Raising $1.25M to stop pipelines with a directed-network campaign.
For Pull Together
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 as a directed network, 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 them, never us. Our peer-to-peer fundraising software empowered over 300 of them to tap their networks, raising an average of $750 each, and we offered toolkits, webinars, and mentoring to volunteers who went on to lead over 200 community events. Starting with no list or existing base, our growth came organically from people organizing and sharing stories.
We framed a compelling story that tapped into the emotions of people who felt betrayed by pipeline approvals, or 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 join one single fund, removing the politics of having to choose a case or Nation to back. Our open source brand was easy to re-mix and share, and not associated with any particular NGO. Finally the campaign was driven by visuals: photos, infographics, videos, and photos from events created an unstoppable sense of momentum.
Our campaign 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 two or sometimes 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 had a real campaign budget – you don’t raise a million with no staff! 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.
NetChange donated over $20,000 of our time to co-create and lead Pull Together.
- 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