Planning Phase (2-4 months, or more)
Recruit a Volunteer Team
Decide whether to partner with neighboring towns
Reasons to partner with neighboring towns:
- When several small towns work together, the result is a larger target population (and more weatherized homes!)
- Partnering with other towns often makes it easier to recruit a larger volunteer team
- Contractors and rebate programs may be more willing to partner with a group of towns, rather than each town individually
Who should you partner with?
- Towns that share common resources (e.g. grocery store, school district, roads)
- Towns that feel like they are part of your broader region/community
Reasons NOT to partner with neighboring towns
- You can’t find any volunteers who live or work in that town and can help with outreach in that town
- Your town (or city) is already quite large and you worry that partnering with other towns might create a campaign that is too big for your partner contractors to handle
- Your town and the other town(s) do not see themselves as part of the same region or broader community
Consider your kickoff event! Ideally, you will only host ONE kickoff event for your entire campaign team. Can you think of a public gathering space where residents from ANY/ALL of your partner towns would be willing to come out and attend a kickoff event?
Recruit a Volunteer Team
- Gather a team of 4-8 people, plus a list of others you could call on to help with specific tasks (e.g. painting a sign, baking for an event).
- Refer to these Common Weatherize Campaign Volunteer Roles and Tasks to give a sense of what you’re in for.
- Host a meeting for all potential volunteers (including anyone who is on the fence) to talk about the campaign and get everyone on the same page before you officially commit and become a team.
Assign team roles and get organized
- Set up a regular team meeting schedule (meetings can be in person and/or via conference call).
- Create a team contact list.
- Consider setting up a shared Google folder to store team documents (e.g. contact lists, outreach material, meeting notes)
- Divvy up volunteer roles using these Common Weatherize Campaign Volunteer Roles and Tasks as a guide. REMEMBER:
- One person can serve multiple team roles
- Consider splitting into sub-teams during the planning phase (e.g. event planning, website and resources, connecting with partners)
- Your team doesn’t have to do EVERYTHING on this list – decide what makes sense for your unique campaign
- Assign specific roles and deadlines for who will do what (and when) during your planning phase.
- Spread out the work (and the responsibility) among many people rather than allowing one or two people to carry more than their share.
Connect with Partners and Resources
Connect with rebate program staff
Find out which organization(s) provide rebates for home weatherization programs in your region (examples listed below), then track down an actual staff person within that program. If you have trouble finding the right person to talk to, feel free to contact Vital Communities for help (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What to ask when you reach out:
- How many homes were weatherized in my town(s) last year?
- Are there any upcoming changes to the rebate program that might affect our campaign?
- Would you be willing to present at a weatherize campaign kickoff event?
- Who should be our team’s contact person within your rebate program?
Seek out partner contractors
Make a list of qualified contractors who serve your region
- Ask your rebate program contact for a list of qualified contractors in your area. Some programs (including Efficiency Vermont) have a searchable online database of contractors.
- Ask your rebate program contact what minimum qualifications their rebate program requires of weatherization contractors (often Building Performance Institute certification plus some additional training and quality assurance through the rebate program). Consider adopting those standards for your own campaign, to keep things easy.
Contact each contractor and invite them to participate
- Send an email describing your campaign and what kind of partnership you are looking for. Feel free to borrow language from this sample email: (PDF file) (word doc).
- Follow up with a phone call, contractors are notoriously bad at responding to email.
- Call back after a few days if you don’t hear anything. Contractors may not take you seriously at first, so it helps to keep trying until you get a real person on the phone.
Create a contact list of partner contractors to share with the public
- Sample contact list: (PDF file) (word doc)
Find local partners who can help with outreach
- Someone at the local school who could hang a poster or send handouts home with students
- Groups with regular meetings who would let you come speak at an upcoming meeting (e.g. Rotary, Lyons, churches, selectboard)
- Town staff who could post about your campaign in town newsletters
- Groups with newsletters who would let you submit an announcement about Weatherize
- Librarians who would let you set up an educational display at the library
- Hardware stores who would set up a display of weatherization supplies and pass out information about your campaign
- And so on …
Be sure to track WHO your contacts are and WHAT they have committed to do to help. Then assign a volunteer to follow up and make it happen!
Identify several "Home Energy Champions"
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Collect info about available rebates, financing, and incentives
Ask your rebate program contact for information about relevant state, local, and even federal programs.
Ask your partner contractors to look at your list of programs and tell you if you are missing anything they have seen their customers make use of.
Sample material for sharing with participants:
- List of financing options and tips (PDF file) (word doc)
- NHSaves rebate guide (PDF file) (word doc) – Creating a rebate guide may be a good option if you are concerned that your local rebate program may be difficult to understand/navigate)
Seek funds/donations from local sponsors
It should be possible to launch a Weatherize campaign with little or no money.
That said, it may be helpful to seek donations for:
- Paid advertising to promote your kickoff event
- Food for your kickoff event (though many teams simply have volunteers bring basic finger food from home)
- Room rental fees, if you can’t find event or meeting space for free
- Prizes (e.g. cash toward a weatherization project, a gift card or item from a local business, an energy efficiency themed prize like a smart thermostat)
- Printing (e.g. paper handouts and posters, vinyl banners, yard signs, etc)
If necessary, ask a local nonprofit (or the town) to serve as your “fiscal sponsor,” accepting money on your behalf and reimbursing you for campaign expenses.
Create an Outreach Plan
Make a Plan
Create a detailed outreach plan BEFORE you begin the “Outreach” phase of your campaign – the more you plan activities and delegate responsibility among your volunteers ahead of time, the better. Explore the “Outreach Phase” section below for ideas.
- Sample outreach plan template
Choose dates and prizes for each campaign deadline
Don’t have to do the second deadline
Ideas for prizes
How to choose dates
Schedule and plan your kickoff event
Date. time location, speakers, agenda
Outreach Phase (3-5 months)
Kick Off Event
- Sample event plan and agenda from past Weatherize kick off events
- Attendance stats from past Weatherize kick off events
- Sample event plan for a VIRTUAL kick-off event
Make your kick-off event the focus of your effort and outreach. It may also be helpful to have one or two additional events on the calendar for folks who miss the kick-off or desire more information. Three common examples:
- Open House – Someone who has already weatherized their home allows neighbors to drop by within a particular time window to learn about their experience and see any visible energy improvements. Consider having multiple open houses at the same day/time.
- Drop-In/Office Hours – Volunteers are available at the local library to answer questions, help with program applications, etc.
- Neighborhood Weatherization Q&A – Invite 3 or 4 residents who have already weatherized their homes to some speak on a panel and answer questions from attendees about their experience.
These events typically do not draw a lot of people, so don’t spend too much time planning them. Open houses and drop-in hours are particularly easy to organize and residents often appreciate the the chance to “drop by” rather than commit to a full event.
Tabling at community locations / events
Where to table: Where are you likely to find a critical mass of your neighbors?
- Dump or transfer station
- School sports games
- Town meeting/voting days
- Grocery store, general store, hardware store
- Post office
- Community events (performances, talks, farmers markets)
What to bring:
- Sign up sheet to collect contact information from interested neighbors – you can email them with next steps when you get home
- A Friend – tabling is easier and more fun with at least two volunteers working together to strike up conversation with passers by
- Permission – be sure to check with the property owner / event organizer before showing up
Posters, banners, signs
Post Campaign (2-6 months)
Gather a volunteer team
- Review volunteer roles to see what you’re signing up for
- Gather a team of 4-8 people, plus a list of others you could call on to help with specific tasks (e.g. painting a sign, baking for an event)