Nature Conservancy's Nancy Eiring on Earth Day 2010 Campaign, Part 1
[Editor's note: This part 1 of a two-part interview. Check back Wednesday for part 2.]
Every year, the Nature Conservancy centers a fundraising and advocacy campaign around Earth Day, focusing on a different theme annually. Events ranging from a 5K race to raise awareness and dollars to 2011's Picnic for the Planet have been used to bring donors closer to the organization's mission to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities of the Earth.
FundRaising Success spoke with Nancy Eiring, director of acquisition at the Nature Conservancy, about the 2010 Earth Day campaign.
Nancy Eiring: Our Earth Day is a huge event for our organization but also for the environmental and conservation movement. We try to take advantage of that awareness and do a lot of promotion. Last year, like the previous year, we had a relationship with Disney releasing a film. Disney's "Oceans" came out on Earth Day. We were one of the beneficiaries of the film. We promoted that online along with making our focus about marine life and marine work.
FundRaising Success: What was the overall goal of the 2010 Earth Day campaign?
NE: Each Earth Day we try to do it bigger and better and learn and reapply year after year. What we've learned is when we're consistent in our message across the national office as well as inside our field offices — we have offices in every state — we can raise the awareness even that much more.
FS: How do you make sure everything stays consistent and on message with so many offices?
NE: One of the things that we did in 2010 was we created templates. We housed everything in one place on our internal intranet so that everyone had easy access to all of the promotional items, and we pushed it out across the field so that we could share everything with everyone at the same time. We actually created our Earth Day guide for the field, which was really a quick read; it laid out different engagement opportunities — some that were super quick, some that were semi-quick and some that would take some time to implement but still provide an opportunity for the office. That meant they could take advantage of specific opportunities in the state, like doing different events such as screening opportunities or how they could reach out to the media, and other tools like e-cards to donors, how they could change their e-signature, how they could use different social-network reposts and how to use Facebook in terms of our Oceans event.
We created the campaign, which started at the end of March leading up to Earth Day. Everything that we did was sent out in phases. One week we did tips on how to recycle bags. Another week was on sustainable seafood. Another week was on gardening tips. And each week we would push out this content through e-mails and also use social media to really promote it and engage our donors and anybody who's a fan or friend on Facebook or Twitter to respond. We got a lot of feedback and input on the different tips that we were promoting.
The first Earth Day promotion began on March 28. That kicked off all of the campaign opportunities. We launched our Earth Day Twitter event. We did all our Facebook advertising. And we began our partnership support that day.
Our April campaign was our match campaign — the first time we had done that — and it increased our response rate about 20 percent. But the main focus was primarily online. It went to our e-subscribers, our social media (Facebook and Twitter) and then inside social media, all of our field offices operate their own Twitter and Facebook accounts, so they promoted it as well.
We approach our e-mail list a little bit differently than other organizations. We only consider our e-mail list to be active subscribers — that means anyone who's opened an e-mail and/or taken action within the last nine months is considered active. We have about just shy of a half million e-mail subscribers.
FS: How was response as Earth Day approached?
NE: In April, we raised 61 percent more than we did the previous April — pretty significant.
FS: Did you expect that big of a jump in response?
NE: I don't think we expected that much. We do know that if we operate cohesively, we always have success, and this just demonstrated how well we executed all of our engagement opportunities and took advantage of every engagement opportunity. We used Disney's "Oceans" as a jumping off point, but we marketed our marine work pretty heavily. We went to a lot of media markets trying to get mentions, so that helped too. We did a lot more on social media than we had in the past. We were promoted in the Disney trailer. A lot played into the jump in response.
Check back Wednesday for part 2.