Greenpeace Greenwire site on a laptop
Drupal Case Study

Greenpeace uses Drupal to Empower, Grow Volunteering

Greenpeace Greenwire social network spurs 600% increase in volunteering

With millions of site visitors and over 2.2 million Facebook likes, Greenpeace gets thousands of requests every year from all over the world asking whether people can “do something” for the organization. Unfortunately, the organization was not able to respond to all requests. It didn’t have any way to offer these potential volunteers good options for converting their ideas and energy into actions.

To enable these volunteers to help make the planet greener, Greenpeace created its own online participation network, “Greenpeace Greenwire” designed and built with Drupal, the open source CMS. The Greenwire platform allows employees and volunteers to contact and talk with each other, exchange ideas, and make plans for events, campaigns, or actions. In addition to participating in existing Greenpeace activities, volunteers can develop their own activities and constituencies to support the Greenpeace mission.

Greenpeace gave Dutch Drupal service provider GoalGorilla a mandate that was challenging, yet perfectly fit the values of the company and the broader Drupal community: “We want to create the best open-source social platform ever made by mankind and save the planet. No pressure ;)"

Drupal enables global grassroots activism

In considering options for building and hosting this new, expanded volunteer community, Greenpeace chose Drupal for its open source community and values, technical flexibility, and proven security. Greenpeace Greenwire is modeled on GoalGorilla’s success building a Drupal-based empowerment platform for Greenpeace Netherlands--where roughly half of users are actively commenting or are engaged with growing volunteer networks.

Collaboration is the central theme of the Greenpeace Greenwire platform, from conception to implementation and improvement. From the start, the global community of employees and volunteers has collectively determined the manner in which the community has developed. The platform grows and changes based on their ideas and comments. Once a month, the managers of each country meet to discuss new developments and determine priorities. The Greenpeace product owners and GoalGorilla’s project managers then collaborate to meet the community’s ongoing digital needs.

One challenge in making this community work at a global scale is the need for complex access permissions for various kinds of users. Individual volunteers need to be able to manage projects and discussions on their own, but Greenpeace offices also need to ensure synchronicity and consistency across the various regional portals. Drupal allowed the design team to build tools that enable the quick addition of new regions, including appropriate content and language access. A new, purpose-built API allows Greenpeace offices to synchronize their sites and users with Greenwire, enabling them to reach out locally as well as make use of the larger volunteer community. Drupal enables content exchange and shared user-membership between the site’s multiple, regional domains. Each domain can also have different, custom user roles if required.

On the platform, members can build their own groups--small social networks within the larger community--based on their own interests. Since members create these groups themselves and can even define how others can join their group, they also decide what the goals and activities of that group will be. Rather than Greenpeace setting up a large event and hoping interested users will show up, the groups allow members to exchange content and plan (local) activities--letting them “do something” that interests and excites them, while contributing to the overall mission of the organization. As users share their projects, new volunteers are provided with a collection of successful models for further activities, and new micro-communities continue to build around what new users care about--and what drew them to Greenpeace in the first place.

All of this adds up to a technical volunteering solution that is turning volunteering on its head at international scale and enabling meaningful collaboration right down to the local level.

Greenwire event calendar on smartphone

A sixfold increase in the number of volunteers

Since the initial launch in 2013, the Greenpeace Greenwire platform has grown into an international project, helping volunteers in 13 languages and 16 regions as of mid-2015. More than 30,000 members have organized more than 3000 events so far. Greenpeace’s goal is to be running in roughly 40 regions and 60 languages by the end of 2016. The potential of this community was always there, but it took a new, technical approach executed in Drupal to bring it to fruition. Greenpeace Greenwire has allowed local groups that share common concerns to connect with each other directly, building grassroots volunteerism back into an already well-established international organization. As new user communities coalesce on the site, new projects are executed much more effectively than the previous, top down, “everyone-do-this-one-thing-we-say” approach--as the community itself collects and publishes its collective experience, knowledge, and expertise.

The goal that Greenpeace pursues with Greenwire is clear: more active volunteers and more volunteer-driven activities should enable Greenpeace to make more of a difference for a greener planet. And it works! In the Netherlands, the number of volunteers increased sixfold after the launch of Greenpeace Greenwire. The platform made it possible, for example, to mobilize an unprecedented number of volunteers for the Dutch open day on the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace flagship.

"Greenwire is increasing Greenpeace's reach and amplifying the power of our volunteers every day. By enabling people to self-organize and providing them the tools to coordinate, learn from each other, and share their ideas and stories, it provides a place to create remarkable campaigns and content, extending our reach far beyond the limits of our staff numbers and office locations. It uses bits in the ether to put boots on the ground. It's a key element of a future in which the lines between online and offline activism are further blurred, and more people can find more meaningful ways to join in efforts to build a green and peaceful future.” - Brian Fitzgerald, Greenpeace International Head of Digital Network & Mobilization.

Greenwire event page on laptop screen

Community by the numbers

Building a technical solution is one thing. Building an active community and maintaining its energy is another. A volunteering-analytics solution was developed to keep a finger on the community’s pulse. The results so far are promising:

  • 20,723 members
  • 16 live regional sites
  • Collaborating in 13 languages
  • Have organized 3,206 events.
  • Greenpeace plans to expand Greenwire to 40 regions and 60 languages.

Engagement*

  • 53% social connections (member with more than 10 Greenwire friends)
  • 41% active online (Greenwire shouts and comments)
  • 26% event participation (members who joined 1 or more event)

*based on Greenwire Netherlands in the period of January 16, 2015 - April 16, 2015

Implementation

The philosophy of open source software--based on the values of freedom, sharing, and transparency--is a good fit for Greenpeace. GoalGorilla’s Drupal expertise and working history with Greenpeace Netherlands made them the perfect choice for implementing this flexible, scalable, global solution.

Read the technical case study about the Greenpeace Greenwire platform on Drupal.org: https://www.drupal.org/node/2346705

Greenpeace chose Drupal for their global Greenwire platform to put "bits in the ether to put boots on the ground." It has helped Greenpeace change the face of volunteering and empower thousands of people become to become active volunteers and make a difference in the world.
Greenpeace Greenwire
"Greenwire is increasing Greenpeace's reach and amplifying the power of our volunteers every day. It's a key element of a future in which the lines between online and offline activism are further blurred ..." - Brian Fitzgerald, Greenpeace International Head of Digital Network & Mobilization.

Facts & Figures

As of spring 2015:

  • 20,723 members
  • 16 live regional sites
  • Collaborating in 13 languages
  • Have organized 3,206 events.
  • Greenpeace plans to expand Greenwire to 40 regions and 60 languages.

Engagement*

  • 53% social connections (member with more than 10 Greenwire friends)
  • 41% active online (Greenwire shouts and comments)
  • 26% event participation (members who joined 1 or more event)

*based on Greenwire Netherlands in the period of January 16, 2015 - April 16, 2015

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