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Vancity and ChangeEverything.ca


We loved working with Vancity from the minute they invited us to suggest a concept for a site to complement the brilliant Change Everything marketing campaign developed by award-winning ad firm TBWA. Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, had no trouble translating its community-oriented attitude onto the terrain of the web. How could we not love a company that cared at least as much about the community impact of its site as it did about its marketing value?

Everyone on the Vancity team helped move the site towards a vision in which the marketing value of the site was directly supported by its community impact. TBWA helped us wrap ChangeEverything.ca in a visual identity that captured the flavour of the broadcast and print campaign. William Azaroff, Vancity’s Interactive Marketing & Channel Manager, had the combination of social vision and web savvy to immediately understand the user-driven ethos of Web 2.0. That understanding translated into a warm embrace for our proposal to create a site where users create lists of changes they want to make, blog about the changes they are working on, and connect with other users who share their change goals.

Social Signal developed the site concept and strategy, set up and configured the site, and is now managing the process of extending the site’s functionality in response to user input. The site was immediately greeted by web commentators as ”the best example of any financial institution successfully using the social web” and “the first effort in financial services that can call itself a genuine blog/ social network.”

But it was really Kate Dugas, the Change Everything moderator, who helped us see the potential of Change Everything – and of our other social web tools, for that matter. When Vancouver experienced an unusual cold snap in December 2006, Kate immediately wrote a blog post calling for clothing donations for the homeless, cleverly titled “Got hats?” She solicited the loan of a car from Vancouver’s Cooperative Auto Network and personally drove around to collect all the clothes that Change Everything bloggers offered up on the site. The community’s efforts were covered extensively in the local and national media, and ultimately collected 76 bags of warm clothes at a moment of great need. We were truly humbled and inspired to see the site used in a way we could never have anticipated, by a group of people who might not have been called to action without a site that could organize their collective intentions.

In the wake of “Got hats?” the Change Everything site continues to evolve, increasingly as a support for grassroots efforts at direct community assistance. We think this model holds great promise for other progressive online communities, since it translates the self-organizing spirit of Web 2.0 into capacity for concrete action and tangible results.

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