Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so much fun?
Indigenous peoples in Canada have earned powerful constitutional rights over major projects on their lands, yet governments and big business continue to ignore them. Pull Together was created as a grassroots campaign to fund First Nations legal battles and stop unwanted fossil fuel projects, together.
The campaign was designed in co-operation with Netchange.co as a directed network campaign, and its success was based on using all four principles. It was most importantly open to people power. Our only engine of growth was our supporters, and all of our stories were about the achievements and priorities of people who cared deeply about indigenous rights and defending the coast and the climate from pipeline and tanker expansion. Our peer-to-peer fundraising platform empowered over 300 fundraisers to tap their networks, raising an average of $750 each. We offered toolkits, webinars, and mentoring to volunteers who went on to lead over 200 community events. Our success came organically from people organizing and sharing stories.
We shared the compelling stories of Indigenous community leaders that tapped into the movement of people who felt betrayed by pipeline approvals, or who were moved to put Indigenous reconciliation into action. Our theory of change – that Indigenous lawsuits can stop unwanted projects – was clear, as was our work organizing multiple First Nations to work together and join one single legal fund. The Pull Together brand, developed with Coast Salish artist Mark Gauti, was easy to re-mix and share. Finally the campaign was driven by visuals: photos, infographics, videos, and photos from events created an unstoppable sense of momentum.
Our team’s primary role was to convene cross-movement network hubs. The issue bridged the Indigenous rights, climate justice, and environmental movements, and we spent our time helping others do the work of the campaign. Our core group itself was a collaboration among three NGO’s. Fundraising income came from multiple sources: online fundraising networks, community events, values-aligned businesses, NGO allies, and direct donations, with all these “many paddles” making light work of a big fundraising pull.
Finally we ran with focus and discipline. We regularly reviewed our data and pivoted towards activities that were achieving the best results while dropping things that weren’t. We watched for and organized around moments of political leverage or media attention. And we were committed for the long haul: each campaign cycle took at least 3 months from initial launch to our engaged base to build up to a peak in the wider movement.
Pull Together was a joint initiative with Sierra Club BC and Force of Nature Alliance.
- Over $1.25M in funds raised, with no pre-existing list or community
- Funds supported 10 First Nations communities, who didn’t have to divert money from essential community services
- 5,000 individual donors, 300 online fundraisers, 200+ community events
- Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline cancelled due to First Nations opposition
- Kinder Morgan pipeline on the ropes, largely due to First Nations lawsuits