Bambang Hero, a prominent environment expert in Indonesia, was sued in 2018 by a large palm oil company after he testified against their harmful practices. Soon after, Aldo, an environment advocate from a local organization called Jikalahari, started a petition on Change.org to address the courts to drop the suit. With the help of local organizations, his campaign, #SAVEOURHERO, reached more than 150,000 people, gathered a slew of media hits, and got the support of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Bambang Hero was set free.
Aldo’s campaign is just one of many that spark discussions on the global environmental movement. But not all efforts receive a rapid response from those held accountable.
In Indonesia, the innovative team at Change.org is convinced that integrating a highly-responsive digital approach to on-ground initiatives can change that.
In recent years, environmental campaigns in Indonesia were led by organizations that monitor complex issues such as deforestation and harmful plantation emissions. These groups prioritized on-ground work such as directly engaging with companies involved or lobbying in the courts. However, public awareness and support have been weak. And with little digital campaigning efforts such as raising awareness on social media, the response time has been slow.
This led Change.org Indonesia to launch a year-long project in collaboration with different groups to identify a more efficient and creative approach.
They collaborated with local organizations.
As more Indonesians used Change.org, the team observed an increase in the number of people interested in environmental issues. In Indonesia alone, Change.org saw at least 1.6 million new users in 2019 who started and supported petitions related to the environment. So the team leveraged this. With the help of local organizations, they identified and escalated 16 petitions on deforestation-related topics which eventually attracted over 3.1 million signatures.
They invested in creative communications.
Digital campaigning is a powerful tool for building momentum through scaled awareness. Change.org Indonesia supported organizations by producing an educational video they called, “change-ology,” and video narratives featuring personal stories of people directly affected by the issues. The videos, posted on social media, gained more than 30,000 engagements (likes, shares, or comments). Within a short period, more people paid attention and offered their support.
They maximized breakout moments.
Anticipating breakout moments (e.g. a new decree being published, an official being arrested) can be useful in campaigning. The team used these moments in their online content to raise awareness, boost a sense of urgency, and keep campaigns relevant. The campaign, #awasdigusur, for example, gained more than 220,000 signatures in just a few weeks as it rode the wave of a massive student protest in September 2019.
They also helped their partners communicate these complex updates creatively to make it easier for them to connect with the public.
They engaged millions of people.
More than being victims, affected community members are changemakers. So in addition to online efforts, Change.org facilitated offline events like high-level meetings between petition starters, organizations, and the decision-makers targeted in their campaigns. The meetings created much-needed dialogue and even attracted the media.
Media coverage sparked nationwide public awareness and made campaigns more likely to declare victory. Throughout their year-long project, the team was able to gather over 200 media mentions spanning online reports, primetime TV news, and newspaper articles.
Online and on-ground campaign escalation sparked meaningful conversations and resulted in more than a dozen of victorious petitions, Aldo’s #SAVEOURHERO being one of them. But more than the victory count, think about the lives that community members will now lead now that they witnessed how far collective action and digital integration can go.