Transition of Leadership

The current Executive Director has indicated his desire to retire at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. In order to ensure the continuity of the WI Sustainable Business Council, the Green Masters Program, the Annual Conference and other activities of the Council, the board has issued a Request for Proposals to host the WI Sustainable Business Council and to maintain or expand upon its current activities. 


Proposals need to


  1. Describe how the Council would fit within your organization.   

  2. Describe the support (resources, facilities, people and/or financial) that is available within your organization for the Council. 

  3. Indicate how you would provide the services the Council is currently providing.

  4. Include a marked up copy of a Contract that would exist between the two organizations.

If Interested

**Download Required Documents**

If an organization (academic or non-for-profit) is interested in hosting the Council, they should submit a Proposal by April 30th:


Proposals may be submitted to the WI Sustainable Business Council by hard or soft copy (i.e. electronically or via mail) as follows:


For hard-copy Expressions of Interest:


WI Sustainable Business Council

Attn:  Tom Eggert

5810 Idledale Circle

Madison, WI 53711


For soft-copy Expressions of Interest (in pdf format):

(Please include in the Subject Line – Expression of Interest)

The Conference Call for parties interested in submitting a proposal was held Tuesday, April 24th.  During the conference call, Tom was asked for the following information:


Conference Attendance:

2017 Conference                            Kohler                  258

2016 Conference                            LaCrosse             253

2015 Conference                            Oshkosh              274

2014 Conference                            Milwaukee           353

2013 Conference                            Dodgeville           335


Green Masters Program Participants:

2017                     177

2016                     163

2015                     168

2014                     140

2013                     100


The text from the email to new board members:
"I wanted to follow up on your interest in a position on the Council's Board of Advisors.


As you may know, we have 12 advisers, and they are broken into 3 groups of 4 advisers each.  Each group serves a staggered 3 year term.  One group of four has their terms ending at the end of the year.


Expectations of the board include attending (either in person or by phone) 3 meetings during the year plus the annual conference.  In addition, there may be some requests for assistance or guidance that I send out occasionally throughout the year.  However, I understand that you are all very busy people, so I have not asked for much. 

All board members are asked to bring their companies into the Green Masters Program.

In addition, each board member is responsible for securing sponsorship dollars for our annual conference from their company.  The sponsorship commitment is $5,000 annually.  I would need this money in early fall to help cover pre-conference costs.  In reality, the sponsors’ money mainly goes to offset the costs of having students attend the conference and for running the Green Masters Program.

I look forward to receiving proposals next week.


Recently Asked Questions

Would the WSBC accept a joint proposal from two organizations who would partner to provide the programs and services outlined in Attachment A to the RFP?

The Council would welcome a joint proposal. However, if one of the parties is a for profit organization, they would not be able to use any of the funds that the Council will transfer to the selected entity. All funds currently held by Cool Choices for the WI Sustainable Business Council carry with them a permanent non-profit designation. They were donated to a non-profit, and can only be transferred and used by a non-profit (which includes educational institutions).

In terms of funding, can the council continue to fund a PA and part of a new director's time, as it did in the past?

The model as it currently exists works to do this. But, it will take a unique person to make that model work going forward. First, we hold our costs way down. We have never paid for a venue to have a 400 person conference. This year, Kohler is donating the space. In past years, Lands End, American Family Insurance, Harley Davidson, Miron Construction and Empire Screen Printing have donated the space. You'll need someone that's able to sell large businesses on the benefits of hosting the annual conference. Second, our advisers each agree to provide $5,000 as sponsors of the conference. Some work with the advisers and recrafting expectations would need to be done. Third, we take in somewhere around $30k from attendees of the conference (some years its more, some years its less). Fourth, we continue to experiment with monetizing the Green Masters Program. More work can be done with this. The simple answer is the right person with the right incentives to offer should be able to continue to generate sufficient revenue to make this model work. But, we'll be looking for a commitment to making it work in case you don't find that right person.

What if any costs to the host institution?

