The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of organizations with the same goal in mind – protect the nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places. Through outreach and citizen involvement, the nonprofit Coalition works to protect endangered species and the special places where they live.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws that enable the Coalition to defend and advocate for many of the most vulnerable species. More than 84 percent of Americans support the ESA and 87 percent agree it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants and fish from extinction.
Worldwide, plants and animals are disappearing at an alarming rate and the natural ecosystems all humans depend on are at risk. In the United States alone, scientists estimate that more than 500 species have disappeared in the last 200 years. The Endangered Species Coalition plays a critical role in the awareness and protection of these endangered species.
The Endangered Species Coalition works through grassroots organizing to engage and mobilize citizens to participate in the process of protecting wildlife and the land in which they live.
Protecting the gray wolf
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency responsible for the ESA’s implementation, recently attempted to remove federal protection for a population of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.
The restoration of wolves has been documented as one of the biggest successes of the Endangered Species Act since it was originally passed in 1973. Wolves are an iconic, native species that play a vital role in restoring healthy ecosystems by keeping prey species in balance.
With the removal of this protection, gray wolves in Wyoming for example, could be killed at any time by anyone within a “predator zone” extending over 80 percent of the state. In the smaller “game zone” wolves could be hunted right up to the border of Yellowstone National Park, threatening even the wolves of Yellowstone, should they step outside park boundaries.
“Nationwide delisting of the gray wolf now will halt four decades of progress in its tracks and could expose America’s still-recovering wolves to unwarranted and unsustainable killing,” said Mitch Merry, online organizer, Endangered Species Coalition. “More than 2,900 wolves have been killed in the Northern Rockies and Western Great Lakes since losing ESA protections– and now the Service is attempting to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the remainder of the country. To fight this, we mobilized our member groups and advocates with Salsa. We gave them the tools they needed to facilitate action against the Service’s delisting measure.”
Technology enabling the passion to do good in the world
The Endangered Species Coalition initially chose Salsa in 2008 and in the first year of use saw a 71 percent increase in supporter list growth. Today, the nonprofit continues to utilize Salsa’s platform to combine integration and list management with customer-facing capabilities enabling the Coalition to have a one-stop solution for integrating targeted actions, advocacy campaigns and donations management.
“I use Salsa every day,” Merry said. “We have had great success growing and segmenting our lists. We use Salsa for all our interactions – from our member groups to activists to donors. We couldn’t do what we do everyday without it and because of this, we’ve run some really successful campaigns; it’s been a really good year for us.”
Leading the effort to support the protection laws of the gray wolf over the last 16 months has been a big priority for the Endangered Species Coalition along with its member groups that work in the conservation community. The focus of their most recent campaign was to bring attention to the findings of an independent peer review panel that found that the Service’s proposal was not in keeping with best available science.
Successful fundraising and organizing relies on a comprehensive communication outreach strategy. To effectively execute that strategy, the right combination of technology is required to be able to tune and refine a campaign as needed.
The Coalition used Salsa’s advocacy, communication and donation tools to facilitate action and affect real change. With every aspect of its campaign in one platform, the Coalition was able to centralize workflow and mobilize supporters quickly. Salsa integrated new petition signers into the Coalition’s database and email distribution groups to help grow its community of supporters as well as its impact.
“To bring awareness to the issue, we did multiple email blasts to our active supporter lists as well as a lot of work to organize comments into the U.S. Department of Interior proposing withdrawal,” said Merry. “It was also our first time to include the goal thermometer. Our campaign was so successful we had to go back to the plugin’s developers and have them program an extra digit on the thermometer to show the level of success we’ve had.”
Utilizing Salsa’s broadcast email and donor management functionalities, the Coalition was able to personalize its messages, target the appropriate audience with email segmentation and then review the message, send immediately or schedule the email for a specific day and time.
Merry added, “Emails won’t work if they aren’t seen by our supporters – Salsa’s platform enabled us to determine the best time to send emails and gave us testing options so we could decide which message will yield the highest open rates.”
Putting up a good fight
The campaign was a huge success. The Coalition’s activist list saw tremendous growth with a 232 percent increase in just 12 months. Donations were also up 61 percent in that same period of time.
“We, along with our member groups gathered 1.5 million signatures and comments in opposition of delisting the gray wolf, which is the most of any endangered species-related rule submitted to the Department of Interior to date,” said Merry.
On September 23, 2014, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the delisting of wolves in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act.
Merry added, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome, but the fight is far from over. Someday, when wolves have recovered throughout most of their historic range, and when states refrain from managing their wolf populations in a politically driven race to the bottom, then perhaps delisting is an option worth debating. Until then, we will continue our education and outreach in support of the wolf, and Salsa will continue to play a big part in our ability to bring in supporters that would not otherwise be involved in endangered species issues.”