter engagement. The Dream of the 90s

    In the 1990s, as program director of a youth-oriented nonprofit, I often had this thought: if only we could find a better way to reach out to our alumni we could surely get a lot more done.

    Alas, this was the 90s – we still did most of our work using paper (applications, direct mail, brochures, etc.), email for the masses was just picking up (AOL, Hotmail), and databases were primarily used for money stuff and not for managing the involvement of constituents. Social media consisted of chat rooms and bulletin boards that people were scared of. Sure—we knew our core group of volunteers, but to engage the hundreds of thousands of former participants and staff is not something we could have feasibly done on our budget.

    But it would have been awesome if we could have. Alum still tell me, more than ten years later, that they wished someone would have followed up with them after this particular fundraising event, or that week at outdoor education, or this season of basketball. We had no central system for tracking engagement and it saddens me when I think back on all the folks who would have been even more engaged had an opportunity presented itself. And how much more we could have done.

    Tracking engagement activities in Salesforce

    DING DING DING! Hello database! Hello Engagement Tracker and Engagement Pyramid! Surely this extreme uptick in cloud, web and social technology over the past few years can benefit the nonprofit sector, right? Right. Here at Groundwire our developers have been working with the Salesforce platform to create the Groundwire Engagement Platform -- technology for managing and tracking volunteers, events, fundraising, and participation so program staff can quickly and easily scale their number of engaged supporters and call on these supporters at the right time to support mission.

    At the Salesforce annual conference last month, Foundation VP of Technology and Innovation Steve Andersen led a session called Advocacy in the Cloud: Engaging People to Bring About Change. This session featured two nonprofits, The DC Project and Idaho Conservation League, who put engagement -- defined here as the process of building relationships with people and putting those relationships to work toward a shared vision -- at the center of their organization including investing in the technology to support it.

    The DC Project (Matthew Dunn, presenter)

    What they do:

    The mission of The DC Project is to advance economic and environmental justice by creating clean energy careers for people who need them most. Engagement is at the heart of their program strategy.

    Their engagement model:

    The organizers found that while there were plenty of people interested in working a green job, the demand for the services was not there. So, they centered their engagement on creating the demand – specifically getting homeowners to invest $5,000 in energy-efficient home projects. Tactics to get people involved include knocking on the doors of homeowners, phone-banking, and follow-up events on home efficiency and weatherization.

    If a homeowner decides to invest in energy efficiency projects, it’s a triple win: lower utility costs and a more efficient home for the homeowner, less carbon emissions for mother earth, and work for these newly-trained green jobsters.

    And finally, one of the key elements to the DC project strategy is deep engagement with the homeowners from door bell through to home weatherization – with the idea that the homeowners will then become volunteers with the project and the community will become one of large-scale involvement and engagement in the project.

    The technology they use:

    When they first started, The DC project was using a number of technology platforms to manage their work. The result was data in silos that not everyone in the organization could access. So, they made the decision to use a centralized database, Salesforce, to hold all of the data important to their program. That meant getting everyone trained in Salesforce, and also customizing the database to work for their program areas.

    The DC Project built very cool Phone Bank and Canvass applications in Salesforce to help them with their work. Click here and fast forward to 00:32:00 for a quick look at these tools that allow The DC Project to scale their effectiveness with their supporters by bringing important data back into Salesforce to leverage in future activities.

    Idaho Conservation League (Sara Arkle, presenter. ICL is a Groundwire client.)

    What they do:
    ICL works to protect the air, water and wild places that Idahoans love. Since 1973 they have built a credible, professional voice for conservation in Idaho. Now, as their core membership ages, they are looking to engage a new generation of voices in their mission.

    Their engagement model:

    ICL developed an engagement pyramid that includes non-members (people who don’t give money). They used Salesforce to define what it means to be a “supporter” at a variety of levels in the organization. Go to 00:39:00 to watch Sara describe the different levels of engagement ICL supporters can be rated in Salesforce and how ICL staff use these levels to leverage their work for targeting campaigns, talking to donors, offering opportunities for increasing engagement and more. Having the campaign history is great, but having the algorithm that rolls it up to a number and then allows you to quickly run a report showing who in Twin Falls is “Level 4” or greater in one report is even better.

