Ecotrust Canada sent a survey to our friends, partners, clients and supporters asking them for critical input about how we could more effectively communicate our work and mission. Communications Manager Eric Enno Tamm reports on the results.
In November 2007, Ecotrust Canada conducted a survey using Survey Monkey. We were heartened by the level of response—some 240 individuals or a 10 percent response rate.
The respondents, whose identities remained anonymous, were candid, critical and constructive. One First Nations partner also cautioned us about not exaggerating the importance of branding.
“The great success of the organization has been rooted in the skills and passion of the staff…,” the person wrote. “You can obsess about mission statements, websites and branding…but the strength of Ecotrust Canada will always be based on how well you establish and maintain relationships with First Nations, communities, and other clients.” We couldn't agree more.
What follows is a summary of some of the most important feedback that respondents provided the organization. In places, I’ve also described how this feedback helped to inform our new look, website and communications tools.
CHART 1 / Affiliations of the some 240 individuals who responded to the survey.
The vast majority of respondents could adequately describe the organization and its work. Answers consistently referred to Ecotrust Canada as combining business, entrepreneurship and economic development expertise with conservation, environmentalism and ecological values. A solid majority (62%) of respondents also picked “conservation and community economic development organization” as the phrase that most accurately describes Ecotrust Canada.
CHART 2 / Phrases describing Ecotrust Canada
- 74% could adequately and correctly describe Ecotrust Canada and its work in written responses; adequate responses included the phrase "conservation economy" or "sustainability" or mentioned both conservation and economic development.
- Respondents overwhelmingly (95%) listed positive words when asked to pick five adjectives that describe Ecotrust Canada. The top ten responses are:
10. business-oriented / professional
- A few of the negative adjectives include: lone wolf, stretched, opportunistic, elitist, distant, manipulative, mismanaged
CHART 3 & 4 / Descriptions of Ecotrust Canada
Mission Statement / Building the conservation economy
Ecotrust Canada's mission, “to build the conservation economy,” resonated surprisingly well with all groups: First Nations, corporate, government, clients, communities, nonprofits. "Building the conservation economy," in fact, rated the strongest amongst a number of taglines that we tested.
CHART 5 / "Building the conservation economy" tagline
As a result of this feedback, we decided to use the tagline "building the conservation economy" more prominently on our website, business cards and other communications material.
CHART 6 / Rating the mission statement
While "conservation economy" rated relatively well, about one-third of respondents felt that its meaning isn’t clear nor is it easily understood. Ecotrust Canada needs to do a better job in describing the conservation economy, and what it means in practical terms for entrepreneurs, communities and individual consumers.
We’ve responded by producing case studies, YouTube videos, Flickr photographs, and briefings that describe and analyze issues and enterprises in the conservation economy. We’ve also committed to using more photography, graphics, charts and maps in our communications materials that will help to simplify and make more vivid our often complex work. Check out our 2007 Annual Report by way of example.
- 81% believe that "building the conservation economy" is a very strong or strong tagline
- 71% strongly agree or agree that the “conservation economy” accurately describes Ecotrust Canada's work
- 75% could adequately or partially describe the conservation economy in written answers
More than 80 percent believe that we should continue to use traditional media such as newspapers and broadcast news to communicate our stories. A similar number also believe that we should launch a quarterly newsletter.
From this feedback, we decided to launch a quarterly e-newsletter called The Conservation Economist. The newsletter compiles quarterly highlights, news, case studies and analysis – basically what we call “intelligence on the conservation economy.” We’ve also launched a blog and will continue to publish our popular annual reports.
CHART 7 / Importance of various communications tools
Web 2.0 Tools
In June 2008, Ecotrust Canada launched a new website (and site for our subsidiary Ecotrust Canada Capital) with the help of Vancouver’s leading web development and interactive media studios, Agentic and Biro Creative. The survey provided our web developers with invaluable feedback about the types of functions and information people want from our website. Based on this feedback, we introduced Google map, e-newsletter, slide show and video functions on our new website.
CHART 8 / Rating new website functions
Ecotrust Canada can’t build the conservation economy alone. We hope that our new communications tools – videos, website, slide shows, briefings, e-newsletters – will disseminate our innovative work to a wider audience and inspire others to build communities and enterprises based on a new economics rooted in social well-being and environmental conservation.
Good communications – transparent, informative, insightful and concise – can also help us strengthen our relationships with our partners, clients, funders and friends. We’ve already received positive feedback from several funders who are excited by our new approach.
Ecotrust Canada constantly strives to improve its communications. If you have any questions about our communications work or would like to provide more feedback on particular elements, please feel free to contact me.
Eric Enno Tamm
t 604.682.4141 ext 235