Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a little bit of a love affair with one of our clients: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS is a global conservation organization that manages five living institutions in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo. Hardly a month goes by when I don’t find myself impressed by one of WCS’ advocacy or fundraising campaigns.
In February, I swooned over their Name a Roach Valentine’s Day campaign. In April, they took advantage of national press about an Egyptian Cobra that went missing at their reptile house (and was later recovered) by holding a naming contest for her.
And on practically a weekly basis I hold WCS up as a positive example of how online advocacy CAN make a difference. In the age-old activism vs. slacktivism debate, WCS’s annual campaign to protect their state and city funding is a shining example of how an organization can successfully leverage their supporters to drive a message home to elected officials – and win that campaign.
As you can read in this case study that Convio recently released, in last year’s campaign, WCS…
- Sent more than 150,000 messages to elected officials, recruited almost 2,500 new constituents online, in addition to more than 28,000 through in-park and mobile devices
- Mobilized thousands of constituents who, in conjunction with lobbying efforts, helped to secure the attention and support of elected officials
- Restored the funding to the Environmental Protection Fund’s Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquaria Program in state budget and city budget for cultural institutions
Another best practice to learn from this campaign is that WCS used every online and offline tool in their toolbox to make the campaign successful. In addition to using standard action alerts, they spread the word via Facebook, published a YouTube video that got over 11,000 hits, had folks sign the petitions in person at the zoo, and, of course, their staff leveraged the relationships that they had with State and City officials.
In the end, this campaign succeeded in restoring $3,378,451 of the city budget and $4,500,000 of the state budget. That’s one great example of how grassroots advocacy can help with an organization’s bottom line. I have to imagine that the effort it would have taken to raise that $8 million directly from their constituents would be exponentially higher than running this advocacy campaign.
Unfortunately, almost every year WCS has to defend themselves against proposed budget cuts in NYC and Albany, so they are at it again right now. Sign up for their list and/or take action to see some of their best practices first hand. And of course, watch this year’s YouTube video (below).