    The technology they use:

    They needed new tools to engage a younger audience. They made the switch from a membership-focused communications strategy to a “supporter at different levels” strategy. In 2009 they launched a new website, new database, new email and social media tools, all with an engagement strategy behind it.

    This is not your 1990s engagement. My old self is quite jealous.

    No publisherSara Freedmansuccess-storiesEngagement StrategyDatabase2011-09-22T00:35:00ZBlog Entry
    Powerful, flexible tools for Alaska's Cook Inletkeeper How we helped Cook Inletkeeper do a more-than-skin-deep makeover on its website and CRM database.Alaska's Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles from the Gulf of Alaska up to Anchorage. Cook Inletkeeper, based in Homer, Alaska, works to protect Cook Inlet, its watershed and all of the life it sustains. There's a lot of life worth protecting: huge salmon runs, beluga whales, a vibrant fishing industry, hundreds of thousands of acres of unspoiled wilderness and communities of hardworking Alaskans. And, as you might expect, there are a lot of threats to Cook Inlet: reckless coal strip mining, the impacts of climate change, toxic waste from oil and gas drilling, and more.

    Cook Inletkeeper has been working hard to keep Cook Inlet safe and sustainable since 1995, and while we've known the Inletkeeper team for a long while, only recently have we had the opportunity to really dive in deep with them. But it was worth the wait. In the space of a few short months, we helped Cook Inletkeeper:

    • Design and build a gorgeous new website with a fantastic "Weather and Tides" engagement superpower.
    • Deploy a brand new Salesforce relationship management database to replace their aging homebrewed Access member database.
    • Streamline their membership and donor management processes to fit the new world of combined online and offline fundraising.
    • Launch a new online donation feature that seamlessly integrates between Cook Inletkeeper's website, a new credit card merchant account and Salesforce.
    • Start a new email newsletter/broadcasting program, seamlessly integrated with their Salesforce CRM.

    The net result: systems transformation. By helping Cook Inletkeeper think about its website, database, credit card processing and membership processes as connected elements in an integrated system, we were able to give them as set of powerful, flexible, fits-like-a-glove tools that meet all of their needs with headroom to grow.

    Here's a quick screencast of Cook Inletkeeper's innovative "Weather and Tides" feature.

    No publisherJon StahlWebsitesuccess-storiesEmail & Social MediaDatabase2011-06-12T23:20:00ZBlog Entry
    YES! Magazine's soaring online presence In the last year and a half, traffic to the YES! Magazine website has tripled. This tremendous growth is the result of smart strategy, a creative and talented staff, and powerful online tools provided by Groundwire and Web Collective.42 Ways to Not Make Trash. Indigenous Ecuadorians Take Chevron to Court. 10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy. Living Buildings, Living Economies.

    This is YES! Magazine. What began 15 years ago on Washington state’s beautiful Bainbridge Island as a quarterly print magazine has morphed into a leader in daily online progressive news covering the economy, the environment and social justice -- and offering real-world solutions for readers looking to take action.

    In the last year and a half, traffic to the YES! Magazine website has tripled. This tremendous growth is the result of smart strategy, a creative and talented staff, and powerful online tools provided by Groundwire and Web Collective.

    Moving beyond the core audience

    In 2008, Executive Director Fran Korten and the team at YES! conducted an external review to find out what readers and supporters wanted next from the successful magazine. The message they heard loud and clear was: "We want more timely and frequent content!" It was time to move the YES! message way beyond the core audience. And the only way to achieve this was to move beyond print and truly embrace the web.

    The YES! team was already planning a major overhaul of their website—the design was beginning to look dated and the editors were ready for a website that was easy to use for their daily posting and editing.

    This was right about the time that social media networks really began picking up steam and YES! editors were already beginning to see important YES! articles that they published on the website getting picked up by other alternative news websites.

    “Readers were interested in YES!’s take on the daily news,” says Korten.

