Case Study #2 – Social Media is a New Force for NGOs


There’s a radical new approach in online community to drive  NGO campaigns. For a long time, most NGOs used to mail (or call) potential donors for donation and to give them paper-flyers for PR.  Now, the Internet gives a new opportunity to change these approaches in less time-consuming and less expensive ways. In this post, I would like to introduce the National Audubon Society (Audubon for short) as one of the  sucessful NGOs wisely using social media in its saving wildlife campaign.

Founded in 1905, Audubon is on the ground working to rescue wildlife, restore habitats, communicate the impact for additional funds and advocate for more support. I am sure that most people still remember the oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Seven months after the tragic incident, the oil continues to gush, not only wreaking havoc on human lives but on precious ecosystems and the animals.

Ironically, this explosion becomes an opportunity for Audubon to take back leadership in the wildlife organization category. As grassroots action has increased, Audubon has  also reinvented its strategy to integrate more people interested in saving wildlife. Of course, social media is using as a key promotion tool for Audubon.

Since 2007, Audubon has expanded its social media strategies from its website to blog and web-zine. As publics (activists, volunteers, and donors) are willing to know about Audubon, it is important to educate them about the organization and to give them right information. In that point, Audubon’s web content are enough to satisfy publics’ learning expectiation.  

When it comes to oil crisis, however, Audubon needed more powerful strategies to provoke grassroots. Its Facebook page (Oiled Wildlife Rescue Volunteers) began to build strong relationships with over 8,900 fans. Audubon also launched SOS (Save Our Shore), a webpage that people from Facebook can donate money and volunteer their time for saving wildlife. In fact, this Facebook idea came from a 14-year-old young girl named Nicole Yarnold. She is the daughter of the new president of Audubon, David Yarnold. When Nicole and David talked about reaching a younger audience in terms of the BP crisis, she offered him to open Facebook page. So far, her advice has turned out to be great.   

 *A Picture of volunteering work in the Gulf of Mexico from Facebook (Oiled Wildlife Resqued Volunteers) 

 Audubon blog has also filled with interesting stories about its volunteers. By uploading pictures, letters and videos from grassroots, Audubon shows people that it values the voices of people caring endangered wildlife after the oil spill.  For example, 11-year-old Olivia Bouler began sending original bird web-illustrations to donors of Audubon after hearing about the oil spill. Her artistic talent has touched many contributors and has drawn more people’s attention via the Internet to save wildlife.

In the non-profit sector, what makes people engaged in campaign is passionate activists, not fancy advertisings nor famous celebrities.  Based on two young girls’ efforts, I believe that social media strategies has helped change Audubon more active organization to engage people than before.


About jiyoonchoi

Welcome to "Love Social Media". As a student studying media communication, I am happy to communicate with other webusers so please come to my page and feel free to leave your comment.
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