Walk San Francisco

Mission: A model for changing urban sustainability....

San Francisco residents enjoy the convenience, health, and economic benefits of a highly-walkable community, where one out of four outings are made on foot. Unfortunately, though, at least three people on foot are struck by cars every day. Annually, 100 people are seriously or fatally injured in San Francisco and 60% of all traffic deaths involve pedestrians – a rate four times the national average. What’s the primary culprit? Dangerously designed streets that encourage excessive speeding, the leading cause of serious and fatal injuries in pedestrian collisions.

Walk San Francisco (Walk SF) is the only nonprofit voice for pedestrian safety in San Francisco. The organization makes walking safer and more enjoyable, and promotes it as the healthiest, most sustainable way to get around town. Through the current Vision Zero campaign, Walk SF has made it a citywide goal to end all serious and fatal traffic-related crashes in San Francisco by 2024. Since 1998, Walk SF has:

  • Partnered to organize car-free Sunday Streets events.

  • Won safer,15-mph school zones around 181 schools citywide – making San Francisco the first major California city to adopt these slower speed limits.

  • Launched the nation’s first citywide Walk to Work Day event to encourage and celebrate walking at least 15 minutes.

Approach: With only 10 years to garner citywide support for their 2024 Vision Zero campaign, Walk SF needed more effective strategies to attract prospective members and continue to engage and deepen relationships with current members. Their work with Full Circle Fund focused on monitoring supporter engagement and strategies for activating supporters to donate, volunteer and/or advocate. Project activities for understanding Walk SF’s current outreach efforts and opportunities for greater impact included:

  • Program Analysis – Acquiring insight into Walk SF’s processes and supporters, utilizing existing supporter data and deploying additional surveys.

  • Best Practice Research – Reviewing similar advocacy organization models and industry standards for supporter engagement.

  • Field Research – Meeting directly with supporters at the annual Peak2Peak event, a 14-mile urban trek across San Francisco.

  • Online Marketing Assessment – Providing recommendations for Walk SF’s online petition approach and supporter call to actions.

  • Email Marketing Pilot Testing – Designing and deploying a series of email campaigns to prospective and current members following Peak2Peak.

Impact: Strategic Storytelling

Using data and materials provided by Walk SF, the FCF team developed a two part strategic communication model: one labeling members and their movement up an engagement ladder, and mapping organizational touchpoints; and one for a branding strategy to develop online petition and mission-based storytelling components.

The FCF team generated a detailed Membership Engagement Framework matrix and a welcome series pilot for the engagement ladder. The series was piloted for 225+ Peak2Peak attendees. The initial results from the pilot showed significantly higher-than-average open rates as compared against nonprofit industry standards — from 33% to 53% higher. In addition, the online petition shared in the series generated the highest number of signatures for any Walk SF petition – 52% more signatures than the prior highest-ranking petition.

Based on lessons learned from the welcome series pilot, a final five-step engagement plan was created for Walk SF to implement with its annual, citywide encouragement event — the 2016 Walk to Work Day — in conjunction with the completion of a separate, grant-funded CRM software project roll-out.


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