    Thus in 2009, YES! Takes On The News was launched. This new program to extend YES!’s reach and magnify its impact included five components:

    1. Reorganizing the YES! staff structure.
    2. A more rigorous publishing schedule with YES! editors writing timely and frequent articles for the website.
    3. Launching a weekly YES! email that includes a roundup of the week’s best articles.
    4. Re-branding with Pyramid Communications to help YES!'s online presence break free from a graphic design framework developed in a print-first world.
    5. A powerful new website from Groundwire and Web Collective to breathe life into YES!'s ambitious new publishing plans.

    Working with our allies at Web Collective and with Taylor Bachrach of Bachrach Communications, we created a beautiful new website for YES! that is powerful, yet easy for their staff to manage. We were able to re-use many of the technical and strategic concepts we developed for High Country News the previous year. We worked with YES! to design the information architecture which allows the site to present YES! content in a more "native to the web" way, rather than mirroring the more linear structure created by the physical limitations of print.

    YES's new information architecture starts with a two-level topic hierarchy:

    • Peace & Justice
    • Planet
    • New Economy
    • People Power
    • Happiness

    Each of these has a beautiful, flexible landing page (here's an example!)  that always showcases the most recent content on the topic, as well as building an ongoing archive of all YES! coverage of this topic.

    In addition, each article is tagged with one of three “hedgehog” types – an article can be about “reframing big ideas”, “tools to use and share” or “the power of one”.

    We also took advantage of Plone’s multilingual capabilities to give YES! the option to provide Spanish-language versions of content (YES! has some great translators!)

    We are having fun.

    Since relaunch of the new YES! website in July 2009, the number of visitors to the website has tripled. Close to 60,000 people have signed up to receive the YES! This Week weekly roundup email. Over 3,000 readers signed up to participate in YES!’s No Impact Week challenge in January of 2011. As Korten puts it, “We are having fun.”

    Korten believes that the amount of effort YES! spends creating material should be equal to the amount of time it spends pushing it out in the world. YES! online is seeing increased traffic from their weekly email blast and YES! editors know good headlines and great content generate traffic. Media and Outreach Manager Susan Gleason is deliberate in her efforts to extend the reach of YES content, pushing out articles to a cadre of websites, networks, outlets, through social media channels and more. The number of visitors coming to the YES! website from Facebook has increased tenfold since 2009 and traffic from referrals on websites like Common Dreams and AlterNet is also up substantially. In April of this year, YES! Magazine received's 2011 award for Best Business and Politics Website.

    Ideas into action

    Korten has many, many stories of people reading something in YES! Magazine and then taking action – from becoming a zero-waste household to forming common security clubs to interest in establishing state banks.

    To further extend the reach of the magazine, YES! delivers a newsletter to 23,000 teachers each month. Teachers have their own resources section on the YES! website for curriculum ideas.

    People are looking to YES!’s take on the news to help them navigate uncertain economic and environmental times. Popular articles often include ideas on how to live life differently and more deliberately. The recession has ushered in a whole new generation of homemakers, gardeners, people doing more with less, and YES editors have responded to this interest.

    “YES! shows people what other people are doing," says Korten. "And it inspires them to do it.”

    No publisherSara FreedmanWebsiteContent is Kingsuccess-stories2011-05-24T18:05:00ZBlog Entry
    Sarah Nason: A Washington Bus Hero Sarah Nason, one of the original volunteers who helped get The Washington Bus started, is moving on.Sarah Nason, one of the original volunteers who helped get The Washington Bus started, is moving on. Over the past few years, we've worked closely with Sarah and the Bus, first helping them move from spreadsheets to a powerful Salesforce database, and this year helping them launch an integrated website/database redesign.

    We asked Karen Uffelman, our Director of Client Strategy, to share a few thoughts on the indefatigable Ms. Nason:

    I first met Sarah Nason many years ago when she worked as a Conservation Programs Associate at the Nature Conservancy and shared an office with my friend, Betsy Lyons. I remembered her as funny, intelligent and really passionate about her work, so several years later, when I heard that she had finished graduate school and was looking for a new job, I hired her to come work with me at the Seattle office of Corporate Accountability International.

    Sarah is a great organizer and fundraiser, and she transformed Corporate Accountability’s monthly donor program from an administrative challenge to a major revenue stream. Later, as part of the group of people working to launch the Washington Bus, I realized that Sarah Nason was a missing ingredient for getting the Bus moving and helped recruit her. I think of this as one of my main contributions to the Washington Bus, and am so proud of all she has accomplished there. Good luck in your future adventures, Sarah, and keep up the good work!

