Supporters: the secret of our success

Feature story - September 17, 2004
Greenpeace activities have a high profile around the world, but there is another important side to us that doesn't get as much coverage - our supporter networks. We have almost 3 million supporters worldwide, and without them Greenpeace wouldn't exist.

Six year old Natalie Dolan sold her old toys to raise money for Greenpeace New Zealand, here she presents staff with her cheque.

Greenpeace supporters are our biggest secret - they are our cyberactivists, volunteers, donors; they are young, old, rich, poor from all walks of life and from all over the world. Our Supporter Service teams are at the ready around the world, to support our members with any queries about campaign related information, sending out newsletters and instructions on how to bequeath money. They are also ready to send back corporate or government money - that is the kind of help we don't want or need!

Each team has speciality skills to deal with local issues - like our team in Switzerland. They look after 143,000 members in three different languages. Greenpeace International, Supporter Services takes care of the membership service for supporters who live in countries where we do not have an office.

Dedicated Supporters:

Some members of the public are determined to support us, no matter what difficulties arise. For instance, when Cristina Page - a US student studying in Luxembourg - met Damiano (part of the Direct Dialogue team) she decided to donate 50 euros. Unfortunately, there were complications with the bank transactions - but this didn't deter her as her emails relate:

"I recently donated 50 euros to Greenpeace through one of your representatives, Damiano, in Luxembourg. The donation was declined through my bank account. I apologize for any inconvenience to [Greenpeace] and wish to make amends as soon as possible. The account is now current.

"I had a very positive experience with Damiano, who was very patient and friendly, so please do not let my mistake reflect poorly in his representation; he is a great asset to Greenpeace. Please, please send me the bank transfer form... I will do WHATEVER it takes to make sure you get the original donation... If I need to pick up the form at your Luxembourg office, I would do that as well, just let me know."

Starting Young:

One recent donation to the New Zealand office was from six-year-old Natalie Dolan. She met a representative on the street with her mother and was so impressed with what she heard that she decided to raise some money for Greenpeace by selling her old toys. With the help of two friends she organised the toy sale and raised NZ$60.35. She recently visited the Greenpeace offices in Auckland to meet the team and to present them with her cheque.

Freedom to Choose:

Katherine Y.M. Chan from Hong Kong recently found herself having an argument with a man in a supermarket after explaining to her daughter why she wasn't allowed Nestlé Ice Cream. The man approached Katherine after overhearing her explanation and told her that there was nothing wrong with eating Nestlé.

"The man made me angry and I responded, 'I am free to speak. Everyone knows Nestlé produces GE food. Yes, I've been eating Nestlé food for years, as my parents knew nothing about GE food. Now I am a mother…I've got the right to choose for my daughter.'

"The guy was shocked and said, 'you must be a member of that silly Greenpeace. Otherwise, you will not have so many stupid words.' I replied, 'Yes! So What? I guess you are a paid lackey of that bad company!' At least my daughter can grow healthily since I will not give poison to her.

"Many lady shoppers asked me what is GE food. I told them all I learnt from Greenpeace. After listening to what I said, most of them returned the Nestlé food in their shopping baskets back to the racks. That's what I can do!"

Out of the Blue:

Our supporter services teams never fail to be surprised by the dedication of our members. Recently, Greenpeace Netherlands was made the sole benefactor of Cor Muhlenfeld, a lady who had recently passed away.

When someone from Dutch social services contacted our supporter services regarding this matter, they were very surprised. Mi'jke Breteler from the team went to Cor Muhlenfeld's house - to find out more about her.

It seems that her home was a hoarder's paradise and hidden away among her papers was a Greenpeace member card from 1979, the year Greenpeace Netherlands was founded.

"Looking through the agenda I found out she was a busy lady. She had many friends who told me great stories about her; she worked in an antique market where she sold old glasswork and she was very fond of animals in general, and of Greenpeace. She was an artist and her house was full of paintings," said Mi'jke.

"Here in the Greenpeace office we made a collage of a painting, the member card and other personal things of Cor. Soon we will go out to the North Sea with the Argus and some of her friends and we will give her ashes to the sea."

Join Greenpeace!

Greenpeace depends on your contributions. In order to ensure that we remain an independent voice for the planet, we don't accept corporate or government funds: we rely on the small donations of millions of supporters. Greenpeace exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action. Please help by becoming a supporter today.

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