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Alex Perez is the summer 2023 Program Intern at Minnesota Clean Water Action, and is writing blogs chronicling his time working in various program areas. This is his second installment in the series - view his intro and first blog here.

Clean Water often collaborates together with our close partners for the mutual benefit of our organizations. On June 29th, I had the pleasure of attending a spokesperson training put on by our friend Levi Teitel at partner group Progress Michigan with a primary goal being to teach the importance of staying on message in communications. Levi shared not only a plethora of information on how to improve spokesperson skills but also takeaways for fellow nonprofit champions throughout the advocacy world. Learning these useful skills can aid in improving our ability to share the Clean Water Action mission, helping us to advance clean water for all.

A main point continually emphasized throughout the session was how effective communication is an essential part to advancing our mission of protecting the precious resource of water for future generations. By basing a message on core values and using your narrative as guidelines for how to convey the message, advocacy ideas have a much better chance of becoming absorbed and implemented. Without straying from this framework, spokespeople are continually able to spur initiative in their target audience and virtually guarantee action is taken.

Expanding this concept to the program level, being able to stay on topic and make your point concisely is something I have witnessed being utilized during my time working in our Minnesota program areas. For example, while I was working with our ReThink Disposable organizer Chloe we traveled around the Twin Cities to sign up businesses for the program that works to stop waste before it starts and I saw this concept in action.

After stopping in at a small restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, we started by talking to the manager of the business. We came to learn they were very close to becoming completely reusable, with the only disposable section of their dine-in being small plastic condiment cups served with their entrees. The manager was suspect about “too-good-to-be-true” as Chloe pitched the idea of giving him the funds, researching, and delivering the product, but he ended up following up and agreeing to sign on. This was thanks in a large part to Chloe’s ability to pitch the ReThink Disposable program concisely, showing what the benefit for him would be.

The restaurant is now fully reusable and helping to reduce the plastic waste footprint in the food industry!

Many owners or managers we talked to shared these same suspicions but ended up showing interest as they learned they could be more sustainable by making the subsidized switch with the assistance of Clean Water Action. Chloe’s pitch helped to inspire these feelings by incorporating what the values behind the program were, how it shaped the message, and what we wanted the business in question to do to incorporate a more sustainable strategy into the dine-in segment of their business.

Below is Chloe’s pitch, using the framework discussed and broken down to demonstrate how her work is embodied in a quick statement to a business.

Hi, my name is Chloe Kintop and I’m the organizer of ReThink Disposable from the non-profit Clean Water Fund. I’m talking and connecting with businesses today about our restaurant assistance program. We’re helping businesses switch from single use foodware to reusable for dining in, things like plates, cups, cutlery…

Chloe leads with what Clean Water Fund’s message is and why we would like for them to switch from single use to reusable foodware for their dine-in business. minimize single use disposable packaging in food service to conserve resources, prevent waste and ocean litter pollution. If we don’t end the “throw-away” lifestyle now, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050

With the middle section of her pitch, Chloe shows what the values of ReThink Disposable are: conserving resources and prevent waste.

There is no fee to join as we provide the funding for the reusables and anything else you would need to support the mission like dishwashing and shelving. We know you are extremely busy, so we do all the work for you – researching the products, purchasing, and delivering them to your door. All we ask of you is to commit to using the reusable foodware provided to you and share with us some information so we can measure the impact on your business in areas such as costs and waste creation.

And with the final section of her pitch, Chloe brings the points together with the narrative: as the organizer of ReThink Disposable, she will provide the support, research, and funding if they agree to implement and share information for data purposes.   

Chloe’s ReThink Disposable pitch demonstrates an effective example and serves to show any person can use simple information to create a spark in those you are sharing with and help inspire motivation for their actions. In Chloe’s case, she had multiple callbacks and follow-up conversations with businesses she talked to which resulted in many signing up to rethink their disposable tableware use in their restaurant. In contrast, if the pitch was to drag on, with unclear points and laborious ideas, the success rate would have most likely been negatively affected. Working from a solid foundation of values is best for advocates when hoping to inspire action.

By being able to effectively convey a message, a spokesperson can instill action in their target audience. In using the same framework of basing your message on core values to shape a narrative, any person is able to influence a larger community in the same way spokespeople do every day. As a collective of members collaborating to support Clean Water Action, it is often our goal to educate our friends, family, and acquaintances about the importance of being an advocate for clean water. By speaking out in daily life and taking action, we can continue to be impactful members of our community. Thanks to Levi and Progress Michigan, I was able to see how important it is to be able to talk to others and educate effectively concerning issues which we all care about.

None of our work is able to occur in a vacuum without the help and collaboration of others, especially in learning how to become better advocates. We all must support each other to advance our collective causes, and the continued support of organizations such as Progress Michigan is greatly appreciated and goes to show how undertakings such as this spokesperson training are so beneficial.

Did a local business or restaurant come to mind that would be a good fit for our ReThink Disposable program? Click here to nominate a business for the ReThink Disposable program or contact Chloe here.

As a member your donation and support help us to continue our work as effective spokespeople! Click here to support our 2023 Minnesota summer fundraiser.

Interested in your own internship or work experience? Click here to learn more about available jobs and internships at Clean Water Action!




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