The Development Source

Go Green with your Grant Proposals!

As individuals and nonprofit organizations, we have an obligation to reduce the carbon footprint on our overheating planet.  Going green in proposal development is good for you, good for the planet, and good for your mission.  When I deal with an organization, I am always impressed when I learn that a portion of their power comes from wind-generated energy or that they use ecological practices and materials in their day-to-day work.

This is not just preaching.  My business gets 50 percent of its power from wind energy, uses 100 percent recycled paper, and recycles all of its paper, plastics, and metal.  And when I travel to nearby clients, I drive my Honda Civic two-door hatchback or frequently take theWashington,DCmetropolitan metro and walk to their offices.  Creating a healthier planet begins with you and me.

These are my recommended steps for going green with your proposals:

  • Step 1:  Start with an energy audit of your organization.  Identify what you can do on a day-to-day basis to reduce your energy costs, from your office procedures to shipping and production.  Do you really know how much paper you use in a month?  What would be the implications of stating in your next proposal that “We believe in your mission to reduce our carbon footprint and we have printed this proposal on 100% recycled paper?”
  • Step 2Identify ways to use less paper.  It takes 3 tons of wood to make 1 ton of paper; paper mills are big producers of green house gas emissions; most paper mills are located on water supplies; many inks are poisonous; and white paper is bleached.  All this is really bad for the environment.
  • Step 3Switch to eco-friendly paper for your office and proposals.  Use a 90 whiteness, 100 percent recycled, FSC-certified, 20-pound store brand with soy-based inks.
  • Step 4:  Use recycled materials more frequently.  Besides paper, can you identify other components of your proposal development process that can use recycled or eco-friendly materials?
  • Step 5Understand the costs of going green.  In the short run, it will cost more, but in the long run you will save money.  Also, keep in mind that going green is an investment in something bigger and more important than your organization or your proposal.
  • Step 6Encourage your colleagues and employees to make the same kinds of changes in their personal lives.  The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 30 percent of its resources.  A greener planet begins in your zip code.  A good start would be to have your proposal team read Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy:  The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2008).

The paper suggestions for going green come from Mike Parkinson and Colleen Jolly of the 24 Hour Company. 

Going green is a rather simple organizational concept, but you and your colleagues may resist it because you do not think it is important or because it involves too many changes in your everyday life.  Help yourself and your planet by addressing one of the greatest moral and leadership issues of our time.  Going green will help make you healthier and happier and it will demonstrate to your funders and potential funders that you are a thoughtful and socially responsible organization.


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