With this Request for Expressions of Interest, WSBC is soliciting organizations or institutions that will agree to assume responsibility for running the WI Sustainable Business Council. While it is true that the Council has been run for the last 10 years as revenue positive (revenue exceeds costs), this is directly a result of Tom's decision to take no salary for his role as Executive Director. Going forward, the Board does not believe that the Executive Director position should be uncompensated. Upon factoring in a reasonable cost for an Executive Director, WSBC will require additional revenue. How that revenue is obtained will depend upon the next Executive Director.
WSBC has never sought or accepted grants. WSBC has never provided consulting services to businesses (there have been many asks). WSBC has never charged for webinars or developed additional revenue-generating events. All are possible new revenue sources for a new Executive Director. As mentioned in the Request for Expressions of Interest and in the answers below, there are several sources of current revenue. If a new Executive Director fully realized all possible revenue from existing sources (maximized return from future conferences, fully developed a spring symposium and awards and solicited additional businesses for sponsorship support) and continued to minimize costs (mostly through finding host institutions for events that would assume the cost for hosting the fall conference and spring symposium), it is possible that little additional financial support would be required. However, the Board desires to secure at least a 3 year financial commitment from the selected institution and will leave it to the selected host to work through how they will meet that commitment.

We understand that the WSBC is currently staffed by the Executive Director and a Project Assistant and that undergraduate students provide significant support for coordinating the annual conference and preparing the State of Wisconsin Sustainability Report. Could you please advise regarding whether the Executive Director and Project Assistant roles are full-time or part-time positions?

The Executive Director is an uncompensated part-time position. The Project Assistant is a 1/3rd time Project Assistant position (through the UW).

If the positions are part-time, could you please indicate the hours per week (or year) that are assumed for each role?

Over the course of a year, Tom averages 10+ hours/week, with much higher totals in the 2 months leading up to the December conference. The Project Assistant averages 12 – 15 hours per week.

For each role, please provide an estimate of the percentage of time spent on various tasks over the course of the year (ex. Green Masters administration, conference organizing, report preparation, outreach, etc.).

The Executive Director spends 20% of his time on administrative issues and oversite related to the Project Assistant (PA), 25% of his time on development and oversite of the conference, 25% of his time on developing strategy and promoting the Council and its programs, 15% of his time interacting with the Board and soliciting new board members, and 15% of his time answering requests or questions about Council activities. The PA spends 100% of his time administering and promoting the Green Masters Program and maintaining the Council website.

Are there assumptions, policies, or other considerations, that would limit the ability of the host organization to earn revenue by selling products and services to members of the Board of Advisors, Green Masters participants, or other program participants?

I don’t know that I fully understand the question, but it would be up to the new Executive Director, the current board and the hosting organization to develop appropriate policies or other considerations.

Would the host organization be allowed to earn a surplus through its role in hosting the WSBC?

This would be up to the host organization and the board.

The Request for Expressions of Interest uses the phrase, “house or host the WSBC.” What does the WSBC view as the distinction between an organization housing the WSBC and an organization hosting the WSBC?

Housing the organization is viewed as adopting the organization and bringing it entirely in-house. This would be akin to a buyout in the private sector. The brand “WI Sustainable Business Council” would continue to exist, but there would be no independent organization any longer. The current board would probably no longer exist.

Hosting the organization implies that the organization still independently exists, and still would seek guidance and direction from the current board. It would exist as an independent part of the hosting organization (much like the current arrangement with the Nelson Institute at the UW).

What does ‘house/host’ mean? Do we just need to provide space for meetings/events, or would we have to run their events for them as well? I'm envisioning some staff time here from our end to help organize key events and programs, but perhaps the internal capacity of WSBC is such that I wouldn't have to bring additional staff time to the table.

The Council has been supported by the UW since it's inception in 2009 in that my appointment with the UW has included a service component which I have met by serving as the Executive Director of the Council. In addition, the relationship with the UW goes deeper in that the Council supports a grad student (as a Project Assistant) to serve as the Director of the Green Masters Program. In addition, students from my fall semester class plan and direct the annual WI Sustainable Business Conference and students from my spring semester class prepare the annual State of Wisconsin Sustainability Report. We would expect whatever organization is selected as a result of the upcoming Request for Proposal to commit to continuing to present an annual conference, commit to continuing to run and adapt the Green Masters Program and continue to prepare a State Sustainability Report. How these obligations are met is up to the selected organization. I will note that with my leaving, there is no additional internal capacity of the Council. Kevin Banas, the current PA, will be graduating in May, 2019, so he also will be unavailable. There is currently a board of 12 advisers, representing a cross-section of businesses from around the state. Whether they continue on will be at the discretion of the selected organization, but they are advisers only. Thus, the short answer to your question is the selected organization would be taking full responsibility for running the events and programs and producing the reports.

The "Background" section of the RFP states that the WSBC has operated at a surplus; however the 2017 financial statement attached to the RFP shows a $20,700.42 loss. Could you please clarify these two statements?

