The organizations working on the frontlines of environmental issues today are faced with myriad compelling opportunities to engage with a wide range of constituents (especially marginalized and underrepresented communities), to build inclusive movements, to transform policy, and to respond to the effects of climate change on people, wildlife, and landscapes. On this 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, we reflect on some trending themes in the sector:
The desire – and need – to act quickly in fluctuating political and economic conditions
We’re witnessing environmental groups being more nimble and responsive than ever in the face of local and national elections, the Covid-19 pandemic, catastrophic wildfires, and a seemingly endless array of other events affecting frontline communities, wildlife, and landscapes. Crafting clear, persuasive messaging strategies grounded in shared values helps rally existing supporters and engage first-time donors in times of need. Using multiple channels to share – and reshare – those messages – helps drive timely responses, whether for advocacy, for giving, or for both.
More so, the power of strong messaging fosters emotional connections, instills hope, and creates compelling calls to action. These calls to action allow environmental nonprofits to communicate facts and wonky terms in a way supporters can understand and share with others. Finally, stories told by affected communities – instead of about them – ensure that supporters are hearing a first-person perspective grounded in authentic lived experiences.
Inclusive movements and power sharing, especially with those harmed by environmental abuses, result in better and more durable solutions
For decades, the environmental movement has worried about its graying and white constituency. More and more environmental leaders now understand the importance of engaging younger people, Indigenous communities, and people of color so their work better reflects and centers the communities they serve. Health improves, lawmakers listen, and justice prevails.
We’re becoming aware of “emerging leaders” programs, public/private partnerships that ensure strategies and decisions are locally generated, segmented messaging for urban and rural supporters, programs to make public spaces more accessible, and land justice initiatives across the country – including a project completed by The Methow Conservancy in late 2021 to return a parcel of land to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Additionally, organizations like The Wilderness Society are increasingly guided both internally and externally by a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These organizations are stronger and their work is more meaningful and resilient as a result.
The fundraising opportunities and challenges that climate change and other big issues bring
In most communications and fundraising appeals across the movement, climate change is a given today – and the challenge is to clarify how the existential crisis intersects with each organization’s mission and response – whether the topic is food security, ocean acidification, or carbon sequestration. Furthermore, intersectionality is now explicitly acknowledged across the sector, including health, economic status, and race. Many are referencing the urgency of climate change – and building a resilient future – into direct marketing materials, while others have connected their work to broader issues and priorities including basic human needs and civil rights. Frameworks like 30 x 30 convey a sense that the window to make permanent, positive change across our lands and waters is closing, while also giving some structure and strategy to the cause.
Giving to environmental causes is thriving. The movement is broadening. The pandemic reminded us of the joy and renewal that comes from spending time outside. We thank our partners in the environmental sector for their passion, commitment, creativity, and fierce determination. Happy Earth Day.
The Campbell & Company Environmental team has worked with organizations across the sector to build philanthropic support, craft compelling cases for support, leverage donor analytics, and find visionary leaders. With a deep bench of team members based in communities across the country, our team understands the issues facing environmental organizations nationwide, and we draw from this broad experience in every partnership.
If you’re interested in launching Campbell & Company within your organization, contact us today.