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Nature Conservancy exec: Improving mobile storytelling should be top priority

NEW YORK ? An executive from the Nature Conservancy at Mobile Commerce Daily?s fifth annual Nonprofit Mobile Day said his nonprofit organization must learn to use mobile to tell urgent, compelling stories to achieve desired results.

During the presentation titled ?The Nature Conservancy: Understanding the Wins and Losses in the Nonprofit?s Mobile Strategy,? Geof Rochester, the Arlington, VA organization's chief marketing officer, discussed the Nature Conservancy?s attempts to build engagement on mobile, and to use mobile to inspire the next generation of conservationists. He highlighted its effort to bring mobile to some of its 1,400 preserves under management. 

?If we get our arms around inspirational content we can optimize any channel,? Mr. Rochester said. ?Conversely, because we haven?t done that, we haven?t seen the kind of success I would like to see.?

Nonprofit Mobile Day, a conference owned by Mobile Commerce Daily parent Napean LLC, was co-presented with the Direct Marketing Association.

Vested interest
As the 16th largest US charity organization with revenue of $500 million and 3,700 employees, including 500 scientists, the Nature Conservancy has a huge vested interest in using mobile across its 37 countries, not just as a revenue tool but as a basis for engagement. 

Mr. Rochester cited examples of campaigns that he said would be good models for the organization to emulate.

One was Saatchi & Saatchi Sweden?s and Toyota?s effort to help drivers cut fuel consumption with a Glass of Water iPhone app. The app mimicked a glass of water placed on a car's dashboard and challenged users to not spill a drop. 

Toyota and Saatchi determined that the gentler driving style encouraged by the app would help consumers lower their fuel consumption by 10 percent, resulting in the lowering of CO2 emissions by 2 million tons a year.

The app monitored spillage, and stats were recorded on the Glass of Water site, where users could also challenge family and friends.

?We actually think our future is going to be more promotions and initiatives that bring this topic alive,? Mr. Rochester said. ?We spend a lot of time talking to a lot of smart people about how to change the dialogue and we?ve been absolutely stunningly unsuccessful. We see these types of applications as a way to focus a dialogue.?

Ground up
A campaign to save African elephants was created from the ground up to be a mobile campaign.

?This shows the evolution in our thinking as we look to mobile platforms to power our improvements,? Mr. Rochester said. ?We think a big part of what we have to do is to find these hot-button issues and use mobile to inspire (consumers) to follow them.? 

Two years ago, the Nature Conservancy launched its Nature Near You free mobile app which allows users to explore the natural world through photography, maps and social sharing. Users are able to use the map features to find nature preserves in their area.

Geof Rochester, chief marketing officer, the Nature Conservancy.

The organization is still trying to find a way to bring the mobile experience into its preserves.
?We haven?t cracked the code ? we can?t get a signal,? Mr. Rochester said. ?We?ve got two or three tests this summer on how to enhance the consumer experience when they go to a preserve and are in the park.?

Despite growing global problems, monetary support for certain humanitarian causes remains very low, he said.

The global population is surging 50 percent to 6 billion as the number of people in poverty triples. In the United States, international affairs attracted just 3 percent of support in 2012 while environmental and animal-related causes received 2 percent. 

The lack of a profit motive impairs the organization?s mobile fund-raising efforts although lack of attention to mobile initiatives in Latin America and China also has hampered results.

?As a culture the organization has to be more immersed in some of these trends we?re seeing outside the US,? Mr. Rochester said.

Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.