The Right Stuff: Chapter of the Year Winners Explain What It Takes

By: Samantha Johnston | October 12, 2012

The Net Impact chapter community is definitely booming. Today we welcome more than 300 chapters to our global network, each making a huge difference every day on campuses and in communities. Leading a chapter isn't easy juggling work, school, management, planning, and - oh yeah - a life. But once a year, Net Impact honors those chapters that stand out among the rest, and names them Chapter of the Year.

We're thrilled to present this year's winners: Net Impact Texas State Undergrad, McCoy College of Business; Net Impact Duke University, Fuqua School of Business; and Net Impact San Francisco. Looking at the tangible impacts they've made within their communities, we're reminded why we're all a part of this Net Impact community together.

Net Impact Texas State Undergrad: Big impact in one of the biggest states

There's nothing like youth perspective to shake things up, and undergraduates at Net Impact Texas State Undergrad tackled it all this past year. According to chapter leader Ani Aroian, the chapter has a constant equilibrium between passionate, diverse students and finding a universal purpose through different projects.

Those varied interests have produced a year of on-the-ground accomplishments. [We're] the state's only student organization to perform sustainability audits for local businesses, says Aroian, which came in handy when the State of Texas mandated all public universities cut energy consumption by 50% by 2020. In between tests and hanging out with friends, Net Impact members audited roughly five buildings a week last year. Their data and recommendations will be incorporated into a report to the state legislature when they convene in January 2013.

That's not all - the Bobcats demonstrated their commitment to diversity through other projects, including a program with at-risk youth, and a local river protection initiative. What'll they tackle next? We can't wait to find out.

Net Impact Duke Fuqua: Marching to a different drum

The strength of Fuqua's Net Impact chapter was a huge reason we-and a lot of our classmates-chose to come to Duke, says chapter co-leader Abigail Lundy. With over 500 members on campus, Net Impact Fuqua is now the largest student-run club on campus.

That demand has led to some impressive events, including a 40-speaker conference this year centered on disrupting the status quo. Fuqua's emphasis on unconventional solutions to social and environmental challenges is clearly reflected in its work. Last year, the chapter threw Stache Bash, a mustache-growing fundraiser to support students who choose to do nonprofit internships during the summer. Eighty-five students, many of whom had never come to a Net Impact event before, grew mustaches, said co-leader Elana Boehm, and raised over $23,000, a 50% increase in donations from the year before.

According to Lundy and Boehm, the chapter will continue to focus on increasing reach and inclusivity going forward. Making a difference is less about the job and more about how we approach our work, and build a strong network to help each and every one of us make a difference.

Net Impact San Francisco: Making impact a do-ocracy

For Net Impact San Francisco, 2012 was all about building on its strengths. San Francisco is a unique community with a rarified sense of passion and drive to make an impact, says chapter leader Christine Jacobs. This sentiment is seen in the organization's own non-hierarchical leadership structure - the do-ocracy, where every member has the opportunity to lead.

For San Francisco members, the year has also been about bringing people together. According to chapter leader Adam Menter, Being a part of the leadership team means a deeper connection with the folks working to make it all happen. The chapter proudly hosted its third annual GreenerMind summit, an unconference designed to encourage groundbreaking conversations where sustainable ideas and projects can come to life.

Professional chapters may not have a campus-based pool of members to draw on, so the most effective chapters - like San Francisco -- have gotten flexible and creative when it comes to involving busy working folks. San Francisco, which allows members to contribute as much or as little as feels right, has definitely struck that magic balance, and its work this past year is a true testament to their unique approach.

Why we should celebrate

Chapter of the Year is about recognizing our vast Net Impact network, and honoring the meaningful ways each of our local communities make change.

Although each of these chapters is different, one theme is consistent: they cannot do it alone.

Chapter leaders rely on each other for support, both locally and otherwise, through Net Impact global and our annual conference. This year's Chapter of the Year winners truly embody the great work all of our chapters accomplish every year.

As Adam Menter of San Francisco, says: "It's amazing what can happen when people with passion, intelligence, and creativity come together to create an experience and community." We agree.

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