How have WildTeam built a global community of 1,000 conservationists to find solutions to save more wildlife?

Discover why Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager believed 'it was especially timely to open their virtual doors during lockdown' and how the team have made such a success of it.

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Download the full WildHub case study here.

WildHub is an online community of conservationists, powered by Zapnito, that supports the WildTeam efforts. The community now has over 1,000 members across 80 countries. Conservation organization WildTeam exists to give conservationists the skills to design and improve conservation projects and save more wildlife. It does this through field-testing solutions, collaboration, and classroom training.

Building the WildHub
The need for a digital platform that could empower its members to share their knowledge and ideas in the conservation space became apparent to the WildTeam. It recognized that the traditional methods of professional development in conservation were slow and time-limited. By building an expert-driven community, it hoped to share practical lessons and knowledge to help the sector adapt quickly to new demands, accelerate efforts, and improve best practices.

“WildHub was a way of accessing and leveraging everyone's knowledge and experience. You can accelerate conservation so fast with that medium of this online community.”

Adam Barlow, WildTeam Executive Director

The Zapnito team was brought on-board to help WildTeam create an open environment for conservation and engagement. The goal of the community is to provide a space to exchange ideas, create new solutions, and make new partnerships to enable better, faster, and cheaper conservation. Members are encouraged to work towards common goals, and to have the confidence to take part in conversations and seek out support.

In partnership with Zapnito, WildTeam was able to structure and launch their community in the critical and challenging time at the very beginning of lockdown. Both parties were able to communicate efficiently and regularly through virtual meetings and online support to ensure the implementation of connectivity tools and shared content were ready in preparation for this new venture.

“I don't have a background in [technology] and [the Zapnito team] made me feel empowered to actually move things forward.”

Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager

The value of the community has also been expressed by its members, with one conservation scientist stating that she “...thought it was a wonderful space that people in the wildlife community can share their experiences and learn from each other." and a conservationist practitioner mentioned that she “feels very valued in the WildHub community.".

COVID-19’s impact
Due to COVID-19, the need for a virtual space was accelerated with WildHub opening to members at the start of the UK’s lockdown in March. The online community gives members a place to discuss their conservation efforts and ideas, even when unable to travel internationally to meet each other. Moreover, this time of difficulty is creating more challenges for conservationists, who have turned to the WildHub community to discuss and share with their peers. 

“I think for us, it was really timely to open our virtual doors during lockdown to provide that space.”

Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager

Virtual events
The community has brought together conservationists on a number of occasions including the Deep Dive webinar in April. In their own words, this “celebrated our members' conservation success in building capacity for conservation; we learned from each other and provided mutual encouragement to your fellow conservationists!”. As the discussion was shared here, all members of the WildHub are able to be part of the ongoing conversation and engage with the experts long after the day’s event.

The network has also hosted their first “dynamic and delightful four-day WildHub Festival” with ten sessions, each “initiated and organised by WildHub members”. This level of engagement from community users can be quite rare so to have members running their own conferences only three months into the site’s launch is an amazing achievement.

Furthermore, based on the Swedish tradition of meeting regularly for quality conversation over cake and coffee, the hub offers an opportunity for members to find fellow conservationists and passionate wildlife lovers to come together for one-to-one discussion each month. Designed to bring the community together, the ‘Fika’ is free for your personal and also professional development to meet new people, exchange new ideas and help others achieve conservation success around the world.

The community’s growth
Within six months, the online community has grown to over 1,000 members. Engagement has remained high, with a lot of content being shared on the platform. Member feedback has been positive, particularly highlighting how useful the knowledge-sharing, tools, and networking are to their current roles and challenges. The focus for WildTeam is now on keeping this momentum going and converting new members into regular, confident contributors.

“Don't focus on numbers. It's more about the engagement. Focus on building a core of active members [because] they can help you shape the community.”

Advice for other community managers and growth, from Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager

Future plans
WildHub plan to make the community more accessible to members from other cultures and countries in which English isn’t widely spoken, by supporting multiple languages within the community rooms and content. The team also wants to continue the early work and connections made in the community by helping people match with others based on their skills and what knowledge is needed. This will go wider than conservationists to include professionals from other sectors such as finance, graphic design, or marketing, who wish to support conservation efforts.

“[We are planning to] create a space for [members] to say, “Hey, this is me. These are the skills that I can offer to conservationists” So a bit of a matchmaking space, which I think can really strengthen the sector”

Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager

Thirza also explains that “Reaching 1000 members is [a] collective achievement, because many of you have acted as ambassadors for our community.” followed by one example of a fellow WildHub enthusiast demonstrating her appreciation for the community in a LinkedIn post with a call to ‘join today!’.

Max Inchcoombe

Marketing Manager, Zapnito

Into my third year at Zapnito now, some of my responsibilities include email marketing, running the social media accounts, site/community reporting, event organising and sales assistance. If you have any questions for me on Zapnito or what we do, I'll be happy to help!

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