    Click here to read the Bus's salute to Sarah (it's real good.)

    No publisherSara FreedmanWebsiteNext Generation Organizingsuccess-storiesDatabase2011-05-10T00:10:00ZBlog Entry
    Build your Facebook fan base, increase online action In four weeks, ICL grew their total Facebook audience by nearly 67% and increased online actions through FB and Twitter.Idaho Conservation League is the go-to group for clean water, wild places and quality of life in Idaho. They’ve been doing some fantastic work with Facebook ads that we are excited to share with you. We think it’s a perfect example of a basic Facebook advertising strategy that nearly any environmental group can easily run to build up their social media audience and the base of their Engagement Pyramid.

    Before we dive in, here’s what you need to know about advertising on Facebook:

    1)  Facebook, like Google, makes it very easy to buy advertising in small amounts and with really precise targeting.

    2) In a Facebook ad, you can ask the user to “Like” your organization, RSVP for an event or simply click through to any URL.

    3) Liking is one of the easiest and best actions to offer, since it’s a single click that effectively adds the person to your Facebook audience, and lets them start receiving messages from you via Facebook. It’s pretty much the Facebook equivalent of someone adding themselves to your email newsletter list. 

    The Strategy

    ICL has an Engagement Pyramid that they built with Groundwire.  Level 1 of their Engagement Pyramid is “followers”--people who have raised their hands and said, “Yes, I’m interested in hearing more about ICL’s work!”  ICL has some pretty aggressive goals for building up this base level of its Engagement Pyramid, so it has a large enough pool of people that it can work to move up the pyramid toward deeper engagement.

    As Sara Arkle, ICL Communications Associate and Chief Facebook Ads Wrangler puts it, “We felt that there were folks out there in Idaho who share our values but we hadn’t yet spoken with. We wanted to let Idahoans interested in conservation values know that we exist and that we have a forum for them.”

    Is this by itself a killer social media strategy? Nope. But it’s low-cost, low-effort, low-hanging fruit that we think it makes a ton of sense to harvest. And, as a bonus, ICL has the opportunity to get some real data about which messages resonate best with the exact people they’re targeting.

    The Tactics

    ICL decided to take advantage of Facebook’s ad-targeting features to focus in on the people they most wanted to have: adults in Idaho whose Facebook interests intersect with ICL’s issue work. “We targeted Idahoans because we are a statewide organization in Idaho,” says Arkle.  “Beyond that, we were looking to reach the people who had self-identified with the issues we’re working on. To build our targeting profile, we tried to imagine our archetypal supporter and played trial-and-error with the available Facebook interest tags.”

    ICL also kept their ads focused on the Facebook friends of people who were already connected to ICL, under the assumption that people tend to be friends with people who have similar interests and values. In addition, when you target friends-of-friends, Facebook shows which of their friends are already connected with you, which adds a powerful “trusted endorsement” that Facebook believes can boost conversion rates.

    The precise criteria ICL wound up using were:

    • live in the United States
    • live in Idaho
    • age 18 and older
    • are not already connected to Idaho Conservation League
    • friends are already connected to Idaho Conservation League (e.g “friends of friends”)
    • like bicycling, conservation, cross country sking, energy efficiency, healthy living, hiking, politics, public health, snowshoeing, sustainability, water or wildlife

    According to Facebook’s targeting tool, this ad can reach a pool of nearly 15,000 people. That’s a pretty good-sized pool of extremely well-qualified prospects! 

    ICL decided to test two ad messages:

    1) A broad, values-focused message with the copy “Does Idaho make you smile? We work to protect you from toxins and to preserve the land you love. Love Idaho? "Like" us.”

    ICL Facebook Ad 1

    2) A message focused on ICL’s work in the state legislature with the copy: “Clean water, clean air, wildlife, wild places. ICL is your voice for conservation at the Idaho Statehouse.”

    ICL Facebook 2

    What was the rationale behind these two different messages?  “We wanted to find out whether people would respond more to our work in the state legislature or to a more general statement of shared identity,” says Arkle.

