3 Steps Every Nonprofit Can Take to Protect the Environment
Every organization has a role to play in tackling climate change and protecting the environment, including nonprofits. But what does it mean to act sustainably? And how can nonprofits engage in environmental protection without getting distracted from their mission?
Adopting a sustainability mindset is about more than just recycling and reducing waste. Here are three meaningful ways that your organization can incorporate environmental sustainability into its everyday operations.
1. Understand how climate change intersects with your mission
Climate change isn’t only relevant to nonprofits with environmentally focused missions. As Peggy Brannigan, LinkedIn’s director of Global Environmental Sustainability, explains, “from poverty to human rights, medical research to the exoneration of the innocent — every noble effort will be challenged by the environmental destruction and systemic disruptions of climate change.”
Viewing climate change through this lens can help you make a strong case for both implementing environmentally sustainable practices at your nonprofit and incorporating resilience efforts into your programming. Nonprofits invested in improving public health, for instance, may want to factor the effects of forest fires on air quality into their long-term efforts.
It’s also worth noting that climate change disproportionately impacts those facing socioeconomic inequalities. If your organization supports marginalized communities, advocating for environmental justice and equity can fall under that umbrella.
2. Focus on education both internally and externally
Environmental sustainability is a complex issue. Educating yourself, your leaders, and your team is key to making environmental sustainability a true priority at your organization. Here are some good resources to explore as you develop your green skills:
Greenbiz’s various sustainability reports, webinars, and other resources
GlobalGiving’s “10 Free Resources for Nonprofits Fighting the Climate Crisis”
LinkedIn Learning’s “The Employee’s Guide to Sustainability,” led by sustainability expert Elizabeth Bagley
As you build out your environmental sustainability initiatives, it’s also worth educating your supporters about what your nonprofit is doing in this space. Many supporters will be glad to know that your organization is proactively thinking about ways to factor climate change into its programming, helping to strengthen their relationship with your nonprofit.
3. Keep environmental sustainability top of mind
To build environmental sustainability into the fabric of your organization, it’s important to ask how new initiatives align with your sustainability efforts and whether climate resiliency has been factored into the plan. By being intentional about asking the right questions and bringing environmental sustainability to the forefront of conversations, you can help everyone at your organization build that muscle until it becomes second nature.
It’s also important to set goals and consider how you’re going to track progress toward them. This will help your team envision success and stay accountable.
For more tips to help your nonprofit protect the environment and adopt a mindset of environmental sustainability, check out Peggy Brannigan’s blog post, “How Nonprofits Can Engage in Sustainability.”