The Kermit Squad: It Is Easy Being Green
In the past several years, "greening" has become a buzz word. It has become an umbrella term encompassing everything from recycling to energy efficiency to "clean" resources. As a field committed to social awareness, philanthropic organizations should consider being at the forefront of the greening movement. Greening practices such as electronic grantmaking and monitoring are rapidly becoming integral parts of best practice models. However, true greening encourages organizations to critically analyze all of their processes, policies, and practices in order to make them more environmentally sustainable. Strategies that can be used to accomplish this transformation, from quick-fixes to intensive modifications, include purchasing less-toxic cleaning products; switching to reusable kitchenware; utilizing recycled and recyclable alternatives when available; undergoing an environmental audit and following up on the recommendations to reduce waste and impact; encouraging employees to use web, video, and conference call technology in lieu of traveling; being conscious of energy use, and getting your building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.
In 2008, GMN membership requested that greening be listed as a goal in GMN’s 2009-2011 strategic plan, as it was interested in learning how to incorporate this concept into individual departments and organizations. Chaired by Sarah Heaton, Johnson Family Foundation, and Yolanda Morris, Wilburforce Foundation, the Kermit Squad was established at the 2009 GMN Annual Conference as a sub-committee of the Collective Knowledge Committee. The goal of the Kermit Squad is to improve the philanthropic sector by identifying and promoting environmentally sustainable practices. We believe it is easy being green!
At the initial meeting in Denver, the group discussed the need to learn about current practices, barriers, opportunities, and perceptions toward greening philanthropy from the GMN membership. To achieve this, on July 7, 2009, a member survey was launched to better understand the ways in which organizations consider the environment in respect to their policies and practices. The group attempted to make the survey applicable to the full range of GMN member organizations, regardless of grantmaker type, asset size, number of staff, and office space regulations.
The survey received a positive reception, with responses from 285 members. Several members also generously submitted materials created by their respective organizations. The Kermit Squad will share this detailed information on greening initiatives already underway as examples to help contextualize and support survey data, which will be released in Spring 2010.
The full survey report will showcase green practices among GMN member organizations; dispel misconceptions, and identify common barriers to greening, in a format that will enable members to easily find information relevant to their organization and situation. In addition, the report will offer guidance on benchmarking practices; highlight strategies for the adoption of green practices, including discussing the concept with senior leadership, and provide information on future trends.
Until the report becomes available, each of us should think about and consider the concept of greening, in general. It is important to note that greening doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing -- if it isn’t possible to obtain LEED certification for your office building, your organization can still make changes to promote environmental awareness. Moreover, green alternatives are often cost-efficient and can be modified to suit the organization’s culture and resources. Encouraging your organization to actively think about greening also gives you an opportunity to take on a leadership role.
The Kermit Squad will continue to offer tips to the GMN community about greening their organizations – see the next issue of the GMN Examiner for more on greening! If you are inspired and want to get involved immediately, consider joining the Kermit Squad. There are a number of volunteer opportunities on the committee so it’s a great time to get involved.
If you have any questions or are interested in joining please contact:
sheaton [at-sign] jffnd [dot] org (Sarah Heaton) at (212) 766-4528, or
yolanda [at-sign] wilburforce [dot] org (Yolanda Morris) at (206) 632-2325 x113.
The GMN Examiner Editorial Team
The GMN Examiner is published three times a year through the dedicated efforts of GMN members and volunteers.
Ericka Novotny – Editor
Allison Gister – Associate Editor