PROJECT TYPE: Advocacy + NGOs ICAN
Building ICAN's Digital Power to Achieve a Nuclear Free World
The world has changed. Ever since the world witnessed with horror as two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of one of the most brutal conflicts in human history, anti-nuclear activists have been advocating for a world free of these devastatingly destructive weapons. Only a few decades ago, a nuclear free world seemed out of reach, and while the threat they pose still looms large, we have begun to see that denuclearisation is an achievable goal, thanks to the tireless work of the anti-nuclear movement.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is at the heart of this movement. ICAN is a powerful coalition of non-governmental organisations advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons. With over 500 partner organisations in over 100 countries around the world, ICAN has reached tremendous success, including pushing through the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons - the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. While ICAN has made great strides toward reaching their ultimate goal of a complete global abolition of nuclear weapons, they needed the right digital strategy and tools to move them, and the global community, even closer.
With the doomsday clock closer than ever before to midnight, ICAN’s mission to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons has never been more urgent. In order to harness the momentum coming off their remarkable accomplishments, including their 2017 Nobel Peace Prize win, they needed a strong digital strategy and the tools to implement them. ICAN was looking to more deeply engage and recruit new supporters around the world, quickly and effectively communicate the need for disarmament, and organise massive local action on a global scale. However, engaging a diverse group of people, from researchers, to activists, to politicians, to students, and scalably communicating and organising this mosaic of supporters in a streamlined, effective way, is not an easy task.
Tectonica traveled to ICAN’s headquarters in Geneva for a two day strategic summit with their staff to obtain a deeper understanding of ICAN’s organisational vision and the campaign’s current goals and challenges. We learned that while their old site had an impressive volume of traffic, it had an almost equally high bounce rate - implying most site visitors who came across the site immediately left. It was evident that without clear navigation and opportunities for engagement, ICAN was losing valuable opportunities to engage and recruit supporters to grow their movement.
ICAN was using multiple sites to meet the complex needs of the organisation and its campaigns, but because the sites didn’t align under one brand, this approach struggled to effectively organise diverse groups of users and cultivate their support by congregating data in one place. It was important to ICAN that their recruitment strategy apply an intersectional approach to engagement that linked their movement to other social movements. As the coalition has asserted, “A fierce resistance means connecting with other movements and initiatives for social change. Gun violence, climate change, racial justice, indigenous rights, diversity in political life—all of these and so much more are relevant for challenging nuclear weapons.”
Without an organised database (CRM) to manage their supporters and segment and develop relationships with diverse groups of stakeholders, ICAN wasn’t able to maximise engagement by offering different opportunities for involvement that met supporters where they were. Tectonica was prepared to use its digital expertise earned in the experiences of over 300 projects in over 30 countries around the world to help ICAN achieve their objectives.
Now came the time to put pen to paper. With the information gathered from our summit, we set out to underpin the visual identity refresh process, develop the build of a new supporter-engagement-system, and create a public-facing website designed to maximise the organisation’s potential to achieve its goals.
ICAN needed a flexible digital tool that would allow it to quickly spin up engagement campaigns, coordinate rapid response activities to respond to events as they happen, and build strong relationships with their supporters. Tectonica moved ICAN’s site to NationBuilder to take advantage of NationBuilder’s fully integrated platform. In addition to creating ICAN’s main site, we created several NationBuilder subsites that are easy to duplicate to set up specific campaigns, whether it’s organising cities with their #ICANSave campaign or launching broadscale university divestment campaigns. These subsites were designed to be used as templates for activities, including launching petitions and contacting representatives, and allow ICAN staff to easily update pages on their own.
Additionally, an integrated platform allows ICAN to organise supporters of different campaigns in the backend, where each supporter has a consolidated record of activities. The tools provided on the NationBuilder platform allow ICAN to personalise engagement and build their community by offering supporters new and different ways to get involved and by making sure that the relationship with supporters is dynamic and responsive to their needs and abilities.
Tectonica’s goal was help empower ICAN’s larger goal: to create a global mind-shift in attitudes on nuclear weapons. To achieve this, the organisation needed to increase broader public understanding of and participation in its work by embarking on a diversification of its outreach to and engagement of supporters currently not involved in partner organisations, as well as utilise digital technologies to support the work of their partners. Instead of relying only on the centralised system in which coalition members did a large share of recruitment and engagement of supporters, we created an engagement center prominent on ICAN’s main page to change that dynamic and allow ICAN to do more direct campaign recruitment and take advantage of major traffic to its site. Additionally, by making it easy for ICAN to support coalition partners in their efforts to secure more nations to ratify the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) through unique country pages, Tectonica has made it easier for ICAN to move closer to its goal of ratifying the treaty and ensuring that it will go into legal force.
“This was a huge project for ICAN to undertake as a small team - a simultaneous branding update, a full website overhaul and a migration to a whole new CRM system - but we saw it as a critical investment in a new system that will help us engage new audiences, build stronger relationships and empower our campaigners and network to be more effective in their advocacy to end nuclear weapons. Having Tectonica’s support, with their great team willing to dive into technical or visual details but also to pull us back to keep an eye on the overall goals, was invaluable and has left us with a result to be proud of, and a system we can’t wait to put through its paces.”
- Lucero Oyarzun, Digital Campaign Coordinator
By implementing a robust digital strategy and providing ICAN with a powerful set of digital tools that allows it to increase engagement and mobilise supporters around the world, Tectonica has made it easier for ICAN to massively grow its movement and achieve its goal of abolishing nuclear weapons. The new website structure and its improved accessibility of information on each page has already yielded a number of concrete and positive results. In December 2019, with the use of the supporter segmentation tool for fundraising in NB, ICAN saw a huge uptick in donations to the organisation, receiving more donations than during the same period in 2017, right after their historic Nobel Peace Prize win. Beatrice Finn, ICAN’s Executive Director, credits this positive activity/engagement to the clean structure of the donations page and improved accessibility of information and resources that inspires confidence in the organisation.
Having all your digital tools and data integrated onto one platform always helps. In ICAN’s case, the connected nature of the NationBuilder platform meant that rather than recreating processes and using several communication/distribution channels to reach people who interact with ICAN in a meaningful way (and invariably slip through the cracks resulting in loss of engagement), staff at all levels in the organisation can monitor the relationships ICAN is forming with its supporters and communicate with them in a personalised way.
Team members have also reported that key and influential people in their network are using the new site as a go-to resource in meetings with high level members of foreign ministries and governments to learn more about how a country is doing with respect to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and access other relevant information for their work.
We’re ecstatic that we have already been recognised for our work on this project: Tectonica and ICAN were awarded Best Overall Website at the Reeds 2020, one of the most-coveted awards in the political campaign industry. We’re proud of our partnership with ICAN on this important project, and excited to see how the tools and strategies that are the fruit of our collaboration continue to move us all closer to global denuclearisation. Onward!