Animal Place – Hosting First Annual Farmed Animal Conference

by Heather Kallevig

The planet is populated by 7 billion people.  While that is a large number, it is miniscule compared to the number of animals with whom we share the planet.  The Earth is a wonderful landscape of biodiversity, and it’s our job as the most influential species to ensure that biodiversity is maintained.  Advocacy is raising awareness of the impact we bear on many different groups including endangered species and domesticated animals.  Animal welfare groups are increasing in number and the support they receive from activists and donors is necessary to maintain this growth.

One group of animals who tend to receive the least amount of attention is the group on which we are most dependent – farm animals.  Farm animals meet a variety of human needs including clothing, food, and labor – not to mention companionship.  The number of animals used in agriculture is shocking.  The population of cows in the US offers some perspective.  According to the National Cattlemen’s Association, in 2014 there were 89.9 million cows in the US alone!  Because of our dependence it is disheartening we take these animals for granted and know so little about the intelligence, emotions, and capabilities of farm animals.

Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA works to raise awareness and advocate for health and wellness of farm animals including cows, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and pigs (to name a few).  This great organization offers opportunities for people all over the world to learn more about the animals we depend on and to help improve their situation.  While their work is year round, they will be having an event to take note of this summer.

On June 5-7, 2015, the organization will be hosting the first annual ANIMAL PLACE FARMED ANIMAL CONFERENCE.  Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the facility, spend time with the animals, participate in interactive workshops, and listen to engaging speakers.  The whole purpose is to discover more about farm animals and learn how to become stronger advocates for this wonderful group of animals. 

If you’re in the California area this summer, make time to travel to Grass Valley, one of the most beautiful regions in the state, and take part in this great new event.  If you are unable to attend, visit the organization’s website, and consider stopping by the facility at another time.  You can also offer your support by donating or fostering an animal.

Make the future brighter for this important group of beings.

Why protect ANWR?

by Heather Kallevig

For more than 30 years, the state of Alaska has been a high priority on environmental organizations watch list. Known as “the Last Frontier,” anyone who has visited the state of Alaska knows it deserves the name. With more coastlines than the contiguous United States combined, 3 million lakes, and 663,300 square miles for its 736,732 people, Alaska is truly a sanctuary for wildlife (Facts about Alaska, n.d.). The state is also a rich area for natural resources. The clash of these two advantages is the reason for many long-standing disputes over Alaska’s frontiers.   In 2015, environmental advocates achieved a coup when the Obama administration proposed an extension of “wilderness” in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to 12.28 million acres. While this recommendation does not ensure the region’s protection, it is a significant step in the right direction. Nonprofit organization’s crisis communication tactics have played an instrumental role in gaining the support of other organizations – private and public – and the attention of the people, to aid and protect Alaska’s lands (Sanders, 2015).

The future of ANWR has rested in the balance for years. Coined, “The American Serengeti” for its rich biodiversity and pristine ecosystems, ANWR on Alaska’s North Slope offers habitat to over 200 species of birds, 42 species of fish, and 45 mammals – including the polar bear and a herd of 120,000 caribou (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015). Established as a refuge in 1960 by the Eisenhower Administration, this region is also protected from oil and gas drilling. The issue concerning ANWR has seen several threatening events since the 1980s, which have brought the refuge into public attention. The first took place in 1989, when a bill to open the refuge nearly passed, failing only because public attention was so wrought by the disastrous Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

While this disaster brought discussions on ANWR to a halt, recent developments have “tipped” the refuge back into the public eye. “Despite the current administration’s repeal of the offshore drilling ban, 130 members of Congress have cosponsored pending Arctic refuge wilderness bills” (Englehard, 2010). Other protected areas in Alaska are also under contestation including the Chukchi Sea and the National Petroleum Reserve, the decisions concerning ANWR could set an important precedent for Alaska’ future. Lobbyists for both environmental organizations and energy corporations are actively vying for the future of ANWR, hoping to sway future policy in their favor (Eilperin, 2015).

Environmental organizations heavily contest drilling in prominent wildlife sanctuaries. The history of oil and gas extraction in Alaska is polluted by ongoing, distressing mishaps, which dumped crude materials into important breeding and nesting areas. The Exxon-Valdez oil spill is the worse case, but not the only instance. Environmentalists and their allies are striving to ensure these events don’t increase by limiting drilling in key sanctuaries.

