Nature Canada

Engagement Program


We would like to acknowledge the Gosling Foundation for supporting this work.

There are hundreds of groups across Canada devoted to getting people out in nature and working actively on conservation. We call these groups the “Nature Network.”

While the mission of these groups is about nature, how they achieve their mission is about people. They function with volunteers, with donors, and with supporters of all kinds.

This means that each of these groups has an interest in good public engagement.

Some engagement practices are changing particularly as society becomes more digital, while other practices remain as relevant today as they have been forever.

Nature Canada provides various tools and services to help Nature Network groups improve their public engagement. We focus on an approach called “engagement organizing” that combines new digital practices with old-school organizing methods. In order to access the below, please sign up for our Engagement E-newsletter! We offer:

Is your organization part of the Nature Network in Canada? We believe you are if:

  1. You have programming that takes people out in nature
  2. You are active in conservation

Conversely, you may not be in the Nature Network if you are an environmental group without outings or a recreation group without any work on conservation.

Membership vs. Supporters Report

We know many groups within our Nature Network have been struggling with the question of the Membership vs. Supporter model for how they engage the public. Many of our groups have inherited the membership model from nature organizations that date way back to the late 1800s, and we haven’t necessarily changed our ways. This report written by Matt Price looks at both of these models and identifies ways to modernize them, interviewing nature organizations to get a clear picture of where the sector is currently at. Whether you are already membership or supporter driven, we highly encourage you to take a read!

Engagement Organizing

Engagement organizing is an approach that marries organizing, technology and a culture of developing leadership in others. The model includes a focus on relationship building and mobilization of supporters at the heart of the mission to create resilient, effective organizations.

Image of Engagement Organizing Triangle

“Organizing” in this definition is the art of building the agency of others, rather than doing all the work yourself. A first step is to identify who your people are – like-minded others who may want to contribute to your mission through volunteering or donating.

Multiple avenues for engaging these people are then created, contact information gathered, and asks made for people to progressively more with you in a ‘pyramid’ of engagement. As more people engage, you identify and train leaders and build teams to take on various tasks.

All of this is done with the assistance of digital tools. The internet is a good addition to other tactics to identify and recruit people. Free or inexpensive online tools can also help manage mass emails, events, and data.

Here are some case studies of nature groups practicing various elements of engagement organizing.

We utilize the 5 Principles of Engagement Organizing that Matt Price outlines in his book, he has kindly distilled these into a short guide for our use. You can dive in to learn more about these principles, how you can implement them for the benefit of your organization and read case studies for some inspiration! You can find a downloadable PDF here

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team at   

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.