Case Study

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) uses Upland Mobile Messaging to grow, diversify, and engage their mobile audience organically with a series of creative cross-channel campaigns.


How do you build and engage a diverse audience of young activists?

Founded in 1970, NRDC strives to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.

But they can’t do it alone. To accomplish their mission of safeguarding the air, water, and wild, they must continue to grow their network of members and activists. NRDC sought to strengthen and diversify their ranks with new activists for the next generation.

One way to grow an engaged network? By connecting with them via SMS. While social media is good for building awareness, SMS provides a direct line of communication to committed supporters, enabling NRDC to connect these supporters with ways to take action instantly.

That’s why NRDC turned to Upland Mobile Messaging to execute a series of campaigns that would convert their social audience into engaged members of their mobile list.


Create a combination of cross-channel campaigns.

SMS allows nonprofits to communicate with supporters in a friendly, informal way, but getting the most value from SMS requires a willingness to experiment. Using Upland Mobile Messaging, NRDC created three innovative social campaigns that captured their audience’s attention—and their mobile numbers.

Generating Buzz During Pollinator Week

Growing a nonprofit list requires knowing what issues matter to the audience. For the younger members of NRDC’s audience, one of those issues is the plight of honeybees.

NRDC capitalized on this interest in protecting bees during Pollinator Week, a seven-day celebration of the species necessary for healthy ecosystems.

Their social media team created an eye-catching organic campaign that asked people to text BUZZ to 213331 for a link with ways to save the bees.

This campaign harnessed NRDC’s knowledge of what would engage their younger audiences, and it paid off. These social posts led to successful list growth – all without paid ads.

Promoting Sustainability on Toilet Paper Day

Viral holidays provide ample opportunities for audience engagement – even the most unlikely of holidays. NRDC used National Toilet Paper Day to educate their audience on the environmental impact of non-recycled toilet paper.

To accomplish this, NRDC set up an mData campaign that could return data via SMS based on user input. NRDC then invited their mobile list to text them with the name of their preferred toilet paper brand, and those who replied would automatically receive their brand’s sustainability score based on a joint NRDC and Report.

With a novel approach to a niche holiday, NRDC was able to go beyond the typical fundraising call-to-action to deliver engaging, informative content to their mobile list.

Driving Calls to Stop the Williams Pipeline

While themed days are good for social media engagement, NRDC and their audience are ultimately committed to taking serious action on environmental issues. So when the proposed Williams Pipeline threatened to carry fracked gas through New York Harbor and the Rockaways, NRDC launched a campaign to stop it.

NRDC ran a mix of paid and organic posts across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter asking pipeline opponents to text PIPELINE to 213332.

With an mConnect (Text-to-Phone) campaign, NRDC could respond to these texts with the number to call New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office instantly and make their voice heard.

To maximize the relevance and success of their efforts, NRDC created additional social calls-to-action as new pipeline developments would arise, providing new audiences with a seamless way to make calls throughout the campaign.


New, engaged audiences.

These campaigns gave activists an avenue for action while also enabling NRDC to grow their mobile network organically. The Pollinator Week campaign drove 9% of their list growth for the month of June, while the Williams Pipeline campaign resulted in 14% of their list growth for the month of April, leading to two of their most successful months of the year for list growth.

Earning these new mobile opt-ins gives NRDC a direct channel to engage new supporters in the future with calls-to-action, as well as by sending informative content. In fact, content delivery and audience education has proven a particularly effective use for NRDC’s text message program: sending news alerts via SMS has accounted for as much as 50% of a single post’s traffic. During the Toilet Paper Day campaign, nearly 5% of recipients replied to NRDC’s text, and NRDC saw some donor revenue as a direct result of the campaign.

Because these people opted into NRDC’s text messaging list from an issue-based campaign, they have indicated an interest in specific causes. NRDC can use this information to target them with relevant messaging around the issues they care about in the future. They can also send content about other issues to educate single-issue audiences on NRDC’s broader mission and strengthen their efforts with impassioned, informed activists.


1) Text BUZZ to 21333 to receive updates via text message from NRDC. Text STOP to quit. Text HELP for more info. Message & data rates may apply.

2) Text PIPELINE to 21333 to receive updates via text message from NRDC. Text STOP to quit. Text HELP for more info. Message & data rates may apply.

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