Rallying for ANWR

Nonprofit organizations must often work with limited resources to complete large jobs. This is why it is essential for these groups to build and maintain relationships with like-minded organizations. By building coalitions, they gain financial resources, geographic spread, and communicative manpower. In response to ANWR, they developed a large coalition of individuals, local, state, and national organizations. These included noted journalists, local and national politicians, and pro-environment, anti-drilling organizations. Other noted supporters include the National Wildlife Federation, the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Senator John McCain, while running for president on the republican ticket, with an Alaskan vice president, quoted “As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades. This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world” (Khanna, 2008). Words like this, prove the support of committed groups and individuals is invaluable. The strength and reach of the coalition is a strong and valuable tool in a crisis campaign.

One of the most valuable responses for a nonprofit in crisis is to gain the support of the general public. Often impacted individuals are unaware of potential threats; by informing the public NPOs can gain the support of motivated and influential advocates. Organizations utilize several tactics to inform their publics. These include weekly newsletters, regular social media postings, relevant blogs, and a regularly updated webpage. Organizations’ state and local chapters are also instrumental in gaining the attention of the media, maintaining relationships with journalists, and encouraging the regular publication of crisis-related stories. These stories often link to a group’s main webpage where individuals have the opportunity to donate, sign petitions, and send letters or e-mails to their state and national representatives. These final steps are also important for gaining the attention of policy leaders in Washington.

The final step taken by environmental NPOs is to gain the attention of government officials through constituent attention and building relationships with leaders through necessary lobbying. In the American political system, it is necessary to contribute to candidate funding to lobby important issues. Because of limited funding, environmental organization’s contribution is quite small when compared to large industries and corporations with competing views. This is why the other two tactics – building coalitions and informing the publics – are also essential for an NPO facing crisis.

In modern society, environmental nonprofit organizations are constantly on the brink of crisis. There is an ongoing chance that one of the many issues watched by an organization will suddenly tip over into crisis. When this takes place, organizations must be ready to respond quickly. To do so, they must be prepared with a communication action plan – an established coalition of supporters, a means for networking and informing the public, and the presence of influential lobbyists in Washington. The primary purpose of environmental nonprofits is to influence public policy, organizational action, or social norms and values (Smith, 1997). In the case of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, their success can be gauged by President Obama’s January 2015 endorsement to further protect this valuable sanctuary. Their dedicated and widespread communication tactics are a fundamental element of this victory. It is likely, this is not last time ANWR will be under attack, therefore it is important that environmentalists and their supporters remain prepared with a plan in place for rapid mobilization when the future tipping event strikes again.

Eilperin, J. (2015, January 26). Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge — Alaska Republicans declare war. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/25/obama-administration-to-propose-new-wilderness-protections-in-arctic-refuge-alaska-republicans-declare-war/

Facts About Alaska. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://alaska.gov/kids/learn/facts.htm

Khanna, S. (2008, June 19). McCain Now Says He’s ‘More Than Happy’ To Consider Flip-Flopping On Alaskan Oil Drilling. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2008/06/19/24920/mccain-anwr/

Sanders, S. (2015, January 25). Obama Proposes New Protections For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/25/379795695/obama-proposes-new-protections-for-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

Smith, S. (1997, March 15). Developing new reflexes in framing stories. Paper presented at the Pew Center/RTNDF workshop “Civic Journalism: Doing it Daily,” Chicago. Retrieved February 16, 2006 from: http://www.pewcenter.org/doingcj/civiccat/displayCivcat.php?id=97

How Social Media has Changed Activism – A look at the benefits of online collective activism

by Heather Kallevig

Image from the-platform.org.uk

One of the greatest problems historically hounding Nonprofits has been marketing. How can an organization with very little funds and a meager budget ever hope to effectively advertise? Traditionally methods included word of mouth, fliers, conventional media – radio, TV, newspapers, etc. These past techniques required a great deal of legwork and hours to maintain. They often required funds, which could be controversial. Many frowned upon a company, whose sole purpose is to raise money toward a cause, using any of those donated funds to advertise. These were difficult days for our idealist world-changers.

Today, thanks to the social Internet, information and communication technologies (ICTs), nonprofits are discovering new techniques and opportunities for voicing their cause. These new technologies are transforming the ways people interact and share information online. Social technology in the form of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and content-sharing websites (Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr) are the new platforms for online collective activism. Nonprofits can effectively use these platforms to reach vast numbers of people using e-word of mouth through likes, sharing, comments, e-mail, etc. Information sharing that used to take work for all involved, from the creators, to the sharers, to the receivers, is now as easy as the click of a mouse and a few short words – maybe even 140 characters.

