My Sustainability Project for Summer 2014 and Beyond

by   |  June 6, 2014

Green Impact Campaign BannerI had been desperately searching for something meaningful to get involved with the summer before I began my MBA studies. I was thrilled when I heard about the Green Impact Campaign, a volunteer project to help small business owners increase awareness and implementation of sustainability.

I received an email from Net Impact that explained what this campaign was, and I immediately got involved. Now I find myself reaching out to small business owners in hopes of lowering their utility bills as well as their carbon footprints.

After completing 14 energy audit surveys, CEO Daniel Hill asked to interview me in hopes to offer helpful advice and inspiration to other volunteers. You can read that article here.

My goal was to survey as many businesses as possible–at least 10, but ideally 20. This was challenging because I was in the process of moving from Utah to Virginia. At the time I was scrambling to get my furniture sold, get my properties taken care of, transition my online business into a stable / low-maintenance state for school, and meet the deadlines of my admitted student checklist for UVA Darden.

Thought I: No matter! I’m a busy mother of twin boys. I’ve had worse.
Green Impact Campaign Logo
I gave myself a June 20th deadline for the purposes of being entered into a Net Impact drawing for VIP passes to the conference in Minneapolis this fall, which I was dying to attend. I liked what the Green Impact Campaign is trying to accomplish, and knew I would continue working with CEO Daniel Hill after the June 20th deadline had passed.

One of the challenges of marketing this campaign to business owners in Utah was that on the whole, they didn’t care as much about the environment as business owners in some other states do. As such, I had chosen to emphasize the potential of saving money more than the impact of saving the environment to Utah business owners.

While my campaign did gained some traction with that strategy, I soon realized that many business owners thought I was selling something.   I decided to switch from the “I’m here to help you save money” tactic to one of, “I’m a student and I need to get this done for an assignment.”   To my surprise, that was a much more successful approach with small business owners.

The general reaction of new acquaintances I had reached out to was that they loved my video. I must say, I am proud of it because I know nothing about animation and it was my very first complete DIY animation project.   The click-and-drop action I did for my animated My Dream Teacher video bumper was the first exposure of any sort, and I quickly learned how intimidating real animation work is.

As I have heard other volunteers confess, the most effective way of getting business owners to commit to my campaign is by direct contact. I have sent out many emails that remain unanswered. I have sent Facebook private messages that have been ignored. Calling and texting have yielded pretty good results, but the in-person contact has been the most effective method so far. This should be surprising to no one.

The Net Impact website is pretty awesome.  Net Impact Logo I signed up for the free membership this summer, and I’m so glad because I would have missed out on the Green Impact Campaign if I hadn’t.   I’m so grateful I got a chance to do something cool through Net Impact before my MBA program even began.

I’m excited about the chance I had to make a positive difference this summer. I ended up surveying 14 businesses before the June 20th deadline. I’m currently working with UVA Darden’s Net Impact club to train future energy audit volunteers in the Charlottesville area.

More on: Business, Changing the World, Marketing, MBA
About the Author:

Mimi West is a consummate entrepreneur, brand and marketing expert. This retired opera singer and Founder of My Dream Teacher is now pursuing her MBA at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Administration. You can follower her on Twitter: @MimiGuynnWest.
Publshed: June 6, 2014  | 
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