WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards


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How to win votes and influence conservation innovation

Posted by Paul Ward Sep 29, 2015

On Saturday I got a text from a mate (cheers Robbie @goodnature) asking whether I’d checked out WWF’s Conservation Innovation Awards: “tieke in the city would be great for the community project category”. 

I hadn’t, and when I scanned the details re-considering submitting Polhill, I saw that the crowdsourcing process was just about closed (we had six days). Bugger - it looked like a great opportunity filled with promising projects. I was anxious that we didn’t have enough time to gee up the required support (and a little intimidated by the deep discussion already onsite), and I mailed WWF’s Lee to see if it was worth submitting. 

‘What have you got to lose?’ Lee said, to kick us up the butt. And fair enough: if we are a community project that couldn’t rustle 30 votes, then it’s not a great starting point for consideration is it?   

So it’s a couple of days later, and after a nervy Sunday arvo submission, we’ve met our milestones to be considered. Lee asked us to blog about how we got to our vote target swiftly. 

There’s no secret sauce: Polhill has captured hundreds of people’s imaginations, and we have a broad group of Polhill Protectors passionately working to achieve the vision to get saddleback (and more) back in the city. 

BUT we still had to get them to vote in a short space of time. So, if it’s inspiration to any of the other projects still clicking refresh on the climb to 30, here’s what we did:

As the Awards' voting process means people have to register and then vote, we had to shift people out of browse mode and spur them to commit. We sent out a short email to our general mailing list with very clear instructions on what to do (a. register b. vote - click here etc.). It was entitled ‘Polhill needs your vote’, and I signed off with a bit of humour ('the birds will tweet their thanks!) to leaven the imperative.

Our first target was to reach 30, but we also need to demonstrate the depth of commitment to the Polhill experiment, and generate comparable commentary to projects that had been up for weeks. So we sent a separate message to a ‘hard core' of Polhill Protectors, who we urged to comment personally, or on behalf of their organisation. We could be a bit more ‘pushy’ in asking these folks to vote as they had the most invested in Polhill (e.g. the Massey design students who are using Polhill as their subject for Creative Enterprise paper; cheers to Hannah Ng for the great tieke promo image). 

We also have an active Facebook page where we posted. Some of these users intersect but there are also others who are not on mailing lists, and might still want to show support; so, still effective. I held off doing this until Monday during work hours (when more people would be checking social media …) and commented after hours to refresh the post when people would be checking in again after bedtime/dinner etc. 

We’re fortunate in that many of our group (Victoria and Massey students, travel bloggers, instagrammers, tech/IT workers etc.) are digital natives so could respond quickly. We all live busy lives, so the strategy was to make the process as simple as possible.

This same kaupapa informs the conservation work we’re doing in Polhill: give supporters the platform to express their passion for the space and its birds’n’bush, at a level that works for them (alongside, and often with, family, study commitments). They might be into getting amongst it in the field with the kaka, toutouwai and tieke (trapping, monitoring, research, planting etc.), but if biking or sliding down gnarly hillsides isn’t your thing, you can help with social media, GIS, data entry, comms, mail-drops (or refreshments, cheers Garage Project!) = make it natural for supporters to love nature.

Anyway, hope that has been helpful: take Lee’s “nothing to lose” advice and rally your troops. Good luck! It’s inspiring to see the level of thought and commitment amongst the proposals.

Go well.

Paul @Polhill Protectors

Check out our idea "Saddleback in the City"

This post was edited on Sep 23, 2016 by Michelle Eggleton

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Comments (1)

Lee Barry says... Sep 29, 2015

Thanks for the awesome story Paul! Proving you have support for your idea is a key criteria for innovation. By each of our idea submitters bringing their own community of supporters online to this challenge, we hope to build a "joined up" conservation innovation community. It sure helps to garner support if you are as savvy as Paul is with the specifically times social media posts. Cor - what an expert!

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