    ICL ran the ads for about four weeks, with a maximum spend of $50/day and a maximum bid of $0.88 per clickthrough. This was near the low end of Facebook’s recommended bid range of $0.77 - $1.12 per click.

    The Results

    ICL started the campaign with about 2100 Facebook Likes. In four weeks, ICL added nearly 1500 Facebook Likes, growing their total Facebook audience by nearly 67% to just under 3500 Likes. The campaign has cost them under $1200, so the total cost per new fan is well under a buck. 

    Increase in online actions spreading through FB and Twitter. “For the first time, we saw one of our online actions go viral on Twitter, “ reports Arkle.  “This resulted in almost twice the number of signatures we would have otherwise expected, spread out over a longer time.”

    The campaign also delivered about 4.6 million ad impressions. If we assume those impressions were distributed over an audience of about 271,000 (per Facebook), that means each person saw the ad an average of 17 times. While it’s hard to measure the bottom line results from this, we think there’s gotta be some value in building name recognition in your target audience at such a low price.

    Two weeks in, ICL found that their values-focused message was getting about twice the click-through rate as their statehouse/policy-focused message, so they dropped the latter and focused all of their resources on the former. They also found that their clickthrough rates were dropping down, and theorized that it was because they had actually reached the saturation point on their ultra-focused target audience of 15,000. So, they backed off the interest targeting and expanded the pool to about 271,000 Idahoans.


    We think this kind of low-cost Facebook advertising strategy is a very simple, cost-effective way to build your Facebook audience with highly relevant people. It could easily be adapted by almost any local or statewide environmental group. The vast majority of such groups we’ve looked at have Facebook fan bases that are much smaller than ICL’s so we think there’s considerable room to pick up these "low hanging fruit."

    Here’s how we think a typical environmental organization can put the power of Facebook ads to work:

    • Target appropriate states or cities, people over 18, and focus on friends of friends who are not already fans. Use Facebook’s estimated reach numbers to widen or narrow your reach if you are finding too many people or not enough.
    • Use interest targeting. Figure out what kinds of things your target audience members are likely to have “liked” or expressed as hobbies/interests.
    • Test out various messages. Expect that a general message that connects targeted interests with organizational values will work better than a wonky issue-specific message. Remember that Facebook Likes are about expressing interest and identity.
    • Avoid the temptation to modify the creative or targeting of a running ad; this will make it hard for you to tease out useful comparison data at the end of your ad run. Instead, copy the ad and modify it.
    • If you are in a small market, use interest targeting until you see your response rates dive toward zero, which indicates that you have saturated the current market, then back off and target all friends-of-friends in your target geography.
    • Budget in chunks of a few hundred dollars, run ads up to about $50/day.
    • Your initial goal should be just building your Facebook fanbase. This about building up the bottom of your engagement pyramid.
    No publisherJon StahlNext Generation Organizingsuccess-storiesEmail & Social Media2011-04-20T21:00:00ZBlog Entry
    Watch Video from 2011 Speed Geek Learn more about our work with online letter-writing and petitions, carbon calculators, automated email campaigns, tracking engagement tools, online event registration tools, resource libraries and see our newest application for—Volunteers for Salesforce—in action!Earlier this month we held our annual Speed Geek event here at Groundwire Headquarters in downtown Seattle. During five minute presentations our awesome presenters wowed audiences with the latest and greatest relationship-building and communications technology from Groundwire.

    Special thanks to our wonderful presenters:

    • Sara Arkle, Idaho Conservation League
    • Karl Hardin, Dogwood Initiative
    • Brendan Mackinson, People for Puget Sound
    • Katie Pelly, IslandWood
    • Eileen Quigley, Climate Solutions, New Energy Cities
    • Margaret Ullman, Mountains to Sound Greenway
    • Eric Magnuson, Groundwire
    • Evan Callahan, Groundwire

    And super special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: Advomatic, Better World Club, Fission Strategy, Free Range Studios, Janet Boguch Non-Profit Works and ShareZen.

    You can play at home! Make yourself our official 2011 Speed Geek cocktail, The Speed Racer (3/4 ounce vodka, 1 ounce of ginger liqueur, 1/4 ounce lime juice, top with club soda, serve over ice) and watch the presentations (below) from the Speed Geek.

