Greenpeace Greenwire; an Open Social showcase

Greenpeace Greenwire is a global online community that connects Greenpeace staff and volunteers. The platform supports their active contribution to the goals Greenpeace seeks in its campaigns. 

On the community platform, members are encouraged to: 

  • Investigate. Members investigate environmental crimes by sharing knowledge, conducting investigations, or starting discussions. 
  • Act. Members are encouraged to organize events and take action to stand up for their beliefs and create solutions. 
  • Connect. Members connect with other members and staff to get all the support needed to fulfill their goals. 
Greenwire community actions

Greenpeace gave Dutch Drupal service provider GoalGorilla the mandate to create an open-course platform for Greenpeace Greenwire 1.0 in 2011. Now, Greenwire 4.0 and over 10 of its hubs will be completely migrated to Open Social (our online community solution owned by GoalGorilla).

This page will tell the story of Greenwire, its success so far, and the history it shares with GoalGorilla and Open Social.


Greenpeace Greenwire is powered by grassroots activism

Arctic Ice, Ice Baby...

Climate change is the biggest environmental threat that humanity has ever faced. One of Greenpeace’s many environmental campaigns is The Act for Arctic to support and spread awareness of the strain on Arctic ecosystems due to rising heat levels.


Save the artic

Act for Artic, or now called 'Save the Artic' encourages people to protect the Arctic from heating up rapidly. 


This campaign is a major success: 5 million citizens from all over the world supported the creation of a global sanctuary in the Arctic and as a result, the International Declaration for the Future of the Arctic was signed. Not too shabby!

For this project, the Greenwire community was used to:

  • Spread community ‘calls’ for participation,
  • Share a community toolkit with tips and tricks 
  • Conduct training on how to encourage influential people to sign the Arctic Declaration.

In the end, the platform allowed hundreds of Greenwire members to support the Arctic campaign. And this is just one of the many stories of Greenwire.


Greenpeace Greenwire; a volunteer community 

What does the community do?

Greenpeace relies on 3 million international supporters to support positive environmental change in the world. 

Greenpeace knew it had to somehow empower their volunteers from the ground-up to be successful. Since, for most social movements, success lies in the strength of the community. 

“Now, all our events go through Greenwire… It’s a real gain of time. Events organized by the volunteers themselves are even better. They rely more on each other and the sense of community grows bigger.” – Arne Robbe, Greenwire Coordinator at Greenpeace Belgium


Especially now when data privacy is being threatened, a community needs a safe online platform to become involved, connect geographically distributed members, and to fill knowledge gaps. This is Greenpeace Greenwire. The platform does the following:

  1. Allow easier sign up to Greenpeace;
  2. Facilitate volunteer data collection;
  3. Actively support volunteer ideas and perspectives;
  4. Establish Greenpeace presence in cities with no staff;
  5. Create community-building opportunities; 
  6. Help staff and fundraising teams connect locally.

Tell me more about the community platform...

Greenpeace Greenwire moved volunteer coordination away from broadcasting instructions to creating a community that embraced individual skill sets, creative ideas, and local knowledge.

The current community platform is built with Open Social, an open-source Drupal distribution. There are over 20 Greenwire community hubs around the world in countries like Germany, Russia, The United Kingdom, United States, and Belgium, and at least half of them will be migrated to Open Social. 

The Greenpeace product owners of the hubs and Open Social’s project managers collaborate to meet the community’s ongoing digital needs. Together, they find the best way for their members to join groups, develop ideas, share news, and host and sign up for events.


This is our (love) story…

Greenwire 1.0 was developed by the Dutch Greenwire office with GoalGorilla in 2011 and quickly expanded after Greenpeace International recognized the platform’s success. 

Greenpeace gave us the following challenging: “We want to create the best open-source social platform ever made by mankind and save the planet. No pressure ;)"


Greenpeace Greenwire 4.0

Greenwire 4.0 using Open Social software and built with Drupal 8.


