Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global nonprofit that exists to support farmer livelihoods through the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. The team works with 2.3 million cotton farmers to encourage more sustainable production and trains them on social issues, such as gender equality and the importance of children’s education. On the other end of the supply chain, BCI works with more than 400 individual brands to drive demand for more sustainable cotton. They help global fashion and textile brands such as H&M, IKEA, Levi’s and Nike to adopt a more sustainable way to source cotton.
Morgan Ferrar, communications coordinator on the global communications team, manages the nonprofit’s storytelling efforts. She has traveled to Mozambique, Turkey and India to gather content and interview farmers and others at the heart of cotton communities who are benefiting from learning about sustainable practices. Her team uses these stories to make the BCI mission easy to understand for non-specialists.
In late 2018, the Better Cotton Initiative global communications team launched the ‘Stories from the Field’ program, an initiative to show the impact BCI has on cotton farmers, centering on their perspectives and experiences, and their families and communities.
The team collected images to supplement this new, valuable content. With their old digital storage system, accessing these images restricted smooth workflows.
Before Canto, the team stored digital assets in Dropbox and personal computers, making it difficult to edit and share images. Morgan started having issues with her computer’s storage and knew it was time to search for a more sustainable solution.
“It got to the point where I was having big problems with the memory on my computer and was constantly running around trying to sync different Dropbox photos. I was then having to open these images in Photoshop just to resize them. I thought there had to be a simpler way for me to manage my work,” says Morgan.
Morgan researched solutions and came across digital asset management (DAM). She evaluated four DAM systems, then recommended Canto to the senior communications manager, who in turn presented Canto to the executive group. BCI ultimately chose Canto because it struck the perfect balance between functionality and price.
“I quickly was drawn to Canto because of the simplicity of its interface. It’s very user-friendly and straightforward. I immediately saw the benefits in terms of time saving and price,” says Morgan.
BCI now stores all images from the field, in their Canto library. The communications team uses these images for the website, social media, campaigns, blog posts, and reporting, while the wider organization uses them mostly for PowerPoint presentations and documents.
The team organized their Canto library in a folder structure based on individual Stories from the Field. All content falls under a story and is added to the corresponding folder.
“We have the folder structure but we also tag photos based on the seven principles, such as soil health and biodiversity. Maybe someone within the organization is doing a project about gender equality or personal protective equipment – staff who are coming to Canto can put those kinds of search terms in and find topical images,” says Morgan.
Morgan has appreciated the customer support that Canto has provided throughout the on-boarding and implementation process.
“We have a wonderful customer success manager – he was patient with me when I was learning about Canto and did a great job with showing me its features for our specific needs,” says Morgan.
Portals for internal colleagues and external partners
Morgan and her team utilize Canto Portals to share content with the whole organization, decreasing asset requests. Portals enable internal colleagues to easily download images for presentations – which helps partners, supporters and members further understand BCI’s mission.
The communications team is preparing to launch an external Portal specifically for BCI Retailer and Brand Members called ‘Stories from the Field Hub’. This will be a place where brand members can access content that highlights their commitment to sourcing more sustainable cotton.
“When retailers and brand members want to communicate about their partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative, they can come to the Portal and download what they need – perhaps an image of a farmer and a quote to then create their own marketing or social media campaign,” says Morgan.
Image editing made easy
Annual reports show directors, funding partners, supporters and retail members what the Better Cotton Initiative has achieved over the last year. Recently, Morgan gathered a set of images to edit for the annual report microsite. Using Canto’s Photoshop integration, it was easy for her to edit the images all in one system.
“All of the images for the microsite have to be a specific pixel dimension. Last year, before we had Canto, I remember having to find the images, open each one in Photoshop, edit and then re-save them. After that, there were duplicated files that made Dropbox even bigger and more cumbersome.”
“Now I can do all the editing within Canto and not have six different versions. It’s just so much easier and saves me so much time,” says Morgan.
The Better Cotton Initiative has an important role in making cotton production better for the people who produce it, the environment it grows in and the sector’s figure. Instead of digging through images, the global communications team now focuses on building their content library to help stakeholders understand the mission of BCI.
“We’re a multi-stakeholder sustainability standard, so it can be complicated. We have technical facets of our organization that need to be told in an accurate way, but we need non-specialists to understand the BCI story and to support our organization,” says Morgan.
Canto has empowered the communications team to share inspiring BCI stories by making visual assets accessible for the whole organization and external partners.
“We have an array of great images that the communications team uses frequently, but we want other people to use them as well,” says Morgan.
“Canto helps the communications team showcase our work.”