2017 was an exception to the statement in the Background section. For the first time, the Council was required to pick up the entire cost of the Executive Director and the Green Masters Program director (2 separate positions). Previously, a portion of the costs of the Executive Director was covered by the contract for teaching that Tom had from the UW. This is fully explained in the spreadsheets that are available for the last 4 years.

The conference expenses increased significantly from 2015, when they were $9,677.75, to 2017, when they were $39,290.33. Could you please provide context for this increase and advise regarding any changes that may affect future trends in conference costs.

2017 costs were impacted by an agreement between the Council and Kohler whereby the Council agreed to contribute $10,000 toward the full costs of the conference. In addition, attendance numbers that were less than planned for. Other than the addition of the $10,000 agreement (which was not unprecedented), the remaining costs of the conference were comparable to the previous year.

If the WSBC is not a legal entity, could you please clarify the mechanism through which it would execute the proposed contract with the host organization?

The Board of the WI Sustainable Business Council asked this same question. You will see elements of the contract that empower the Board to enforce the contract. In essence, any enforcement by the Board of elements of the Contract would be governed by the Contract. The selected entity must agree to these elements of the contract for the transfer of “the Council” to move forward.

In the first paragraphs of the RFP it states: “The purpose of the Council is to increase awareness about sustainability through education, networking, an annual conference and mentorship opportunities that allow the sharing of information. Notably, the Council is not an advocacy organization.” The statement seems remarkably neutral as compared to statements on the website that suggest WSBC wants to encourage businesses to be more sustainable, not to just build awareness. For example, under About Us: “The council is designed to bring businesses together and provide resources to help businesses on their path toward being more sustainable.” Is this a deliberate shift in emphasis or was the aim to convey that WSBC would not engage in lobbying activities? The use of the term “advocacy” is confusing since I'd categorize all of what WSBC does as a form of advocacy, showcasing the advantages of sustainability to business leaders (and policy leaders for that matter).

This is a great question. The only thing that should be read into the “Purpose of the Council” section of the RFP is that the Board will not support an effort to create a lobbying organization. Our use of the term “advocacy” is meant solely to cover lobbying. We agree that the continuing purpose of the Council is to encourage and enable businesses to become more sustainable. Nothing is meant to be changed in that purpose as the Council finds a new host.

The Green Masters program uses a web-based platform to collect data and report results. Please provide a description of the programming languages used and the current data storage framework. Will all historic data be transferred to the new host? What level of data security is required to ensure participant confidentiality? What level of IT and programmatic support does this system typically require on an annual basis and how is that workload distributed in comparison to the conference?

We have created the impression that a more sophisticated software platform is beneath the Green Masters Program than ultimately exists. We use Qualtrics, which is a well-regarded survey software program. Every year we update the survey by changing some questions, deleting some questions and adding some questions. Qualtrics maintains the questionnaire and all of the raw data for every year that the program has existed. There is currently no cost for this as Qualtrics is the official survey software of UW Madison. There is no programming involved and all security (data and applicant) is provided by Qualtrics. No applicant can see any other applicant’s data. The majority of the workload with respect to the questionnaire is between December and the end of January when the program is updated.

Attachment A references a spring event and the annual conference without specifying a timeframe for the conference. Is the conference timeframe flexible or is that required to be in December?

The attached contract requires a conference be held each calendar year. However, when the conference is held is up to the selected applicant. The conference has been held early December for 10 years and has created an expectation for a conference at that time. To move the conference would require more work, and perhaps significantly more work, to establish a new time. In addition, the annual meeting with the board is to follow the conference by a quarter, enabling a report out on the overall success of the successful applicant’s efforts. If the date of the conference is changed, a new meeting time with the Council may need to be established. However, this would be done through an amendment to the Contract.

Associated with the timing of the conference is a cash-flow issue. While WSBC revenue has exceeded expenses every year but 2017, the cash flow seems more complicated. About 90% of revenue occurs in November and December from the annual conference - which means that a host, particularly in the early years, needs to leverage other resources to fund WSBC activities for most of the year. Is this an accurate representation of the financial picture? Do you want us to specifically address how we'll handle cash flow in our budget or discussion of financial commitment?

You are correct in that the majority of revenue flows into the Council late in the year. Even after drawing on the revenue provided by the Council each year pursuant to the Contract, the successful applicant may need to front some money until late in the year. This could be addressed by changing when the Board would be asked to provide their sponsorship dollars. All Proposals should explain how cash flow will be handled both during the first year, and then in the second and subsequent years. This is currently a requirement of the RFP.

