More Nonprofits Are Becoming Eco-Friendly—Here's How Yours Can, Too
Most people who create nonprofit organizations do so because they have a charitable heart, and they wish to serve on the front lines of solving the worlds' toughest problems. One of the biggest issues we are facing today is epidemic pollution levels and rampant global warming. As such, many organizations dedicated to the greater good have switched to more sustainable practices.
You may hope to do the same with your nonprofit, but aren't sure where to start. As in all things, following in the footprints of others can help you achieve success. Examine these case studies and tips so you can add saving Mother Earth to your overall vision and mission.
Reducing, Reusing and Recycling
Clinton O'Brien, vice president of business development for Care2.com, an organization that stands for children's rights, women's rights and environmental stewardship, states switching to eco-friendly practices is essential for any nonprofit. He explains how switching to green practices pays for itself when it comes to fundraising. Once an organization has established a reputation for sustainable practices in the industry, wealthy donors feel safer investing larger amounts of money into it.
How can a nonprofit build such a reputation? Here are some takeaways for greening your own practices:
- Buy recycled products. The cost of purchasing recycled paper currently exceeds the price of regular, but the payoff in terms of keeping a green reputation makes the investment worth it. Additionally, higher price points challenge organizations to adopt additional sustainable practices, such as going paperless. With the advent of electronic technology, it only makes sense to save money and the planet at the same time.
- Ditch the paper cups. Many organizations have water coolers for guests with adjacent paper cups attached. Alternately, they offer plastic water bottles with their organization's logo. Save money and build brand recognition by ditching these in favor of washable mugs that describe your commitment to environmental stewardship.
- Reuse everyday objects. Do you run an organization dedicated to combating domestic violence? Place recycling bins at local retailers to collect cell phones for battered women and men in need. You'll encourage safe recycling of electronics while advancing your company's mission. If you run a food bank, consider partnering with local restaurants and grocers to use nonconforming produce and other products to feed those in need.
- Share your efforts on social media. On your nonprofit's website, include a page regarding the measures you take toward becoming more eco-friendly. You can share ideas like those above as well as others, like the way you encourage staff and volunteers to telecommute.
Shopping With a Heart
Approximately 41 million Americans suffer from food insecurity, going to bed hungry without knowing where their next meal is coming from. Former Trader Joe's CEO Doug Rauch hopes to change this statistic and has dedicated his life to helping people eat healthfully on the cheap.
After 30 years of CEO of the now-national grocery chain, Rauch decided to tackle this important issue. Rauch came to realize that simply giving poor people nearly expired food was not the problem—grocery stores have plenty of food unfit for their shelves to donate. The problem is many who struggle lack adequate income to purchase healthy foods which provide more than mere empty calories.
Rauch founded Daily Table Grocery, a nonprofit in Boston, Mass., which provides nourishing food to those in need. Other nonprofits can follow Rauch's lead by partnering with outside businesses that support their primary mission as well as their environmental stewardship. Some tips:
- Seek businesses that give to similar charities. Companies that have a history of donating to similar causes prove easier to approach.
- Visit local businesses first. While multinational donors can prove difficult to come by, local companies are happy to help out and build name recognition at the same time. Local partnerships reduce travel, increasing the green quotient.
- Look for businesses known for eco-friendly practices. They'll gravitate naturally toward your own sustainability efforts.
Making Medicine More Eco-Friendly
Several nonprofit teaching hospitals have made the switch to more sustainable practices. Many are making upgrades like exchanging fluorescent bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs. Some install automatic dimmer and power switches to reduce energy costs from unused rooms. Many make efforts to reduce single-use plastics and increase recycling efforts.
Takeaways other nonprofits can use include:
- Switch out lights and install automatic on-off switches. Swap out old fluorescent bulbs for energy-efficient models. Make sure the last person to leave remembers to turn off lights and electronics by installing a master on-off switch designed to shut everything down with one click.
- Install recycling bins on-site. A quick tour of many office buildings reveals few contain recycling containers. Take the initiative to install these in your building.
Making Your Organization Eco-Friendly
Instituting greener measures helps nonprofits save money and attract more donors. You're already doing what you can to help others—make saving the planet part of your organizations' mission as well.
Kayla Matthews writes about AI, the cloud and retail technology. You can also find her work on The Week, WIRED, Digital Trends, MarketingDive and Contently, or check out her personal tech blog.