top of page

This summer has been quite busy. Not busy like you would think. I’m not going to the cottage every weekend, or sipping on cool drinks at the beach. I’m busy this summer planning the year for Pitch It Green.

What is Pitch It Green you might ask? It’s a non-profit I founded that aims to connect youth with sustainability-focused business opportunities. The past year we’ve done everything from organizing a Sustainability Pitch Competition, leading a workshop in a high school regarding conscious consumption and participating in conferences such as the Canada Youth Summit and International Student Energy Summit.

Despite what you might think, leading a non-profit is far from easy. Over the year, I have learned some really valuable lessons:

1. Tell people that they are doing a good job.

Appreciation pays off for real. If you don’t tell someone that you value them and that you think they’re doing a great job, they won’t want to work for you. This is especially true for volunteer placements, where there needs to be another motivation besides money. There needs to be an incentive for staying, and trust me, your appreciation for them is a big factor.

2. Set a good example and be reliable.

I like to call myself a reliable person, so I always attend meetings, stick to my word, and fulfil my promises. I’ve noticed the importance of maintaining reliability, and how people give you more respect if you keep your word.

3. If you are persistent and love what you do, you can achieve great results.

Lots of people ask me how I secure countless sponsorships for our events or receive exclusive opportunities. My trick for approaching sponsorships is to keep going despite the rejections. For every 9 rejections there will be at least 1 person willing to back you. Once people see that you love what you do, they will want to support your cause.

4. Be open to improvement.

At Pitch It Green we have performance reviews, and whenever I finish reviewing someone, I ask them for feedback in return. Just because I might have a higher position than someone, doesn’t mean that I am perfect. You must be open to improvement for not just yourself, but for the team.

5. Be the bigger person always.

If someone leaves the team, still help them if they are ever in need. If someone misses a meeting, give them the benefit of the doubt. If someone fights with you, forgive and forget. As life goes on, we must remember that we are called to be understanding and to help others.

6. As an ecopreneur you need to take time to take care of yourself.

The stress of running an organization is unreal. Scheduling back to back calls, making social media posts, and punching in numbers for our accounting takes a lot of time and patience. What I’ve realized is that breaks are an inevitable part of life. You can either schedule them, or succumb to them once you’ve reached a point of burnout. The latter isn’t something I want to experience this year, so my goal is to take more breaks.

Looking back, I’m incredibly amazed at what we’ve accomplished so far, and I’m thrilled to be starting a new year with some new team members! Some of the events we have planned are hosting a Green Business Conference where we will be discussing fostering a sustainable marketplace in Toronto and the GTA. We’re also looking towards touring across different high schools by hosting workshops regarding ecopreneurship, as well as hosting our annual Sustainability Pitch Competition event.

For more about my journey as an ecopreneur with Pitch It Green, follow us @pitchitgreen on our social media or visit .

Warmest thanks to our 2019 Young Adult Sponsor

  • ka0687

Written by Karen Merk, LPPOC, PMP

One of my favourite things to do is to travel and experience different cultures, food, art, architecture, the outdoors and of course take lots of photos along the way. What we have not tried yet is the idea of planning a trip with purpose.

What do we mean by that?

What if you could have a vacation that allows you to also give back during that time?

This is not a new concept and is something that has been done for a while. Me to We for example is know for their trips to Africa, India and other locations, to help build schools or bring fresh water to a village, for a few examples.

Do you love animals or care about the environment? Earthwatch may just have the right trip for you to help rescue endangered animals or monitor a coral reef in the Caribbean. They challenge people to "Be More Than a Tourist".

Imagine having your annual company trip or convention also give back with your employees in an experience that completely engages them on a different level with a trip they will remember for their entire career. Or imagine choosing a vacation with purpose for your family connected to something you are all passionate about that will bond your children in a new and empowering way.

I'm going to check out the Treadright Foundation this year. It's an organization that inspires people to "Make Travel Matter" for a future trip that involves helping animals - something I've often thought about but just haven't put time into researching yet. is another planning resource that has over 16,000 programs and over 35,000 reviews to help you find the right trip and hear about what others have said about them.

Part of staying inspired is trying new things to open up our perspective. Are you ready for it?

Visit and read their summer edition for more ideas about traveling with purpose.

  • ka0687

Many people ask me how did Portraits of Giving get started? It began as a small idea that grew into something I didn't know it could evolve into at the time.

Over ten years ago, I kept meeting amazing people in our community as a photographer, who inspired me to the point where I wanted to start giving back and continue to do. I thought if they inspired me, how can I help them to inspire others? So the idea for the photography exhibit began in three towns: Richmond Hill, Aurora and Newmarket and kept growing over the past ten years to tour across all nine municipalities in York Region reaching over half a million people both online and in person.

We added knowledge sharing over social media, a speaker series, and more Honouree categories. We also found that the Exhibit opening receptions could raise money for local charities so Portraits of Giving also became an initiative about giving back, that actually gives back. We have raised over $60,000 for local charities over the years. As a small business owner, that is something I am very proud of and could not do without support from my organizing and advisory committees over the years. I am grateful to have colleagues who also believe that it's important to give back. Here is a link to our 10th Anniversary Video of moments during the POG tours over the past ten years:

So what about you? What new ideas can you think of?

First I would suggest to think about what is important to you, what are your skills, and what do you enjoy doing? Can you engage your team to join you? Ask your team what are they interested in? See where those thoughts take you and do a pilot initiative on a small scale. If it catches on, let it grow.

I recently saw a group of employees from a bank who all love sports, volunteer together for a charitable event, and because they volunteered, their employer donated $1000 to that not for profit organization. I thought that was a fantastic idea - it not only helped their community but also engaged their employees on a completely different level, and you always feel good when you give back. Helping others has many benefits.

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

I've always wanted to do something to help animals, so if you know of a way I could help, please contact me at

Karen Merk, LPPOC, PMP

Founder of Portraits of Giving

bottom of page