How many case studies have been created annually in the last few years? Were those produced by staff or by students in one or more courses?

All case studies have been prepared by students, generally interns over the summer. No case studies have been prepared in the last 3 summers. In total, we have more than 30 case studies.

Can you explain the relationship with the UW Foundation?

The UW Foundation accepts and processes all gifts to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the case of gifts from the WI Sustainable Business Council, donations are made specifically to support the Program Assistant that runs the Green Masters Program. In addition, for part of 2016 and all of 2017, the Council was asked to support Tom Eggert. The support of Tom Eggert ended at the end of 2017, and in 2018, the Council is only supporting the Program Assistant. In 2017 $100k; in 2016 $50k, and in 2015 $25K went to UW Foundation - what specifically was this for? See above. The Council provided complete support for Tom and the Program Assistant in 2017, and for half of 2016. I understand that in 2017 $100K was allotted to pay Tom’s salary and that of the Program Assistant. As there is no salary listed for either, should I assume that the $100k paid to UW Foundation in 2017 was to then pay these two salaries? The money donated in 2017 was to cover the costs of both the Executive Director and the Program Assistant What was the specific allotment to you and the intern? The total cost for Tom was roughly $72,000, leaving $28,000 for the Program Assistant. Will this continue in 2018? The only support that is continuing in 2018 is that for the Program Assistant. We are committed to supporting the person in that role through Spring, 2019. In the FAQs, it is stated that the roles are uncompensated. Which is it? The Executive Director position was never designed to be a compensated position. Tom founded and served as the Executive Director of the Council as part of his UW contract. That contract lapsed, as described above, but is now back in force. The Program Assistant was always a compensated position.

I notice there is a small salaries and wages section - to whom and for what services does this go?

These are the costs to the Council of having Cool Choices function as our fiscal agent.

I do not see any accounting fees. Is Cool Choices donating those services? There is no in-kind showing this on the P&L.

We do not maintain separate books from those of Cool Choices, so the accounting fees are rolled into the fees paid by Cool Choices.

Is the website on a private server, UW servers, or hosted on a shared hosting service?

The website is hosted on GoDaddy and is designed in WIX.

Qualtrics - As UW Madison may not continue to host/sponsor WSBC though your job, Qualtrics will have to be purchased. Can you find out from Qualtrics what an account will cost to host the green masters survey and WSBCs other surveys. They give me the run around with a non-quote of starting with the low thousands. Last I checked 4 years ago, it was like $10k/yr

The Green Masters Program is currently hosted on Qualtrics, but could be hosted on any survey software. According to this page, starting costs is $299/year. But, according to this page,, “the basic package which includes Research Suite (the survey builder) costs around $5,000 a year.” With whatever option is chosen, a non-profit should be entitled to a reduced rate.

Are there any other services/benefits being provided by UW Madison or Cool Choices or other sources that will have to be paid for under new hosting arrangements? And what will be their cost in time or money?

There are no additional services or benefits being provided by UW Madison or Cool Choices.

It states that despite the $10k to Kohler in cost sharing, the remaining cost $29K in 2017 Conference expenses were comparable with previous year. This does not appear to be the case. Conference costs in the previous years averaged to $11,652: (2014 $11k; 2015 $10k; 2016 $14K). 2017, minus the $10K, at $29,290 is still 2.5 times the average of the previous years. If just looking at 2016, it is twice the expense. What was the source of the 100% increase in cost. The fewer number of attendees should have decreased expenses. If that is not the case, please explain.

The category Conference, Conventions and Meetings contains the numbers reference above. In 2017 a couple of unique bookkeeping things were done. The American Club billed the Council for the entire costs of the conference and then Kohler paid for $20,000 of the costs. Thus, there is a $20,000 entry under “Corporate Contributions” which does not exist in any other year. This then offsets $20,000 of conference costs, recorded in the Conference, Conventions and Meeting category. Combine this with the extraordinary agreement to provide $10,000 to Kohler for the costs of the 2017 conference, and the cost of the conference in 2017 was just under $10,000 – which is in line with past years.

Please break down the sponsorship model.

Each of the Advisors to the WI Sustainable Business Council is asked to provide $5,000 annually as a sponsorship commitment for the Conference. In addition, we solicit limited additional sponsorships of $5,000.

