Case Study

Food & Water Watch

The Food & Water Watch used Upland Mobile Messaging to drive a pressure surge of phone calls and voicemails to the White House about fracking.


Create a Pressure Surge of Calls to the White House

Food & Water Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to making sure the food we eat is clean, safe and sustainable. Their campaign to “Ban Fracking” is aimed at limiting a dangerous process that uses water and toxic chemicals to mine natural gas.

The Ban Fracking campaign has its heart and soul in telephone calls. To create the maximum political effect, Food & Water Watch wanted to organize national call-in days to pressure the White House to pay attention to the fracking issue.

To do so, they needed advanced call-in technology that would make it simple for their supporters to dial Washington. They also needed to make it simple for the Food & Water Watch staff members to manage and track. “We used to rely on people self-reporting their calls to us,” said Meredith Begin of Food & Water Watch. “But we know that it’s just a small percentage of people who actually do that.”


A Mobile Call-In Campaign That Made Activism Easy From Multiple Media

Food & Water Watch used Upland Mobile Messaging’s mConnect application to make sure that the calls they solicited had the maximum possible impact.

First, Food & Water Watch reached out across all forms of media urging supporters to call the White House. To keep track of exactly where their calls were coming from, they set up five separate VoIP numbers:

  • A number for their on-the-ground canvassers to distribute
  • A number in their email outreach
  • A click-to-call box on a Facebook page
  • A dedicated number for their coalition partners to use
  • A number to use as part of a text broadcast to their mobile list

Those people who clicked to call were asked if they wanted to opt in to the broader Food & Water Watch mobile campaign. If they accepted, they received a follow-up text message asking them to pass the message on to three friends.

Each of the VoIP numbers connected the callers directly to the White House. Additionally, mConnect’s click-to-call feature allowed text, email and Facebook users to make the call instantly. That translated the impulse to help directly into action, with none of the intermediate steps that might lose a less determined caller.

Food & Water Watch created a steady stream of pressure by focusing their efforts not just at one moment, but in targeted waves throughout the course of the day. This ensured that the overloaded White House switchboard would be able to receive the maximum number of calls. And even if callers did get a busy signal, Food & Water Watch used mConnect’s voicemail feature to ensure that no call was wasted. Any caller that received a busy signal had the option to leave a voicemail, stored on the mConnect system. Food & Water Watch collected the voicemails on a disk to use as further evidence of the growing concern over fracking.

“The Upland Mobile Messaging team is very responsive and very accessible,” Begin said. “When I was getting my feet wet, they walked me through the steps and gave us ideas of what we could do. I know for a lot of organizations that need support, that’s hugely important.”


Meetings with the White House and a Database of Engaged Advocates

One recent Food & Water Watch call-in day yielded 6,000 calls to the White House – overwhelming the switchboard and creating a powerful political statement of voter support. After another call-in day, Food & Water Watch was invited to a White House meeting. There, they expressed the urgency of their mission – and hand-delivered a CD with hundreds of recorded voicemails that had not reached the White House switchboard.  The White House representatives told them their call-in campaign had been “very effective” – the highest possible praise in advocacy.

Additionally, unlike with previous call-in campaigns, Food & Water Watch now knows exactly who’s making their calls, and when and where those calls come from. By using separate VoIP numbers, it’s easy for Food & Water Watch to tell what type of outreach is most effective – on-the-ground, Facebook, email, or text.

Furthermore, because mConnect keeps a record of every click and call stored in every user’s profile, Food & Water Watch can determine who are their most active advocates. That means they can personalize their ongoing contact – to solicit more calls, ask people to share actions with their friends or just to say “thanks” for taking action.

“Being able to track it and see how many people are making the call using the VoIP number has been hugely helpful,” said Begin.

This data is not only helping them cement their relationships with current supporters – it’s also giving them ideas of where to look next in their ongoing campaign.

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