Interfaith Power & Light

San Francisco, CA
Round
Spring-Summer 2019
Project Location
San Francisco, CA
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Fundraising,
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Environment

Organization

Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) was founded when an Episcopal Priest at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco recognized the threat of climate change and was convinced that a logical audience to mobilize to address this threat was represented in collective congregations across the nation. Eighteen years later, IPL remains the only nationally recognized religious organization devoted to climate issues, with a track record of tangible results: shrinking carbon footprints and educating millions of people of faith about the important role they have to play addressing this challenging issue. IPL coordinates with 40 state affiliates throughout the country and works with people of all faith traditions.

Situation

IPL believes that (1) climate change is a moral issue and a moral opportunity, (2) all major faith traditions have a moral imperative to address this issue, (3) the public is increasingly receptive to the need to deal with global warming, and (4) IPL is in a unique position to influence a wide distribution of the population that is not ordinarily exposed to climate conversations. Given these beliefs, and facing a funding challenge (a lost major private grant), IPL feels that now is a good time to evaluate and expand its efforts to grow its list of supporters in order to better increase the number of individual advocates and donors to the organization.

Project Objectives

An ACT team will analyze how to expand the IPL base of both participants and funding sources via marketing communications and strategic outreach. IPL has a significant online presence and network of more than 20,000 congregations in the United States and is looking to leverage that base for growth. This, IPL feels, will require a significant re-focus on marketing and marketing methodology (social networking, branding, etc.) that has not been of particular emphasis in the past. This project is well-timed in that it will fold into a wider effort now underway of evaluating the organization’s vision, mission, values, and guiding principles, and the start of a new strategic planning process.

Project Overview

The project started with an assessment, where the team performed an opportunity sizing on IPL’s penetration among different communities of faith and those not affiliated with any congregation. The ACT team also interviewed state leads in IPL’s chapter network and some of its board members. Then, the team tapped the new ACT resource of expert advisors, and had an alum who was not otherwise involved in the project provide advice to how IPL could rise in internet search rankings and improve its presence on social media.

Key Recommendations

The ACT Team recommended the following:

1. More Partnerships. IPL is no longer the only faith-based environmental organization – from “Eco-Sikh” to a “Quaker Environmental Network”, there are now several with a shared mission to IPL, in addition to complementary environmental and religious groups.

2. Targeting. Based on the ACT team’s opportunity sizing, we showed there were greater numbers of youth to reach out to than IPL’s current ‘sweet spot’ of appealing to middle-aged women

3. Social Media. The IPL team provided advice on how to rise in search rankings and focus its Facebook efforts. IPL may even explore advertising around podcasts. 4. Word of Mouth. The clergy talk to each other, so IPL should continue its “word of mouth” campaigns. There were some faiths that were less engaged in recent campaigns than others, which IPL could focus on.

Key Conclusions

During the project, IPL shared with the ACT team that they were initiating a strategic planning exercise. The ACT team agrees with this, as several strategic questions were raised in the course of the project. These include how the national office relates and supports its state chapters, how strident of a tone to take in its environmental messaging provided to its members, and how to increase fundraising to make up for the recent losses and even grow beyond that.

Final Report Outline

  • First steps
  • Findings/Analysis
  • Recommendations
  • Next Steps