Social Good Summit 2019: What Matters to Nonprofits
Recently, members of our team attended the Social Good Summit 2019. The people who participated in the conference left energized — and with a reality check. As said at the summit, we only have one planet. There is no Planet B, but we can all do our part. In fact, we all must do our part for sustainability. That includes nonprofits. No matter the mission of your group, we all have a responsibility to help save the planet. So, if you position your charity as a leader in sustainability, in addition to the work of your mission, you will get more supporters to join you. I'll also note a few things you can do today to be a nonprofit sustainability leader.
Highlights of the Social Good Summit
A few of the highlights from the Social Good Summit:
- Climate change is a human rights issue.
- Climate change dramatically affects the poor.
- The sustainability movement — as well as other movements — is led by the young.
- Changing our habits may be inconvenient, but it is vital.
- The cost of doing nothing exceeds that of addressing climate change.
- Climate change is adversely affecting animals, insects and birds, causing the sixth mass extinction.
What's at Stake With Climate Change?
Because of the work we do with shoe drive fundraisers, we recently published a guide about green living. And to add to the urgent words discussed at the Social Good Summit, we have more thoughts about the situation:
- Because of rising sea levels, there is a significant risk to the homes and lives of 800 million people.
- The last 35 years have brought the greatest warming of our planet on record.
- Glaciers, which are essential for the planet, are disappearing throughout the planet at an unprecedented rate.
- Humans make 262 million tons of waste each year.
- Every year, Americans throw away 81 pounds of clothes, including shoes.
All of these points, including those discussed at the summit, are alarming. So, what can every nonprofit leader do for leadership in addressing climate change in their community? Again, this is something that every family, business, nonprofit and government must resolve. But we know that pressure will increase on governments and companies if social good organizations, families and individuals push.
Action After the Social Good Summit
Unfortunately, the public is losing trust in the nonprofit sector. And one of the reasons is because they demand impact. The population of today needs social good organizations to innovate. And they don't want excuses and reasons why things can't change. Those are not acceptable answers to questions about improving the lives of people and the climate. Now, let's explore how you can help our planet and its people.
Make a Written Plan to Become a Climate Nonprofit Leader
If a plan is not written down, so people can be accountable, the chances are your nonprofit won't execute it. So show leadership by asking your board and nonprofit team to put together a climate plan for your group. Write it down. Make it measurable, and see how you're doing every quarter or year.
Limit Travel, and Livestream Meetings, Conferences and Events
One of the things humans do that hurts the environment the most is travel. Today, there are alternatives to getting on a plane. For instance, one member traveled to the Social Good Summit, but others on our team watched it online. These days, all meetings, conferences and events can be livestreamed. So, limit the travel on airplanes.
Save Trees, and Get on the Cloud
We need trees to process the CO2 released into the air. The technology that exists today allows all of us in developed countries to use the cloud and digital sharing, and storage platforms. If you have to print, do it — but only if it's necessary. Otherwise, share information digitally with your team, donors and supporters. In other words, limit print jobs to the absolute minimum.
Cut the Phantom Power in Your Office
A straightforward thing you can do — today — is to cut the usage of phantom power. In other words, at the end of the workday, don't leave electronic items plugged into the electric sockets. When you do it, you cut the use of energy, and you'll also lower your electric bill. Power off, and unplug computers, printers, coffee machines and any other electric items you have in the office.
Become a Climate Leader, and Drop-Off Location in Your Community
Finally, on this one, I'm going to tell you that there is a way to have your community dispose of clothing and shoes correctly. For the sake of transparency, I'm the CEO of several shoe drive fundraising organizations and a credential shoe drive organization for entrepreneurs in developing nations. Many of you might now be aware, but I've been in the shoe business my entire life. Because of it, I'm aware of how shoes and textiles can significantly harm the environment. In fact, the fashion industry has a responsibility to create apparel that lasts longer. But, all of us also must recycle, upcycle and repurpose clothing and shoes. In other words, don't throw them in the trash where they ultimately devastate the environment. That's why I do what I do today.
Your nonprofit can demonstrate social good leadership (and raise money) by doing a shoe drive fundraiser. You can serve as a drop-off location for your community. Or, you and your supporters can send sneakers and athletic shoes directly to us. The footwear gets shipped to people living in poverty in developing nations. And, as was mentioned earlier, because agriculture is becoming tougher with climate change issues, they need work opportunities to survive. So, selling shoes is a popular alternative.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.