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EARTHDAY.ORG reaches 100 million supporters on Earth Day’s 50th anniversary

Amid the pandemic, EDO adapted their in-person event plan in record time to create ‘Earth Day Live,’ a live 12-hour digital event.


  • 100M
  • people reached
  • 1,681
  • registered digital events worldwide
  • 12
  • hours

2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the largest civic event in the world. To celebrate the milestone, EDO had planned or supported thousands of in-person events across the globe. But when the pandemic hit earlier this year, everything changed. In-person events disappeared from agendas, quickly replaced by digital alternatives. For the team at EDO, this shift brought on a race against time to keep the momentum around climate change alive by transforming their initial plans for April 22nd into “Earth Day Live,” a twelve-hour livestream digital event.

Halsey Payne, EDO’s Volunteer Coordinator at the time, found himself in the middle of this shift. He’d joined the team six months out from Earth Day, bringing a background in environmental studies and campaign work with a focus on data management. Early on after joining the team, Payne noticed some discrepancies in the way the team’s data was being managed by each department and that it lived in many disparate places. It was clear they were in need of a CRM upgrade, and he knew just where to go. 

Payne knew that NationBuilder was a powerful and reliable platform, so he jumped into implementation with total confidence in the system. Once all the data was in one place, the next step would be getting his team on board. With help from Dana Landers, a NationBuilder Enterprise Account Manager, the team quickly learned how powerful the platform was for seamless collaboration and data sharing within the organization.

And all this work happened in the nick of time––luckily, Earth Day Network was a digital-first organization, equipped to quickly adapt to any last-minute changes without too many roadblocks. Their first course of action was reaching out to their original event hosts to ask if they were still interested in recognizing Earth Day online and providing them with resources to stay involved in the new plans. 

On this, Payne says: “[Because of COVID-19] all of our programs had to pivot, but NationBuilder had to pivot the least. It was the easiest service to support an all-digital event because all the forms and infrastructure were built; everything was running smoothly. It was a huge time saver. If we hadn't had a CRM and data platform like NationBuilder to support us, it would have been a much harder few months.”

  • Built-in action pages

  • Organizations use NationBuilder to create effective petitions, event pages, and more in minuteswith no coding required. 

And that’s all they had––a few months. But when Earth Day Live arrived, it was an absolute success. The livestream featured countless inspirational speakers, youth climate activists, and environmental leaders broadcasting uninterrupted for a full twelve hours. In addition to the events unfolding on the livestream, the buzz was palpable on social media and in other online spaces. One notable Earth Day campaign in Sub-Saharan Africa had their Twitter page filled from top to bottom with incredible support from activists and leaders in the space driving the online conversation.

With all the incoming support, the custom NationBuilder sign-up pages the team had set up on Earth Day’s site were crucial to driving visitors to take action. And with forms embedded on both desktop and via mobile app, the process was both seamless and interactive.

In the meantime, Payne was also helping manage map systems and websites, while other team members kept an eye on the various social platforms. Altogether, the livestream and accompanying digital activations reached 100 million people worldwide.

Now, the team is looking ahead to their plans for Earth Day 2021, the theme for which is ‘Restore our Earth.’

“We've learned so much about respecting science and caring about our planet during this pandemic…We have to learn a lesson from this. We can't just ‘get back to normal’—we have to get better. So restoring our earth is a natural next step because there are more crises coming and we need to prepare for them,” says Payne.

While the future might be unclear, EDO’s incredible success in planning and pulling off the first fully-digital Earth Day provides much-needed hope and proves that anything is possible when you combine passion for a cause, community, and the right digital tools.

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