Case Study

National Parks Conservation Association

For 100 years, the National Parks Conservation Association has stood firm, protecting and preserving the natural, cultural and historic sites that make up America’s National Park System. In 2019, it celebrated its centennial anniversary.

That role was tested in recent years as NPCA led the fight against forces bent on reshaping the use of public lands, reducing protections for clean air and water, and increasing land available for mining and drilling. To meet that challenge, the organization reached for new technology.

NPCA has long relied on Blackbaud Luminate Online for fundraising, donor management and advanced email marketing capabilities. Since 2013, NPCA has seen 124-percent growth in sustainer donors, 86-percent growth in housefile and and a twofold gain in online revenue. In 2018, it added Capitol Canary to gain high-impact advocacy tools, such as text messaging, patch-through calling and integration with regulatory agencies.


In the first year of working with Capitol Canary, NPCA reached more than 45,000 advocates through more than 30 distinct advocacy campaigns and generated more than 100,000 connections with officials in Congress and the administration.

“We want people to engage with public policy in a way that feels meaningful to them, and that reaches the right decision-makers,” said Zach Ragbourn, director of digital communications at NPCA.

“Capitol Canary gave us the tools to do that. Members and supporters can take action from their phone. They can choose to speak out via email, calls, or even social media posts. We are giving park advocates more control over how they can get involved.”

Creating Real Capability

Text messaging has been a powerful addition to the NPCA arsenal. With more than 1 million members and supporters, the organization was no stranger to advocacy. But text messaging added new capabilities. 

NPCA began by building a list of more than 5,000 text subscribers through Phone2Action, all of whom opted in to communicate with the organization from action campaigns NPCA sent out. They then sent regular, targeted messages on vital park-related issues. The results in the four largest campaigns conducted in 2019 were dramatic:

  • The conversion rate, meaning the percentage who took action when asked, averaged almost 15 percent, more than eight times the 1.8-percent industry average for email.
  • The click rate averaged 24 percent, well above the 15-percent average open rate for email.

Creating Real Change

Those numbers translated into meaningful action on some of NPCA’s top issues. For example, during the government shutdown, which caused damage and uncertainty for America’s national  parks, more than 11,000 advocates made more than 33,400 connections to Congress urging lawmakers to end the shutdown and keep national parks funded.

NPCA also had strong results connecting its audience with regulatory agencies when they ask for public input before adopting new rules. On a National Park Service rule proposal, more than 10,100 advocates submitted comments seamlessly via the NPS regulatory portal. On an EPA water protection rule, more than 14,200 advocates commented on the official docket.

“Modern advocacy requires modern tools,” Ragbourn said. “Advocates shouldn’t have to worry about the mechanics of contacting their own government. The tools should be simple, reliable, and right in their pockets.”

Key Results


Advocates were reached through 30+ distinct advocacy campaigns


Connections were generated with officials in Congress and the administration.

24% higher

Text click-rate than email


“Advocates shouldn’t have to worry about the mechanics of contacting their own government. The tools should be simple, reliable, and right in their pockets”

ZACH RAGBOURN, Director of Digital Communications

National Parks Conservation Association

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