5 Ways to Use Earth Day to Put Your Nonprofit in the Green
If it seems like every other advertisement is adopting a “green” strategy to show product alignment with environmental friendliness, you are not seeing things. Corporations, nonprofits, and even government agencies are hopping on the green bandwagon because it pays off. Studies show that a majority of people value green, and more than 35% will pay more for green, even in a bad economy. In fact, consumers think that organizations and corporations have an obligation to try to be green.
So, if you are a nonprofit that believes in green but has not necessarily aligned itself with green to date, a good way to get on the wagon is to use Earth Day! Here are some easy ways to take part that will also help you with your fundraising effort and potentially save you money in your operating budget.
1. Get invited to an Earth Day Expo
Thousands of corporations, nonprofits, and schools have Earth Day Expos, where they invite nonprofits from the community to talk to their employees or set up an informational table about how they can be greener and give back environmentally to the community via volunteering or donations.
These can be fantastic ways to build partnerships with corporations that translate to dollars later, through employee giving or direct corporate contributions. It also will establish you as a “green” partner possibility for all of the other nonprofits in the room. Even if you are not a “green” organization, you can get a spot in a few different ways. For example:
- Ask an environmental nonprofit with which you are friendly if you can share its table. It should be excited to give you space because it is probably overtaxed by invitations and cannot man all of the events in the area.
- Find events that have registration fees. They will probably take anyone as long as you pay!
- If you cannot get invited, just go to the event with a pocketful of business cards and make some new connections.
2. Register employees with a local volunteer cleanup
Earth Day cleanups are classic events for parks, nature centers, hiking groups, schools, and a seemingly never-ending list of good green affiliates. Get a few of your employees to form a team for your organization and join forces! You will make friends with the environmental nonprofits as well as green-minded community leaders. You can post pictures of your work on your website, blog, and Facebook page later, and you will be included in the press from the event, linking you to green.
3. Start a joint crowd-funding campaign with an environmental group
In 2012, Groupon sponsored an Earth Day Crowdrise event raising more than $30,000 for green nonprofits. Twisting that idea a bit, ask an innovative green nonprofit with a good social media presence and email list to partner with you on a crowd-funding campaign for Earth Day. You can invent a cause or event matching your two missions and then mutually benefit each other by sharing your online networks.
If you are a community center with a daycare for poor single mothers, for example, partner with a local nature center and have an “Earth Day Care” campaign to give the kids an outdoor experience at the nature center for the week of Earth Day. It would not require many resources or additional staff time, just a bit of travel, but the returns on direct fundraising and then also network-building could be huge for your organization.
4. Advertise your green practices
Sit down with your staff and brainstorm everything you do that is green. You probably do a lot! Then advertise your greenness by writing a list on your website of how you are committed to helping the planet and conserving resources, in the spirit of Earth Day.
Some examples that you might not immediately consider:
- Two employees bike to work a few days a week. Calculate the positive carbon impact.
- You email all of your annual appeal campaigns (because you have no direct mail budget, but it is green!).
- Half of employees bring lunch in reusable containers. Calculate the landfill waste being saved from not using take out containers. Annually it might be fairly big. If you use mugs and glasses at desks instead of soda cans and water bottles, you are saving a huge amount of energy and waste as well.
5. Have an organizational green fast for a week
Especially if your green practices are few, you can organize a media stunt where you fast from your excesses for a week, calculate the measurable impact of your effort if you can, and then pledge to be greener with measureable goals going forward. Blast a press release and post your effort on your social media network and website. For examples:
- Carpool for a week to drastically reduce carbon footprint. You can organize employee car drop points to get to and from work, and you can also try to organize meetings more effectively to travel less and together when possible. If you can, make a train, bike, or bus pledge to not use cars at all for a week!
- Use less energy in the office building. Office buildings waste significant amounts of energy by leaving lights on, keeping the air conditioning on at night or at unreasonably strong temperatures, etc. Try the EPA’s carbon calculator to see where you can cut back. You will save money in the process too.
- Pledge to not use any non-reusable bottles, containers, forks, knives, spoons, etc. for a week in all of your offices. Ask each employee to calculate how much waste they saved by doing so (and probably personal expenses as well!).
- Do not print anything for a week (unless you have a grant deadline). Calculate how much paper you saved. We tend to print much more than we need, and staff might become cognizant of how they can reduce to save paper and also supplies costs to your organization!
Going green is popular not only because the public views it as an organizational responsibility, but also because it can help you save money and pool resources with other local organizations. It is easy to take part as well, with a bit of creativity and a small personal staff investment. Be green this Earth Day for the planet and also to save money and increase your prospect base!
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