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Year End Donations Fund Running Water


Disaster/Reactive Fundraising

Surfrider Foundation

Dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the ocean, waves and beaches, for all people.

The Challenge

Based in California, Surfrider Foundation uses its thriving activist network in coastal communities across the country to “protect our special coastal places, ensure our ocean is healthy and wild, keep pollution out of the water and make sure every beach is clean and accessible for all to enjoy.”

Its donors and other supporters are “members” assigned to a local chapter, who then have the opportunity to participate in campaigns and events. Such participation is typically to conduct important but non-emergency activities, such as beach cleanups, raising awareness, or lobbying against legislation adverse to Surfrider’s mission.

However, when nearly 150,000 gallons of oil spewed from a pipeline off the coast of Southern California, the Surfrider team had neither the processes in place nor the in-house experience to quickly communicate and raise funds against such a rapidly evolving situation. 

As such, the team was ill-positioned to mount a coordinated, multi-channel approach to reach as many people as possible during a critical fundraising moment.  

Surfrider’s challenges reflected four questions we needed to address: 

  • How can we quickly and effectively fundraise in a moment we didn’t plan for?
  • How should we leverage paid ads to reach more people who need to understand our impact during events like this?
  • What can we tell donors when we ourselves have limited information during an evolving disaster?
  • How do we ensure our message is reaching intended audiences?

Our Solution

CauseMic guided Surfrider’s approach for quickly communicating with donors, demonstrating credibility and adaptability as the oil-spill situation rapidly evolved. 

In doing so:

  • We prioritized urgency and trust with donors to validate Surfrider as the right organization to hold big oil accountable.
  • We quickly developed a landing page that displayed the latest, most relevant oil-spill information and asked for donations as soon as possible.
  • We leveraged a multi-channel approach to reaching the right audiences with the right messages, including (a) paid social media ads with an urgent appeal to give to Surfrider, (b) email and SMS to keep subscribers updated on the clean-up and advocacy efforts, and (c) a website “takeover” by the oil spill, reinforcing it as a substantial, timely event that required significant subscriber response.
  • We pushed for progress and speed over perfection to let supporters know how Surfrider was going to respond and leverage donations for impact.

The Results

In Q4 of 2021, Surfrider acquired more than 2,700 new donors (25% of the individuals who made a gift from October through December), which was more than any other quarter in the previous five years. 

Also in Q4 of 2021, Surfrider increased revenue by 36% year over year.

Within 48 hours, Surfrider created its first optimized, disaster-focused landing page designed to educate visitors on the scale of the issue and effectively convert them to donors.

Surfrider adapted quickly to prioritize the emergency and, as a result, created a new standard operating procedure for responding to future disasters.

Surfrider leveraged the moment to increase their SMS subscriber list, allowing them to provide timely updates and ways to engage through volunteerism, advocacy, and membership.

Communicating across owned, paid, and earned channels, the Surfrider team built trust via a cohesive, consistent message with how to hold big oil accountable.

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"CauseMic serves as a trusted guide through rapid growth, where many stakeholders are involved and things are often changing quickly.

They’re able to help us turn lofty visions into actionable steps, empowering us to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.” 

Surfrider Foundation

Michele Kremer
Chief Operating Officer

We can help you maximize impact, whether planned or reactive.

Successful messaging and fundraising begin with a timely, actionable plan. With our experience and proven methods, we can help you create and execute one that matches your ongoing or emergency needs! 

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