Wilderness Society started in 1976 as a local grassroots protest committed to stopping the construction of an environmentally-damaging dam in Tasmania. Today, the organization has evolved into a national operation with 80 staff members and over 400 volunteers spread all over Australia.
Driven by an unwavering commitment to protecting and restoring the natural world for future generations, Wilderness Society has spearheaded numerous campaigns in its 40-year history, pushing governments and corporations to acknowledge and protect Australia’s unique places and wildlife.
As a fast-paced advocacy organization operating in a rapidly-changing environment, quality design and effortless collaboration are key to its activities: from campaigning and fundraising all the way to engaging communities on and offline.
Micaela Jemison, Manager of Content and Collaboration, oversees the production and distribution of digital media across the organization’s channels.
She explains, the small, centralized content team services multiple groups across the organization, from grassroots teams and supporters to digital campaigns and fundraising. “We’re the Venn diagram in the middle of all of that and Canva has made design accessible across our entire organization,” Micaela says.
With staff working remotely across the country, Micaela says communicating and distributing highly visual communications at speed has been critical to the organization’s success.
“Often we're having to create materials very quickly in response to events that have occurred in the media, and we have a relatively small communications team for the size of the organization,” she says.
When Micaela joined the organization in 2018, Canva was being used by a small number of staff.
It didn’t take long, however, for things to change. “Canva has become our primary design tool and a huge part of our day-to-day business is now done in Canva, from digital advertising and petitions to designs for our website, emails, social media and internal reports”, adds Micaela.
By extending the use of Canva across the organization, Wilderness Society now uses the design platform to safely manage its brand and sub-brands, ensuring brand consistency across the board.
Canva also empowers the team to enhance internal communication and collaboration, enabling the fast creation of new visual formats that can quickly engage and inform audiences.
Manager of Content and Collaboration, Wilderness Society
Showing up with a consistent voice and branding is key to preserving the credibility of an advocacy organization. Wilderness Society teams have instant access to branded templates and Brand Kit information within Canva to ensure total brand safety.
“Canva really democratized design for us. It's made design accessible across our teams, not just for the designers and people in social”, explains Micaela.
“We set up templates for staff to use. Giving them the ability to create templates and easily update or tweak the content or images every time there’s a new need has been of huge value.”
For video and graphic designers such as Phoebe Chan, this templatized brand system has been a huge time-saver.
With Canva, Phoebe could create and save new templates for both internal staff and external partners to easily access, ensuring brand consistency and fast content creation across all channels.
“We use Canva for our videos, Instagram Stories, carousels, Twitter posts and more. And we know whoever's using our designs are using them the way we want them to,” Phoebe says.
Providing clear and compelling visual communication is crucial for any advocacy organization to inform and engage audiences – and it often needs to happen quickly.
Wilderness Society creates visual social templates and infographics to simplify complex information, as seen with their campaign to save Wollemi National Park in New South Wales from the threat of coal mining.
“We created simple color-coded maps in Canva showing how close to the park the designated mining areas were,” Phoebe explains.
“The visuals combined with the use of animated elements like arrows, made it really easy for people to visualize and we got great engagement. The uptake was incredible and we got a lot of sign-ups on our petition and a successful outcome to the campaign."
Creating vertical and social video is also a core part of the organization’s strategy, who uses Canva to generate explainer-style videos on important environmental issues such as the pace of deforestation in Australia.
“With Canva we can quickly upload and edit footage, add animation effects and color correct videos without having to deal with large files or jump between software”, explains Phoebe.
Canva has also supported the team to unlock and test new channels to connect with external audiences.
“When I joined the team, a new brand had just been rolled out, which is a big change in a 40-year-old organization. However, the new branding guidelines didn’t include all social channels. Canva has allowed us to quickly adapt our brand to new formats,” Micaela explains.
Social media became even more crucial during the COVID pandemic as the team explored and experimented with new ways to communicate with supporters online, such as Facebook Live.
“Our live events became quite popular and Canva made it easy to create and roll out a whole suite of graphics to support event production,” she says.
Trivia Tuesdays on Instagram was another experiment that turned out to be a big hit among the nonprofit’s followers. “It was a way for us to engage our audiences and help them learn about Australian wildlife,” explains Phoebe.
“We saw massive growth with that and people became actual fans, to the point that they would contact us to find out what was happening whenever we skipped a Trivia Tuesday.”
Canva’s realtime collaboration capabilities have been a huge boon for the organization’s remote workforce.
“Canva has been perfect for us as we are a decentralized team”, explains Micaela, who admits: “Phoebe and I have actually never met in person yet!”
“When I joined the organization, there were two barriers to collaboration: sharing large files and needing expensive licenses to give people access to design tools, including people with very little design background”, she adds.
Today, Canva is the primary design and communication tool for the 25-strong cross-organisational team, helping staff to quickly collaborate on designs and fast-track approval processes no matter their design experience or location.
“We don’t need to wait hours before approval or use additional apps to communicate. We comment in realtime within Canva”, explains Phoebe.
Micaela adds another advantage is giving people one-stop access to essential Brand Kit information, such as fonts, logos, and campaign templates, which has proved useful for volunteers to quickly use and collaborate.
“Canva was a real-game changer, particularly when the pandemic happened. Our interns were able to work from home and do design work for us. It was easy for them to share designs and comments”, she says.
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