Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Greenpeace International - Eight Countries, Six Languages

If you market a campaign as global, you better show people it's global.
That was the motto brandished by Greenpeace International during the planning stages of the nonprofit's global "The Great Whale Trail" tagging campaign. The accompanying Web site had the same global objective, with the added and very ambitious goal of combining activism with fundraising -online.

"What we're doing, in a sense, is inventing the wheel," said Ryann Miller, fundraising innovation consultant at Toronto-based HJC New Media, which partnered with Greenpeace to develop the online peer-to-peer fundraising aspect of The Great Whale Trail campaign. "This is not direct marketing. This is not direct mail. So, it's a lot harder for us to project what a campaign is going to end up looking like. We're still seeing what the potential is."

The Web site (, said Miller, is modifiable by each participating Greenpeace national regional office (NRO), but the main points remain congruent throughout. The custom-built platform includes a sidebar located on the right side of the page, which displays three ranking lists, "Latest Donors," "Global Top Fundraisers," and "Top Fundraisers," each updated automatically. "We built this tool and this campaign so that it would work in each and every country office," said Miller.

Still in the early stages of the project (it was launched at the beginning of November), Greenpeace International New Media Fundraiser Alexandra Merory, based in the Netherlands, said the group is not ready to share how much has been raised. She did speak to the uniqueness of the effort, and to its sometimes-unexpected successes.

"The Great Whale Trail tagging project has been an important project as through the scientific research," said Merory by email. "We approached the issue in a new way, and through the social network fundraising we allowed supporters to engage with the campaign in a different way."

According to Merory, the nonprofit managed to roll out the peer-to-peer fundraising in eight countries with very different markets, and in six languages. The participating countries include places where whaling is a big market, such as Japan and New Zealand, but there were also a few surprises. "Happy" surprises, said HJC's Miller.

"Hungary is a great example of a smaller regional office that is more nimble, and eager to take a chance and a risk," Merory said of the landlocked eastern European nation. Greenpeace's NRO in China also found success with the effort, as evidenced by the reigning "Global Top Fundraiser," Joe Wu of China, whose individual Web page (all in Chinese except for the dollars raised) shows that Wu garnered eight sponsors and raised $1,050 (as of Dec. 13).

Traffic to the group's Google Maps Web page, which uses satellite tracking to show the migration of threatened humpback whales has been impressive, said Merory. (Note: the posting of the whales' location is delayed to ensure whalers cannot locate them) And as a not-so-side note side note, a contest to name one of the whales resulted in "a huge viral explosion," she said, with more than 115,000 votes cast worldwide for the winning name, "Mr. Splashy Pants."

The contest was cited on several Web sites. People created their own "Vote for Mr. Splashy Pants" groups on Facebook; and, the "Mr. Splashy Pants" Web site earned the top spot on the user-generated site

"This goes back to the psychology of it all," said Miller. "If you tell me that a campaign is global, I want to see that it's global. It fosters a much greater sense of connection and interaction with people around the world, united for this one single cause." - Marla E. Nobles

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