In FAQ #11 It is stated that each advisory company contributes $5k in sponsorship for the conference. That amounts to $60,000 assuming they are all paying at that level. My understanding is that they do not all pay that, some considerably less. Where does the extra sponsorship money come from and do they come with any additional expectations.

All advisors are asked to pay the same amount. In some cases, we accept services in lieu of payment. As stated above, the extra sponsorship money comes from a select group of other sponsors. All sponsors are offered an opportunity to display at the conference, offered 5 free tickets to the conference, and a generous package of publicity.

Where did the extra $20k in corporate contributions come from in 2017 and with what expectations? How are they different from sponsorship?

See above. For bookkeeping purposes, we treated Kohler’s payment of $20,000 of the costs at the American Club as an in-kind contribution, so our books both reflect revenue and costs that balance out.

As written in the RFP, it sounds like none of the money WSBC earns, has in reserves, or will be allocated by the board can be used to pay for for-profit use. Non-profits regularly pay for services and consulting from for profit entities. If a for profit is administering the council as a hired executive/consultant, this should feasible.

This is beyond our ability to answer and you would need to consult with your accountant.

How is this new mentoring program being managed and are there any additional costs associated with it? What is the time requirement of leadership to manage it?

The Program Assistant is currently managing this program as part of his on-going responsibilities for the Green Masters Program. There are no additional costs. Time requirements to date have been minimal (less than an hour on average per week).

When is the Skype conference call scheduled for early April?

The Skype conference call is currently scheduled for April 24th.

The RFP indicates the WSBC board would control the asset balance of the WSBC, for the first 5 years. We think we understand the intent, you don’t want someone to raid the cash drawer and put the organization at risk, but would like some clarity on how you and the board see this working.

As stated in the Generic Contract, attached to the RFP: “As of the Effective Date, the Council will transfer control of all the Council’s assets (“Assets”) to an account jointly managed by the Board and the Host. All withdrawals from this account will require both parties to sign-off on the withdrawal. Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement and in compliance with Section E below, the Host may only use the Assets in furtherance of the Requirements of this Agreement, as outlined under Section A above. The Host shall provide quarterly updates to the Board on revenue earned, costs incurred and the Assets. E. Initial Funds. The Council will have liquid assets included in the Assets exceeding one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) on the Effective Date (“Initial Funds”). The Host may not access the Initial Funds except as provided in this Section E. Following the Effective Date, the Host shall have immediate access and may use one-fifth (1/5) of the Initial Funds. On each annual anniversary of the Effective Date, the Host shall gain access and may use another one-fifth (1/5) of the Initial Funds. On the fourth annual anniversary of the Effective Date, the Host shall be permitted to utilize the full amount of the Initial Funds. If this Agreement is terminated prior to an annual anniversary date, access by the Host to any remaining Funds under this Section E shall be prohibited.” In summary, the successful respondent will have immediate access to 1/5th of the assets available on the effective day of the contract, and access to an additional 1/5th on each subsequent anniversary of the contract until the “Initial Funds” are gone.

Can you provide an estimate of what the fund balance will be when the books are closed at the end of 2018? There was a transfer of $100,000 to the UW Foundation in 2017. Are there more special or unique cost anticipated or planned?

We anticipate another transfer of $25,000 to the UW Foundation during calendar year 2018 to cover the costs of the Program Assistant for the 2018-2019 academic year. There are no other additional transfers anticipated. As for guessing on how much money will be available at the end of 2018, we have no way of justifying a guess. We do not have a venue selected for the conference yet, and thus we have no idea on how to estimate the costs. And, of course, we have no idea about the revenue from the conference. We are comfortable standing behind the language in the contract attached to the RFP which states “The Council will have liquid assets included in the Assets exceeding one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) on the Effective Date (“Initial Funds”).”

We are trying to estimate any additional cost for technology that is currently provide by the University. Are there programs or platforms (Qualtrics?) and others that are provided by the University that we will need to acquire?

The website for the conference is hosted on GoDaddy. Qualtrics is the historic survey software that we have used for the Green Masters Program, but any survey software could be used for the Green Masters Program. The costs for Qualtrics for a non-profit should be less than for the general public. I have seen estimates between $299/year and $5,000/year.

We are currently engaged with our legal and accounting advisors, while we are working to an April 30 submission, would an extension be provided if needed?

Because of the late date of the Skype conference, we are extending the due date to May 4th.

Recently Asked Questions

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