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Going green in Toronto with these community apps

Toronto is growing to be an environmental city with greener buildings, more emphasis on city cycling, and vegan restaurants popping up everywhere.

Alongside the new green trends sweeping across the urban landscape, apps that focus on sustainability and green initiatives are gaining in popularity as well. From biking apps to basic trading, there are many different ways to engage with your digital environmentalist side. Women’s Post has compiled a short list of interesting and revolutionary apps below:

BIKO

BIKO is a new cycling rewards app that recently launched in Toronto after having success in Bogota Columbia, Mexico City, Vancouver. For every kilometre cycled, the app will give one ‘biko’ point. Potential prizes you can receive with these ‘biko’ points include free coffees, beer, helmets, cycling parts, and discounts at partnering restaurants. The rewards are relatively easy to obtain, especially if you are a commuter cyclist, as exemplified by a free Jimmy’s coffee that costs 10 Biko points. The app also offers cycling maps across the city and you can record your cycling routes to share with other friends who use the app.

My City Bikes Toronto

This cycling app is useful for beginner cyclists and offers several links to cycling maps in Toronto, biking rules, and bike stores where equipment is offered. It also offers cycling paths specific for families, road and commuter paths, and safe paths for women to travel on at night.

Bunz

Bunz is a community sharing app where you can trade an item in exchange for another. The app is extensive and offers trades for items, a chat link to let people know about events in the city, job offers, and helping people with volunteer opportunities. It is a great way to connect into Toronto’s urban community and to find anything you need without an expensive price tag attached.

Live Green Toronto App

Live Green Toronto is an app that uses an interactive map to help people living in the city find green businesses easily, while updating to find the best ‘green deals’ available. Live Green also pledges to plant a tree every time 20 deals are claimed, which is a positive initiative towards living green in the city. It also provides green business owners with a way to reach more customers through the app.

Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide

The Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide is a fantastic fit for nature lovers who want to teach themselves and their families about the various types of plants and trees in Ontario. It provides information on how various plants and trees grow in each season, and whether they are edible or not. A few of the plants including burdoch, willow, yarrow, and birch. It offers pictures of the plant and where to spot it as well. Definitely a cool app for people who love looking for plants and trees in the forest.

There are many sustainable apps and these are a few options that are specifically being used in the Toronto area. Whether it be cycling, re-using items, or hiking in the forest, trying to engage in as many environmental activities when living in a large city is essential to keeping the world clean!

Which are your favourite green apps in Toronto? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

How to expand your email campaigns and event planning

Never underestimate the power of communication.

At an intimate learning workshop series at the Centre for Social Innovation, communications professionals from various non-profits, including Sierra Club of Canada, Community Environmental Alliance and Scouts Canada, gathered to learn from the best. The workshop, “Supercharging Your Purpose”, offered important tips on how to gain support and donations to succeed in the world of non-profits. The workshop was run by Second Revolution Communications, a communications company that leads workshops in conjunction with the Sustainability Network, a non-profit that provides learning networks to non-profits across Canada. The workshops run about three times per year.

Over the course of two days, non-profits were invited to learn about strategic planning, designing a better brand, event planning, and email campaigns from speakers Brad Pearson, Creative Director of Second Revolution Communications, and Keith Treffry, Director of Strategy at Second Revolution Communications. Both speakers come from an extensive background in the environmental non-profit sector. Previously Treffry was the Director of Communications for Earth Day Canada, a non-profit that has been around for over 25 years. Pearson is a graphic designer by trade, and previously worked for Greenpeace.

Women’s Post had the opportunity to attend the event planning and email campaigns workshops and left with valuable takeaways on how to plan for success in the world of non-profit.

Event Planning

“The biggest challenge in event planning is creating a unique event that will resonate strongly with your supporters,” Treffry says. “There are so many variables in events, you could have the best event semantically, but screw up by charging too much for tickets. Create a unique niche and separate yourself from your competition.”

When planning an event, begin by creating a steering committee. Researching finances, potential partnerships for the event, timing, competition, and venues is critical to a successful event. It can be dangerous to jump the gun and start planning before all these details are considered. The second step is to define the budget and consider important things like food, speakers, A/V, marketing and insurance. Don’t forget to developing a theme and brand for the event that can be used on social media.

Only after all of those factors are taken into consideration can you choose the venue. Make sure to ask about indoor/outdoor, A/V capacity, food and beverage options (if you are using their catering), size, and location. From there, implement your communications plan, which includes event materials, an Eventbrite or other ticketing system, a website, and signage for the event. Be sure to focus on getting speakers, deciding on catering or food options, and venue décor.

On the day of event, be sure to have a run sheet that lays out A/V needs for speakers or panelists along with any required images needed throughout the event. Don’t forget to make sure your sponsors are front and centre. Pearson recommends to obtain presentations from speakers in advance, noting that it can be difficult, but will make the event much smoother.

Both speakers focus on different aspects of the most integral elements on the day of the event:

Treffry: “Execution of the event is essential. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and knows what to do and when. Make sure they stick to the script.“

Pearson: “I focus more on A/V aspects of the event. At larger events, I’ll be in the sound booth coordinating with the presentations. My background is in design, but I’ve enough multimedia experience to be reasonably efficient. You learn how to wear multiple hats.”

Finally, after the event is complete, don’t forget to debrief with the team. Engaging with the people who contributed to running the event will make future events even more successful. Communication is key!

Email Campaigns

Emailing campaigns continue to be an important part of communications and marketing for non-profits. Though various social media outlets can appear to be more effective, emails are still an essential form of engagement for online communication. Pearson says that people have three times as many emails as other social media accounts and 56 per cent of people check their email first when they wake up and last before they go to bed, more so than other social media networks.

When building a subscriber list for emails, provide a banner and button on the website that will engage people to click on it. Providing click-bait such as a fun phrase or compelling image will draw people to subscribe. When asking for information, keep it simple as well. Simply ask for an email and provide an option for people to give additional information such as gender or city to build a better idea of the demographics your website is reaching.

Be sure to test different times, various subject headers, and different images in email campaigns to gauge success with your audience. Try using videos as well. Using video or other multimedia storytelling will raise email engagement by about 35 per cent. Be sure to focus on who you are audience is. Pearson pointed out that 80 per cent of people who have stopped opening emails feel it has become irrelevant. Engaging an interested audience is imperative to the success of an email campaign.

There are key challenges that remain to email campaigning, but there are solutions. “It is a difficult process. You can’t buy lists anymore because you need explicit consent,” Pearson says. “It isn’t so much about the size of your list as compared to the quality of your engagement. Make sure not to miss an opportunity. Testing different variables is also important and improves engagement rates. It is about long-strategy vs. short-term panic.”

Communications is key to creating relationships with supporters when working in the non-profit sector. Using events to network and engage with people will help create lasting partnerships and loyalty. Likewise, email campaigning can foster an online relationship that could further the success of a given cause. Most importantly, focus on the purpose for your non-profit and you won’t lose your way.