Celebrating 50 years
This was a special year for Solidaridad as it marked our 50th anniversary. It gave us the opportunity to look back at our history, and to examine present-day challenges more thoroughly. We used it to engage all our stakeholders and partners in dialogue about the future. We did this throughout the year, in all eight regions we work in, through multiple meetings and events.
We hosted a flagship conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in May. We invited over 300 global partners to the event, and asked them to share their vision with us on challenging themes such as access to finance, climate adaptation, youth employment, and public private partnerships to transform supply chains.
It was at this event that Nico Roozen officially stepped down from his role as Solidaridad’s executive director. He handed the baton to Jeroen Douglas to lead the next evolution of the organisation. Our anniversary and the leadership change both received widespread media interest, and resulted in 40 reports in both Dutch and international media sources.
Events as a tool for engagement
We were highly visible as thought leaders at debates and conferences this year, with over 70 appearances. For instance, Mawuse Hotor, a cocoa farmer from Ghana who participates in one of our programmes, answered questions from the public at the World Cocoa Conference in Berlin.
We attended the 15th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), and at the OECD meeting on responsible minerals, where we drew special attention to the position of women in artisanal and small-scale mining.
At the OECD meeting, we launched our exhibition around women working in small-scale mining, financed through the Golden Line programme.
The launch of our photo exhibition at an OECD meeting, featuring women in small-scale gold mining, organized with Golden Line
In 2019, we reached over 210 million potential readers through engagement with the press. Most visibility came from articles in Dutch newspapers, such as Trouw and NRC Handelsblad, and TV performances, such as Hart van Nederland, and RTL Live. Outside the Netherlands, we worked on featured articles in general media like Euronews and AllAfrica, and trade media such as Global Coffee Report, FoodNavigator, Confectionery News, Ecotextile News, Fibre2Fashion, BEEF magazine and Undercurrent News.
We attracted extensive media interest around the launch of a range of palm oil-free margarine products on the Dutch market. The brand, Flower Farm, spread misleading information about palm oil. Together with the industry association for margarine and oils, we filed a complaint with the Dutch Advertising Code Authority, which found in our favour, and ordered Flower Farm to change its branding and advertising.
We also drew attention around a consumer campaign which we launched in the Netherlands on 29 November, Black Friday. This campaign aimed to raise awareness about the unequal distribution of value in the supply chain. We opened a one-day pop-up store in the offices of one of our partners, True Price, on a busy shopping street in Amsterdam.
Inside our anti-Black Friday pop-up shop in Amsterdam, which raised awareness of low prices paid to farmers
We sold coffee, bananas, and chocolate bars at bargain prices, equal to the value that farmers earn by selling these products. Through a special online tool, we showed visitors how value in the three supply chains is currently divided, and we asked them to choose a more equitable division.
The campaign was one of the first ‘anti-Black Friday’ campaigns in the Netherlands, and echoed the negative sentiment in Dutch society around buying huge amounts of deeply discounted products on one day. National and regional newspapers, TV programmes, and social media influencers were eager to report on the campaign, which ensured over 24 million potential views, and an advertising value equivalency of 180,000 euros (exclusive of TV and radio).
We posted no less than 123 articles in 2019: an average of over two a week. In addition, we posted various publications, stories, and innumerable social media messages. As a result, we saw a 27% increase in website users, an 83% increase in page views, and a 25% increase in website visits.
Engagement online grew, with over 4,000 new followers on Linkedin, 800 new followers on Twitter, and an exponential growth to the number of subscribers to our global e-newsletter.
We continued to invest in internal communications in 2019. Multiple new internal sites were set up for knowledge sharing and existing sites were updated and improved. We started producing internal webinars around technical topics by experts, for example on how to optimize our internal tools.
Solidaridad’s intranet stands out for being truly democratic. While the Communications team assures overall quality, everyone can contribute and start a site or a community. In 2018, we tallied 23,000 intranet visits. In 2019 this has doubled to 46,000.
This year saw an impressive internal gathering in May for our 50th anniversary. More than 200 staff from all over the world came together for three days to meet, share experiences, define progress needed within the current (2016 - 2020) strategic period, and discuss the way forward for our new strategy. The effect of this event on internal cohesion and collaboration – particularly between different regions – can not be underestimated.
At the anniversary event, Jeroen Douglas took over from Nico Roozen as Solidaridad’s executive director. The Communications team supported him with the production of digital vlogs shared with the whole organization. The vlogs are short and digestible and always relevant to all staff. They have proven to be a very effective way of liaising with staff.
For Solidaridad’s real anniversary in December, we made a special video with ‘cake moments’. Our offices across the world had filmed themselves taking a moment to share some birthday cake: very inspiring and fuelling the energy of the network.