    Megaphone! An Online Petition and Letter-Writing Tool

    Groundwire Labs Manager Eric Magnuson shows off Megaphone, the online petition and letter-writing tool for Plone websites. Using Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition to demonstrate, Eric shows how people who wish to take action with WWRC can click “Take Action” on the site, then quickly fill out a form that allows them to send an email letter to their state senator and representatives. Megaphone matches address to legislator and auto-populates the form, making it super easy for citizens to send letters to their district’s elected officials. After an interested person takes action, their information is stored in WWRC’s database, so organizers can target those likely to take action on specific issues for future campaigns.  

    Watch Megaphone in action. (Flip Video quality: accidentally Dogme 95 style, but stick with it, it gets less hand-heldy as it goes on.)

    Calculate Greenhouse Gas Emissions with a Database

    Groundwire CRM consultant Evan Callahan shows off an online carbon calculator that government officials use to determine the amount of CO2 their cities, counties, utilities, etc. are releasing into the atmosphere. This tool was custom built by Groundwire for ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), but can be replicated and built upon for other groups looking for a technology tool to calculate CO2 emissions. The Carbon Calculator is built within the group’s web-based database so data is tracked and stored all in one place where any authorized staff member can easily access it. Staff members submit information about their city’s use of electricity and fossil fuels and the raw data is transformed into a carbon footprint graph, which city officials can use to take measures to reduce impact they are having on the climate.

    Watch carbon calculator in action.  (Flip Video quality: quieter room because we taped it during dress rehearsal, some odd zooming about but you’ll get the gist.)

    Stopping Oil Tankers with a Powerful Email Provider Built for Salesforce: Predictive Response

    Karl Hardin and Dogwood Initiative in Victoria BC work to protect their beautiful corner of the world from environmental disaster. Their No Tankers campaign has been instrumental in keeping Exxon-Valdez-sized tankers off the coast of BC. To inform, engage, organize and mobilize tens of thousands of activists on behalf of their work, Dogwood Initiative uses Predictive Response, an emailing tool built to integrate with databases. The “Predictive” in Predictive Response?  Depending upon the email recipient's actions, Predictive Response can be set to automatically respond using the rules you give it – e.g. “send follow-up email after three days if not opened.”  Karl shows us how they use the email tool to set up a multi-step, targeted communication to deepen relationships with their newest supporters – the petition signers. Also – look for predictive A/B subject line testing coming down the pike from Predictive Response – testing different subject lines then automatically moving forward with the lines that produce a higher open rate!

    Check out notes from a successful email campaign here: (Flip Video quality: whoops, kind of dark, but don’t click off because Karl is a great presenter and the whole five minutes is well worth watching.)

    Using a Pyramid Framework to Engage Idahoans in Protecting the Environment.

    If you work for a nonprofit, you probably have a lot of people swirling around your organization—volunteers, board members, big donors, small donors, life-time supporters, brand new friends, alumni, people who use your programs and more. We are helping groups use the Engagement Pyramid to organize their community of supporters and would-be supporters, with a tool to track and manage the engagement data. Sara Arkle shows how the Idaho Conservation League is using the Engagement Pyramid to build a common language at their organization around engagement -- and ultimately build power -- considering their traditional audience and reaching out to new supporters as well.

    Watch Sara talk about the Engagement Pyramid and ICL. (Flip Video quality: The Engagement Pyramid looks great in spite of some weird zooming.)

    Inform and Engage – Resources for Pioneering Cities of New, Clean Energy

    Eileen Quigley from Climate Solutions, New Energy Cities project shows off the robust resources section on their new site. The New Energy Cities project works with 10-12 pioneering communities who have a 20-year plan to reduce their carbon output by 80% by going deep into energy efficiency, smart grid, renewable energy, and electric cars. An important part of this project’s mission is to make sure pioneering communities can get the information they need.  The goal of this is to build as many resources as possible up on the site that laypeople can use. Site users can quickly narrow search by category and by the type of resource (blog post, research, article, case study, policy) they need. To build this section, Groundwire leveraged several of our other Plone products and built on previous work we had done on resource presentation. To make the resources easy to find, we set up a searching and filtering interface with custom landing pages and friendly icons.  

