How Earth-friendly is your nonprofit or foundation? Take this quiz to find out


[Image description: An image of the earth, craddled between two bright green leaves, as if it were a fruit growing out of a plant. The background is completely black]

Hi everyone. Before we begin today’s post, a couple of announcements. First, just a reminder my organization is hiring a Development Director and an Operations Associate. We will begin interviewing soon.

Second, RVC is launching a naming rights campaign. We aim to name everything in the office—from the conference room to the fridge to the microwave to each of the cabinet drawers. Support RVC’s work developing leaders of color, and immortalize yourself, by naming a white board or shoe rack. 

Earth Day is coming up, and despite our sector being full of thoughtful and amazing people doing awesome work, let’s face it, many of us suck at being green. I was at a fundraising dinner with 500 attendees or so, and noticed that everyone got a 30-page glossy program booklet. Barely anyone took it home at the end of the event, which means that 489 program booklets ended up in recycling or trash. Multiply this by one billion events we have each year as a sector, and we’re basically destroying whole forests.

Maybe we should think about having only one or two booklets per table, and figure out other ways to recognize our sponsors. Plus, since they’re rarer, people might actually want them! 

We also use a lot of disposable utensils for events: Cups, plates, forks, etc. They’re convenient. But maybe we should try to cut back, or use compostable stuff, or do both. And why isn’t edible utensils a thing yet?! I’d love to be able to just eat the plate and napkins when I’m done with my meals.

Anyway, I asked the NWB Facebook community, along with colleagues such as Paul Beaudet ofthe Wilburforce Foundation, for suggestions, and have synthesized these tips into an easy quiz. Go through it with your team and see how your organization does. Actually, because I can’t copy and paste into this blog post without it screwing up the formatting, please use this PDF.  (But maybe try not to print it out if you can).

[Image description: This is a screen capture of Questions 3 and 4 of the quiz]

Keep in mind that this is nowhere near comprehensive, and may change with further suggestions. Its purpose is to spark some conversations about how we can be more environmentally conscious in our daily nonprofit work.

Because none of us want our grandkids to invent a time machine and come back to slap us.

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Make Mondays suck a little less. Get a notice each Monday morning when a new post arrives. Subscribe to NWB by scrolling to the top right of this page (maybe scroll down a little) and enter in your email address (If you’re on the phone, it may be at the bottom). Also, join the NWB Facebook community for daily hilarity.

Also, join Nonprofit Happy Hour, a peer support group on Facebook, and if you are an ED/CEO, join ED Happy Hour. These are great forums for when you have a problem and want to get advice from colleagues, or you just want to share pictures of unicorns. Check them out.

Donate, or give a grant, to Vu’s organizationRainier Valley Corps, which has the mission of bringing more leaders of color into the nonprofit sector and getting diverse communities to work together to address systemic issues.



5 thoughts on “How Earth-friendly is your nonprofit or foundation? Take this quiz to find out

  1. Katie Edwards

    My organization is housed at the Alliance Center in Denver, a LEED Platinum Certified shared space for sustainability-focused nonprofits. Bikes and transit riders outnumber drivers, and here feeding hungry nonprofit staff after events is an EPA recognized waste diversion strategy.

    I had our building manager take this quiz, and by his estimate we hit 125 for Green Unicorn status BEFORE any of the redemption points. By the time you added all of the bonuses in, we were at 174. We propose that you add an extra category for “Green Falcons” between Platypus and Unicorn status, so those of us really raising the bar – maybe 110 to 140 points?

  2. Idealist Consulting

    We’ve been thinking a lot about this quiz in the past day since we’ve read it. We’d love to help you turn it into a digital quiz! As a B Corp (doing business for good!) and a tech company, this quiz is incredibly deep to our values and we have some resources to help you turn it into more than a PDF as it evolves.

    Let us know if you’re interested in working together on this! -Jacqueline, Idealist Consulting

  3. Karen

    As a cat shelter, we struggle with this one. Cleaning and sanitizing everything takes a huge amount of time, water, and energy. We can replace many reusable items with paper or cardboard and trade off the time, energy, and water for trees. Either way we’re destroying the planet. We do some of each, balance based on work load, and try to be as efficient as we can, but animal sheltering is not earth-friendly. 🙁

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