The Alabama Environmental Council (AEC) is the state's oldest environmental organization, established in 1967 as the Alabama Conservancy. The AEC has gone through many incarnations over the organization's 40+ year history, but has generally served as a central clearing house for all things environmental and spurred dozens of other, more issue-specific, regional and local organizations. Arguably, the organization's most significant contribution has been the establishment and operation of a Recycling Center in downtown Birmingham which has served the Birmingham metro area as the only comprehensive dropoff center in the vicinity.
The website was originally created using a home-spun CMS, written by a patron of the organization (who, incidentally has since abandoned that project and runs a Drupal shop in D.C.). The AEC site was eventually converted to Drupal in order to harness the flexibility of the API as well as the power of its community and the resulting abundance of features made available through contributed modules.
While the general layout was preserved using a Zen sub-theme, the site overhaul included a new color scheme, banner, logo and, most importantly, a shiny new Drupal CMS under the hood. Among the goals of the conversion to Drupal were increased donations/memberships, social networking improvements, sign-up capabilities for events and workshops, increased general usability of the site, particularly for staff and a new 'recycling dropoff locator' feature.
Donations and membership
Among the most important upgrades to the site were adding the ability for integrating donations and memberships. Using Ubercart and many great contributed UC add-on modules, we were able to offer multiple options for making online contributions to the organization. The Variable Price (uc_varprice) module allows donors to give a varying donation amount and a patch from the issue queue made an arbitrary "other" donation amount available too. The uc_role module automatically assigns the role of donor and/or member based on a donation made or membership purchased. The uc_recurring module sets donations to be on a monthly basis if the visitor wants, and memberships to be automatically renewed every year. Almost none of our Ubercart "products" were physical items, so the uc_product_power_tools module allowed us to not burden the staff with all the extra fields for shippable products. Finally, the uc_coupon module is used occasionally to offer promotional items to members or discounts on renewed memberships to lapsed members. Ubercart also offered the benefit to members of being able to easily track their online donations for tax purposes.
Some other important upgrades by using Drupal for our site were in the social networking domain. We were finally able to have the AEC blog (previously using Google's Blogger service) seamlessly integrated into the main site. We also added several social networking improvements using the twitter module. Some content types can be "tweeted" to our Twitter account, then the Twitter app on Facebook takes the tweets and post them on our Facebook page. This created a seamless process where the staff can post new content and it is instantly available on 1.) the site, 2.) Twitter and 3.) Facebook, in seconds. Not only does this process post the content to the big social networks, but it drives the traffic to the website instead of just to our social network pages. Additional components like the AddThis module also allow our content to be shared via Twitter, Facebook, emailed or printed.
Event and volunteer management
As a volunteer and outreach organization, it was also a huge benefit to be able able to implement the signup module for free events like workshops and presentations and uc_signup for paid events. We can easily set up an event for sign-up and also have volunteers sign up to help run the event if needed. This makes it much easier to track participation in events and increase online purchase of tickets for our annual Green Tie Affair. We could then easily get feedback from participants in all of the above via Webforms and store the data and display it any way we needed to. This also made it simple to communicate any changes for the events to the participants and target them in the future with other related announcements.
One final feature to highlight was the Recycling Center's "stoplight". This is used to update potential visitors to the AEC Recycling Center that certain materials can not be dropped off (full containers, hauler pickup scheduling). In the previous site, the webmaster would have to periodically update an html table, but doing this in Drupal was easy! This feature was recreated using a simple content type of "Recyclable Material" which has a "recycling center status field" and a view that displays the materials according to that status. All the recycling center staff have to do is log in, change the status of the material and voilà! The table is updated accordingly.
Recycling Dropoff Locator
We are also currently working on a new feature which will provide a comprehensive, centralized location for looking up recycling dropoff locations throughout Alabama. The visitor will be presented with the option of a map or list view, exposed filters for what material they need to recycle, enter their zip code and be shown all the known locations accepting that material for recycling. We are excited about the service this feature will provide to current recyclers and possibly encourage future recyclers if they can easily find somewhere to take their materials. Users will also be able to be able to browse by material and see a listing of all dropoff locations accepting that material, thanks to views_attach. Registered users who have provided their address will automatically be filtered to the locations nearest them, saving time searching for this information.
The move to Drupal made maintaining and promoting our site, and environmental efforts in the deep south in general, easier than ever before! Adding Ubercart functionality to our site gave us a marked increase in online donations, new members and recurring contributions. Sign-up capabilities for events and simple implementations of views have saved our staff literally hours of work tracking participants and volunteers. Taking advantage of social networking add-ons and core blog functionality has given a new level of visibility to the organization.