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Crowdsourcing for Conservation

Jan 8, 2021 | 5m

Get Actionable Insights Into:

  • What crowdsourcing is and its value in conservation
  • Overcoming common obstacles in crowdsourcing
  • Tips to crafting a successful crowdsourcing campaign

Tapping on The Power of the People

What do a public petition and a crowdfunding campaign have in common? Both are means of crowdsourcing, which involves seeking help from people. While crowdsourcing can be carried out offline, such as traditionally at in-person events where members of the public come together to complete a joint artwork, crowdsourcing has been popularised in the last decade with the advent of the Internet.

Otherwise commonly referred to as “crowd power” or “people power”, crowdsourcing has given rise to successful business models of the likes of Uber and Airbnb. You may also be familiar with more organic crowdsourcing platforms, such as Quora, where users pose questions to receive answers from the crowd.

What is Crowdsourcing for Conservation?

Conservation is everybody’s business. There are many ways in which you and your community can lend a helping hand, from providing innovative solutions to environmental problems, to signing petitions to lobby for legislation to protect the environment. 

My team and I have had the privilege of engaging the community for a variety of creative campaign ideas. An example of this was when we engaged a company called UserFarm that runs crowdsourcing competitions with over 120,000 professional video producers around the world. 

We invited video submissions from the public on two topics: why climate change matters, and people’s connections with nature. The submissions ended up pleasantly surprising us! They gave us a fresh outlook on how people viewed conservation issues from an outsider’s perspective. Otherwise, we might have stuck to the same approach of emphasising on the science behind climate change.

Challenges of Crowdsourcing

Pulling off a successful crowdsourcing campaign definitely has its fair share of challenges. You can’t expect the crowd to follow your every instruction. Neither can you expect them to understand the complexities of the issues that your company or non-profit is dealing with. This is especially so for conservation, where a holistic conservation programme involves working with a variety of stakeholders. 

In most instances, people will end up giving you one type of idea that may not solve everything. Hence, calibrate your expectations right from the beginning. Provide a clear and concise brief. Narrow your brief’s scope and be as targeted as possible. You can always expand on that single idea later on.

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Bonnie Chia

Head of Brand

WWF International



Be a More Sustainable Business