Climate Solutions is a clean energy nonprofit with offices in Portland and Seattle that has been working to address the climate crisis for over 20 years. They envision “a thriving, equitable Northwest, powered by clean energy, accelerating the transition to sustainable economic prosperity across the nation and beyond.” Their work centers on championing transformational policy at the state and local levels of government. Climate Solutions works in coalition with other mission-driven organizations (such as Renew Oregon, the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists) to activate climate advocates, advance clean energy policies, and support local legislators with training and research.
A large part of their grassroots advocacy work relies on activating their audience—those folks in the Northwest who believe that clean energy is possible—and convincing them to take action by speaking at a local event or contacting their legislator. This is especially important in years where there is not a general election (such as 2019 for WA and OR), because, as Database and Engagement Systems Manager Ariana Ylvisaker says, “you can get a lot of work done at the state level when legislators are not busy campaigning.”
Ariana joined the Climate Solutions team in 2018. She inherited a database that was more a “hot mess” than a functional advocacy tool. Previously, when Climate Solutions received contact information for their audience from a new source (such as a listshare or external signup form), data-entry volunteers would add the data as custom fields to each contact record instead of updating or deleting existing data. This resulted in records with up to 6 different custom fields containing legislative district information. Addresses and districts could not be verified, and “anyone who accessed the database quickly (and rightly so) lost confidence in the accuracy of our contact records.” Climate Solutions could not confidently match their audience to districts to send effective action alerts. Ariana knew this was a great opportunity to improve their system.
Ariana began cleaning up contact records by consolidating duplicate district fields while searching for a new address verification and district matching solution. She spoke with her friend Lucy Middleton at Washington Environmental Council (their offices share a building) who recommended Cicero. After researching and testing the Cicero integration with the Nonprofit Success Pack in their Salesforce CRM, Ariana knew this was a solution that would enable her organization to match with confidence and thus “payout in two fronts: accurate audience segmentation and increased staff trust in the data.”
Using the Cicero API, Ariana verified addresses and matched them to state upper and state lower districts (now just two beautiful and clear fields) and counties. Over the course of three months, Climate Solutions enhanced all of the addresses in their database that had been added in the past five years. They saw a difference immediately:
Cicero enabled Climate Solutions to be more targeted and confident in their audience segmentation: they knew who to alert when certain representatives needed to hear from their constituents, and they could be really specific in their messaging and calls-to-action (e.g. “We know you live in the Tacoma area. Show up to this event tonight!”). Their newfound confidence led to more productivity, more outreach, and ultimately more impact.
Ariana proved to her new supervisor and colleagues that their database CRM should not just be seen as a “digital rolodex;” instead, if cleaned and updated with the proper tools, it could be leveraged to enhance their policy work. In the future, she hopes to leverage Cicero to help Climate Solutions do more local advocacy work—cities large and small are eager to show that they’re making progress towards climate goals, and in many cases are ahead of the curve in clean energy solutions. Citizens are eager to show up to local council meetings to fight for change. With Cicero’s accurate address matching and wealth of local district information, Climate Solutions can be confident that their audience will be matched to the right district and empowered to take local action against the climate crisis.