Reflections from a Do Nation Ambassador

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Thanks to Heather Mack, 12 Doers came together last weekend for a muddy, sweaty, laughter-filled race, raising support in the form of 243 pledges and saving as much carbon as 66 flights from Bristol to Belfast.

Heather took on the volunteer role of Do Nation Ambassador, encouraging others to lead the change through Do Nation, inspiring their friends to try out new, healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Here she shares her motivations and lessons for any other budding Do Nation Ambassadors out there.

Following my successful (Doer of the Month) campaign for my cycle ride to Paris for COP21, I cajoled a friend into creating a diet related, New Year’s Resolution campaign with me.  With two successful campaigns and 65 pledges under my belt (all in one year!), I was in search of the next thing to do to step up my support for Do Nation.  

As I’m currently freelancing getting my place of work to sign up wasn’t an option. Hermione suggested I organise a Do Nation team for a challenge event, encouraging others to create their own campaigns just like I had done for the cycle to Paris, thereby spreading the impact far wider.

Here’s how I went about it.

1. Choosing the event:

I was looking for an event that was genuinely fun and appealing; challenging enough to be worthy of supporting, but not too difficult so that any fitness level could take part; and reasonably priced. The Devil Mud Run was the answer.

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Some key factors to bear in mind when choosing a challenge event:

Location: focus on somewhere local so that you can tap into your own network, making it easy for them to take part.

Date: I left two months to promote and organise the run, but actually longer would have been better. You really do have to ask people, ask them again, then a third and fourth time! And many want at least a couple of months to train for it too.

Price: not more than £50, and try to negotiate a discount with the event (I got 10% off).

Ethos: in keeping with Do Nation, e.g. not requiring a flight to another country, or a motor racing! Ideally one that takes sustainability seriously too, but sadly they can be hard to find.

2. Getting people to sign up:

The most important bit is promoting the event. I thought I had a lot of ideas for this – I posted on all sorts of related Facebook pages, from Young Greens, to vegan running, to cyclist groups; I contacted businesses from environmental consultancies to major renewable energy providers, hoping to get their employees along; we promoted on Do Nation’s blog and to Do Nation’s network.

I can safely say that promoting the run was harder than I expected. All but three of the sign-ups were through friends. Given more time I would recommend following up every email to a company with a phone call, every post on social media with a talk at an event, but that’s not always possible.

The key seemed to be persistence, every time someone sounded interested it took another couple of conversations to get them to sign up (although in the end, they all loved it!).

3. Getting pledges rolling in:

Now you’ve got your team, make the most of it by creating competition on the leaderboard. The Devil Mud Run was a success because of a small number of really active campaigns, raising loads of pledges. This got the competitive spirit fired up, competing against each other for top spot.

At this point you’ve got to get the right balance of encouraging emails vs email overload. People were very honest about how few of the emails they actually read – so keep them snappy.

4. On the day:

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Simple: make sure everyone has fun. Set a meeting place before the event and try to introduce everyone so that they feel part of a team.  We had been given Do Nation t-shirts which really helped to build that team identity.

We also secured some goodies from Pukka Herbs, and had a team picnic at the end of the race.

The most surprising thing for me was that I actually enjoyed the run! I picked a mud run because I thought it would be popular, not because I wanted to do it, my training was a grand total of one 1.5 mile, slightly tipsy, run home. I managed to persuade 12 other people that it would be great fun, never believing it myself.

Maybe on the day it had something to do with the team spirit, but I LOVED it, would strongly recommend!

Would you like to be a Do Nation Ambassador? If so, please drop us a line.

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