A recent post profiled some ways that innovative crowdsourcing projects are contributing to environmental efforts. They are far from being the only ways to get involved. While those endeavors had the backing of large organizations, there are plenty of ways for small businesses to creatively connect for a cause. EcoApprentice provides one option. The new site is an online community designed to connect students, nonprofits and businesses. Organizations looking for help solving sustainability-oriented issues can engage students in environmentally oriented challenges. So far, the new site has not generated a large volume of responses so contributors have a great chance of success. Most often the reward for a winner is intrinsic satisfaction and a resume line item. But some offer a token gift from the sponsors such as a free tote bag or a free night stay at a Bed and Breakfast.
A completely different approach was taken by a restaurant in the Northwest U.S., profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine. The 70-year-old building which housed the Treehouse Cafe was in need of new lighting but the owners didn’t have the needed $3,000 needed. So they engaged customers to help fund the upgrade to more energy efficient lighting which would save the small business $1,800 in electricity costs annually. Not only did this old fashioned “crowdfunding” project raise the needed money, it also provided some positive press about the restaurants “green” initiative. The project was supported by the Foundation for Responsible Technology, a nonprofit dedicated to educating businesses and homeowners on energy technology and efficiency. FFRT works with businesses to design innovative ways to improve the financial risk reward balance of green technology development through the tax benefits of charitable giving.