And the rest, as they say, is history: 

  • In 2011, GoalGorilla was asked to develop the first version of Greenwire 1.0 for The Netherlands.
  • In 2013, Greenwire 2.0 was born using Drupal 7 and rolled out globally.
  • Greenwire 3.0 was successfully created with a re-design and new functionalities in 2015.
  • Greenwire won the Dutch Interactive Award 2015 in the category Social & Communities. 
  • Open Social was launched by GoalGorilla in 2016 after the demand for online communities such as Greenwire increased. 
  • Now, in 2019, Greenwire 4.0 will be migrated completely to Open Social. 


Timeline GG and Greenpeace


Greenwire 4.0; the Ins and Outs

Greenwire 4.0 is the newest version of Greenpeace’s community platform and is built with Open Social, an open-source distribution using Drupal 8 software. It’s a replacement for Greenwire 3.0, built on Drupal 7. 

In total, over 10 national/regional offices (NROs) will migrate to Open Social. Every NRO has the same Open Social codebase and, in some cases, have custom modules that specifically help their local activities. The upside to having one codebase for many platforms is that they can be updated with the press of a button. 

Our 4.0 migration process

  • Listening. We listened to the needs of Greenwire with brainstorm sessions, regular meetings, and discussing customizations.
  • Identifying the gaps. The gaps between the old platform and new platform were identified and any necessary custom modules were built. 
  • Creating the migration script. We created a migration script that would help properly place the data from the old platform into the new one. 
  • Running the migration. After a user acceptance testing period and bug fixing, all data is migrated to Open Social by, you guessed it, a click of a button. 

It’s not easy migrating this many platforms. We had to balance the standardization of all platforms to be able to easily maintain them and update them quickly with the customizations that platforms needed to keep functioning as they used to. We, therefore, had to be strict about what could be customized and what couldn’t. 

We make it a success by constantly communicating with the Greenwire platforms with bi-weekly meetings and every day Slack discussions!

Greenwire 4.0 has flexible groups 

Open Social created new group types for Greenwire 4.0 to match the flexibility of groups in the old platform. The groups provide more control over how the visibility and content of groups.

  1. Flexible groups. This group type allows community members to choose how members can join groups and the content visibility options (public, private, community-only) for the content inside this group.
  2. Secret groups. This group type can only be created by site managers and no one can find the group unless they receive an invite. 


Flexible groups (gif)

...and it has a unique API 

Open Social previously built an API for different Greenwire offices around the world to synchronize their sites and users with Greenwire, enabling them to reach out locally as well as make use of the larger volunteer community. 

Drupal enables content exchange and shared user-membership between the site’s multiple, regional domains. Each domain can also have different, custom user roles if required.


Amazing community results 

Did you know...

✔️ In the first 6 months, Greenwire experienced rapid growth with more than 8,500 users, with an average of 28 users joining daily.

✔️ In 2015, Greenwire was helping volunteers in 13 languages and 16 regions.

✔️ Between 2013 and 2016, Greenpeace Greenwire grew to 30,000 members that organized more than 3000 events. There was a 600% increase in volunteering.  

✔️ Greenpeace Greenwire won the Dutch Interactive Award 2015 in the category Social & Communities.


"Greenwire is increasing Greenpeace's reach and amplifying the power of our volunteers every day. It's a key element of a future in which the lines between online and offline activism are further blurred ..."

Brian Fitzgerald, Greenpeace International Head of Digital Network & Mobilization. 



Greenwire platform statistics
*based on all Greenwire platforms in the period of January 2011 - September 2019. 


We have similar successes with UNDP 

GoalGorilla and the UNDP worked together on building various social and knowledge platforms as:

  • Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation Knowledge Platform
  • Global Knowledge Portal on Youth People’s Participation in Peacebuilding
  • Connecting Business Initiative Global portal
  • Global Knowledge Portal on SDG 16
  • SDG Philanthropy Platform Country Ecosystem
  • South-South Global Thinkers platform
  • Public Dialogues / Global Dev Hub 


“Sending over 50.000 invites to users of various UN legacy platforms was a crucial moment for GlobalDevHub. It was great to see double-figure sign-up rates. Together with Open Social, we made the first consultation period a success. Over 200 comments within the first few days!” - Zach Hongola



Download our UNDP two-pager for more information. 

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