    Check out this cool resources library. (Flip Video Quality: an odd angle shot from below, but presenter Eileen saves it with her well-planned presentation.)

    Our Brand-New Volunteer Management Application for Salesforce.

    Visitors to the new website we built for Mountains to Sound Greenway can use an interactive map to find hikes and events close to where they live and work. They can also sign up for volunteer work right on the MTSG website, with all of their information being captured and fed into MTSG’s Salesforce database on the back-end. It’s a Plone website, but the volunteer opportunities surfacing on the site are being created using Salesforce Sites, so staff members can easily change volunteer opportunities by editing fields in Salesforce. When volunteers sign up on the website, a confirmation is immediately sent to their email. All data from new volunteers coming in through the website is managed in Groundwire’s new application for volunteer management in Salesforce - so staff members can look at donors, volunteers, alumni, clients, consultants, partners and more all in one centralized, web-based place.

    Check out volunteers for Salesforce with Mountains to Sound Greenway in action. (Flip Video quality: side angle and somewhat dark, but Margaret's interesting presentation keeps viewers engaged.)

    Event Registration Made Easy with Eventbrite and Salesforce Integration.

    IslandWood is a school, conference center and retreat center in the woods of beautiful Bainbridge Island. It needs easy online registration for its many events and programs. We hooked IslandWood up with Eventbrite, an online event registration site that’s user-friendly and kind to nonprofits. Most importantly, Eventbrite connects with using the Eventbrite Connector tool, so all staff members can import registrants into their database for reporting and engagement tracking.

    Watch Eventbrite and Salesforce in action. (Flip Video quality: some quick jerking back and forth from screen to Katie, but cool to see this online event registration with Salesforce reporting in action. Careful not to get distracted by sumo wrestler bobble-head at bottom of screen.)

    No publisherSara FreedmanWebsitesuccess-storiesDatabaseEngagement TechnologiesNext Generation OrganizingGroundwire LabsInformation Sharing Event2011-04-18T23:40:00ZBlog Entry
    50 Donors in 50 Days: KAHEA With a clear value proposition expressed to an audience already well-cultivated, a specific, transparent campaign goal, and best practices for their online appeal -- the Hawaiian-environmental alliance KAHEA raised 300% more in year-end giving from individual donors in 2010 than they did for the same appeal in 2009.I love Hawaii. Love. I love the weather, I love the culture, I love the natural environment. Which means I also love KAHEA, a small but mighty organization that works to protect Hawaii’s cultural and natural resources.

    KAHEA was started about ten years ago by a group of activists  concerned about Hawaii’s systematic loss of species, sensitive shorelines, and unique cultural sites, as well as increasing threats to public health, rights and access – and they called for change.

    The name KAHEA is an acronym for Ka (the) Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and the word Kāhea translates from Hawaiian as "the call.”  Which is cool. And makes me love them even more.

    Actually, lots of folks love KAHEA, which is grassroots-oriented and good at community mobilization. More than 10,000 people, spread across all of the Hawaiian Islands (and beyond) have signed up for KAHEA’s email list, taken action on their campaigns, or attended KAHEA events. Not that many of them are donors, however, because KAHEA has historically been funded by foundations and hasn’t spent much energy converting action supporters to financial supporters. But it has both opportunities and aspirations that exceed local foundation funding resources, and a strong desire to diversify its funding base.

    So, at the end of last year, staff members launched a campaign to convert some of their activist love to individual contributions. With a practically non-existent individual donor program, they decided to start with baby steps, and opted for a plan and theme that felt achievable to both staff and board. “50 Donors in 50 Days” was the name of their campaign challenge.

    KAHEA staff built on an annual tradition of sending Makahiki cards at the end of the year (which had historically contained contribution envelopes but a very passive ask) by adding a series of three email appeals, two from members of their board and the final one from Executive Director Miwa Tamanaha.

    The email appeals spoke to what a donor’s contribution would fund, what the organization had accomplished over the past year, and why each writer was personally passionate about KAHEA’s work. They were short and sweet and inspiring, starting with the subject line 50 Days…And Counting and ending with 48 Hours Left in the 50 Donors, 50 Days Challenge.