Activism on the technology level is faster and easier than ever before, allowing more people to get involved, and increasing the spread of ideas to a rapidity never before witnessed. For nonprofits this is beneficial. The recent icebucket challenge by the ALS association is a great example. A seemingly silly idea went viral and everyone from children to celebrities was getting involved, either donating and/or letting someone drop an ice-cold bucket of water over their head. I myself was a participant.

Videos, pictures, stories, and events can be used to rapidly gain the attention of millions. Hope for Paws, a small animal rescue in Los Angeles, California gained national attention when their happy ending videos went viral. This small organization has gained much-needed funds and become a sort of mentor for other similar organizations. Here’s a video of one of their rescues.

Social media can also be used to raise awareness and gain support. According to Stacy Grau in her book, Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations, Water.org uses social media to raise awareness, raise funds, and enable participation by allowing interested parties to follow a project from start to finish. This encourages interest, donation, and participation.  Little do people know this organization was actually co-founded by Matt Damon.

If a small organization wants to increase their online presence, there are a few small things they can do. First, they can easily maintain a website through wordpress or weebly. Second, hire or engage a volunteer to maintain their various social media platforms. Maintaining an online presence does require regular interaction and frequent posts, so this is where volunteers and the online collective activism can be utilized. Finding supporters to maintain Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube content is essential. The webpage is equally important. If an organization has the funds and spread they can hire a social media manager for $400-800 a month depending on their requirements.

The social Internet can help nonprofits grow by increasing awareness and knowledge. Thanks to the advent of social media, nonprofit marketing is reaching new levels, allowing the opportunity for growth never seen before. They can reach out to people who may not have been in their circuit with traditional activism. It will be interesting to see how this impacts organizations over the next few years as they create, maintain, and grow their online presence.

Resources:

Grau, S. (2014). Marketing for nonprofit organizations: Insights and innovation. Chicago, Ill.: Lyceum Books.

Lee, Y., & Hsieh, G. (2013). Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism: The effects of moral balancing and consistency in online activism. CHI 2013: Changing Perspectives, Paris, France, Crowds and Activism.

Yuce, S., Agarwal, Wigand, Lim, & Robinson. (2014). Studying the Evolution of Online Collective Action: Saudi Arabia Women’s ‘Oct26Driving’ Twitter Campaign.

Weak Ties and Nonprofit Marketing

by Heather Kallevig

Marketing is an important part of running a business or organization. In order to gain supporters, customers, people using your service, etc, a company must use public relations, advertising, and market research to promote and sell their products and services. All of these components require dedication of time and money. This is how for-profit companies stay afloat. For nonprofit organizations, this is where the problem comes in.

Historically it has not been socially acceptable for a nonprofit organization to spend their limited resources on marketing – whether it be the time of employees and volunteers or their small funds. This view is generally held by consumers, and felt by the nonprofit organization (Grau, 2014). Here is where the problem lies, how may a nonprofit organization gain support without traditional marketing strategies? How can new innovations increase the visibility of nonprofit organizations? These are the questions I wish to address in this post.

 

  1. How may a nonprofit organization gain support without traditional marketing strategies?

The answer lies in weak ties. In 1973 Mark Granovetter established the idea of weak ties – a connection between individuals and their acquaintances and strong ties – close friends and/or family members. Since this first publication these terms have become an established link in social network theory and social network analysis. Weak ties specifically have diverse benefits for individuals and society. These benefits include “innovation diffusion” – which applies to the circulation of ideas and information (Granovetter, 1983).

The concept of innovation or information diffusion can explain the success of many different nonprofit organizations. Their “marketing” takes place when awareness of a cause, brand, activities, fundraising, etc are passed in a network from one group to the next via weak and strong ties. The more weak ties an organization maintains, the stronger their outreach will be and in turn the likelihood of their success will be greater.

  1. How can new innovations increase the visibility of nonprofit organizations?

As our society bounces back from the recession and our government battles a major deficit, we see some alterations in the ways nonprofits can gain financial support. They are seeing diminishing government funding and thus increased reliance on vested independent donors (Grau, 2014). Their weak ties are more important than ever. Nonprofits are leaning to the help of new platforms through social media. Without spending a great deal of time and money, nonprofits can utilize social media platforms to make their weak tie network even larger, increase awareness, and gain additional support. Effective use of weak ties and social media can significantly improve a nonprofit organization’s success rate.

Granovetter, M. (1983). The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.

Sociological Theory, 1, 201-233.

Grau, S. (2014). Marketing for nonprofit organizations: Insights and innovation.

Chicago, Ill.: Lyceum Books.