It’s a wrap! The David Suzuki Foundation project

  • By Jessica Stewart
  • |
  • Jan 6 2016
Categories: |News

What we did for DSF

I was so excited to hear I’d be working on the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) project last fall. I’ve been a fan of their organization since discovering them in 2008 while working with a non-profit coalition in Edmonton. (We were really close to bringing Severn Suzuki to speak at a conference!)

DSF plans to launch a new website within the next couple years and, being a writer-heavy organization, knew they should start with the content: both in terms of what they created and how teams worked to create and maintain it.

Kathy and I worked with a fantastic core team at DSF. Everyone was so passionate and engaged and truly ready for change. After interviews, workshops, and surveys, we formed a vision and roadmap to help DSF make sure their future content strategically meets audience needs as well as the mandate of their organization.

Why I loved this project


One of the governance issues DSF faced was their democratic culture. They needed to give someone permission to lead them. It was a very different and refreshing perspective on leadership.


Everyone cared so much about their message and their audience. We heard honest, heartfelt feedback from much of the team, both in person and through surveys.

Audience engagement

We received over 1,000 responses to the audience survey within the first few hours, and over 4,000 in total. It was amazing to see firsthand how engaged and willing to help DSF’s audience is. And we could be super confident about the results!

What I learned from it

Bring clients in early

This was the first time we’d workshopped our content strategy statement and content governance statement with the clients before presenting them. We used Sara Wachter Boettcher’s MadLibs technique to shift and tweak the statements collaboratively. The result was pre-alignment with the core team that spread through the organization.

Spend time to make time.

The pivot

Once we’d finished our discovery phase, Kathy suggested that one of our planned solutions – audience personas – might not be the most useful for where DSF was. After more brainstorming and workshopping, we decided on swapping personas for a couple governance working sessions. This change-up gave DSF a running start on their path to form a content strategy working group and hire a content leader.

Pilot projects

We mapped out several pilot projects for DSF’s first year of transition. I learned how effective this approach can be for making big changes across an organization, and iterating to find out what works best. Making changes seems less daunting when it’s confined to certain departments, workflows, or internal projects.

So, although it’s always rewarding to finish a project, I’m kind of sad this one is over! But yay for DSF and all their hard work that went into building a foundation for strategic content!


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