    There was no rocket science involved. No expensive viral videos or fancy apps. What they did have was a clear value proposition expressed to an audience that was already well-cultivated through KAHEA’s on-the-ground relationship-building practices. So when they incorporated a specific, transparent campaign goal, added an additional channel to their fundraising campaign and followed best practices for their online appeal, the results far exceeded their expectations. 190 donors, nearly four times their original goal, made contributions.  Even though many of their new donors gave smaller gifts than previous donors had, KAHEA raised 300% more in year-end giving from individual donors than they did for the same appeal the previous year.

    This success is encouraging KAHEA board and staff to increase investment in their individual donor and monthly giving programs, and they have smart cultivation and follow up planned for these first-time givers and ascenders of their engagement pyramid. Next time you visit the amazing Hawaiian Islands, take some time to appreciate the efforts of KAHEA  (visible everywhere, from Monk Seal protection to the Natural Area Reserves to supporting local food production), and – who knows – you might want to become donor 191. Aloha!

    No publisherKaren Uffelmansuccess-storiesRelationship BuildingFundraisingEmail & Social Media2011-03-22T00:30:00ZBlog Entry
    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. 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 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 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 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.

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

    No publisherSara Freedmansuccess-storiesListen to Your Mother (Earth)Engagement TechnologiesDatabase2010-05-12T16:00:00ZBlog Entry
    Bringing Our Clients Home Groundwire staff member Sean Pender gets up close and personal with a SustainableWorks home energy audit.Groundwire builds websites. Not me, but my co-workers. I do the books at Groundwire so I bill websites (get it? Ha!) and in some ways I’m removed from the work we do, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find myself using one of our client sites recently:

    SustainableWorks is a non-profit doing energy audits and retrofit pilot projects in three neighborhoods; one in Spokane, one in Federal Way and one in my corner of Seattle, Ravenna/Wedgwood. They have skilled trade workers who come to your house and do an energy audit, looking for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

    A week or so after the audit is complete, an energy consultant from SustainableWorks meets with you to go over the results of the audit and to explain what work could be done to your home, what that work would cost you, and what it would save you. They also provide an estimate of the decrease in carbon emissions if you have the work done.

    If you choose to do the energy retrofit, they act as a general contractor of sorts; they have contractors lined up to do the recommended work.

    This is why the work is concentrated in neighborhoods; it behooves SustainableWorks, and the contractors, to blanket an area for reasons of efficiency—they can knock out a certain number of audits or retrofits all in a shorter period of time if they’re not going from one city to another.

    I’d seen flyers posted in the neighborhood about SustainableWorks, knew they were a client of Groundwire’s, and heard about them from friends and neighbors so I finally registered for a home energy audit using their Plone website.

    A few days after signing up I received release forms in the mail that allowed our utilities to release information about our gas and electricity usage to SustainableWorks. Later I received emails from SW directing me to an online reservation form to schedule the actual energy audit.

    From a technology standpoint, everything worked at it was supposed to: me filling out the web form triggered another action (Yay! I’m in their system!) and the online reservation form (not a part of Plone but a separate system) also triggered emails that assured me I was in the process.

    In early March two SustainableWorks staff showed up, precisely at 8am as they said they would, and they spent a couple of hours poking and prodding our 1940s era home to see what kind of energy efficiency improvements might be made. The Sustainable Works staff were friendly and told me exactly what they were doing as they worked around the house.

    Once their staff completed testing, they took what they found and came back a week or so later with three proposals. Each proposal included details on work to be done, cost of that work, rebates available from our utilities for the work and other pertinent details.
    SustainableWorks started in Spokane and they’ve had some success there; including a retrofit for a church that is projected to save the church roughly 50% on their energy costs and another retrofit for a community center for disabled adults that cut their energy bills by roughly 30%, not to mention cutting carbon emissions at the same time.

    These proposals were a fantastic way for me to see how our work at Groundwire, including what I do, has a tangible effect in our neighborhood and in our little corner of the world.

    No publisherseanpWebsitesuccess-storiesListen to Your Mother (Earth)2010-04-09T22:20:00ZBlog Entry