My first thought was “That's absolutely brilliant!”
I envisioned “Whale Mail” as GreenPeace's way of providing email to its users. I figured Greenpeace was giving all of their members an email address that ended in “@whalemail.org” The reason I thought this was a brilliant move on GreenPeace's part is because it would be a great way to engage me in spreading the word about their “save the whales” campaign. Imagine if I sent all my mail from Joe@WhaleMail.org. And at the bottom of every message I sent – Greenpeace included an update on the whale campaign and how you could get involved. All of my friends and family would learn about GreenPeace's campaign and would be invited to join it. They could also open an email account with Greenpeace and start spreading the word in their own social networks. Greenpeace's “Save the Whale” campaign could spread virally through what is still considered the killer app – email.
Unfortunately, when I clicked on Greenpeace's “Whale Mail” feature – I found out it was just a niche Greenpeace newsletter that you could subscribe to “get regular updates and information about how you can help defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
Interestingly enough, Greenpeace does offer an email service, except they charge $6.99 a month for it. I found it difficult to sign up to get my “@mygreenpeace.com” email account for a 15 day free trial – and just as difficult to find reviews.
As online storage prices get cheaper and cheaper – GreenPeace could capitalize on their pre-built infrastructure by giving away their email feature for free! More specifically, they could raise a lot more awareness about their issues and potentially raise a lot more funds by adding a “Donate Now” button to the bottom of every email that was sent through its service.
One reason MyGreenPeace might not take off even if it was free is because people don't really want to switch their email accounts. It's kind of like asking someone to switch their physical address – and that's asking a lot! If Greenpeace would want to get their users to switch email accounts, they'd have to make this process as simple as possible. They'd have to offer instructions for how to get your old email to forward to your new address. They'd also have to help their users transfer their address books. And most importantly, they'd want to make it easy for their users to access their email outside of the mygreenpeace.com website.
Greenpeace aside, any nonprofit could use this approach to spread their campaign and engage their constituency. It's certainly not limited to saving the whales ...
Perhaps some nonprofits or grassroots groups are already using this approach? Are there any success stories? Any lessons learned? Please share in the comments.