Connect the Dots: Helping Nonprofits Go Green


Many nonprofits and other NGOs are interested in going green. Some are working to improve environmental health and sustainability themselves, others recognize that environmental issues tie in to seemingly unrelated concerns as diverse as public health and low income housing. Still others simply feel it is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, with so many other pressing issues to deal with, and often insignificant staff or funding to handle even ordinary day-to-day operations as effectively as desired, greening the organization’s operations often falls by the wayside.

Connect the Dots can help.

Connect the Dots, a project of the Earth Island Institute, is an organization that provides technical assistance to nonprofit organizations seeking to go green.

What They Do

Connect the Dot’s Green Start program offers nonprofit organizations the opportunity to partner with Connect the Dots for a three month “personal training” session covering the following five areas:

  • Waste Management. The Green Start program seeks to help organizations reduce the amount of waste they produce, with a special focus on the office and the kitchen. The program emphasisizes the classic three R’s of environmental sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and can also help establish an organizational composting system.
  • Energy and Water Conservation. The Green Start program not only evaluates the organization’s energy and water use and suggests more efficient alternatives, it also coordinates with local energy companies and government offices to receive financial assistance and other incentives to reduce energy and water consumption.
  • Environmentally-Preferred Purchasing. The Green Start program helps organizations switch to office supplies and other products used by your company that are better for the environment, including items such as recycled paper, compostable foodware, energy efficient electronics, and more.
  • Education and Outreach. The Green Start program provides education and outreach to help educate organization board members, staff, and volunteers to change their behavior in ways that benefit the environment.
  • Measurements and Evaluation. In addition to its iitial evaluatio, the Green Start program offers planning and tracking tools to help the organization assess the impact of the changes over the long term.

Many of these changes ot only benefit the environment, they can also save significant amounts of money for the organization – money which can then be used to expand or improve programs, hire additional staff, or improve outreach.

For example, after going through Connect the Dot’s Green Start program, the San Francisco-based Hamilton Family Center reduced electricity consumption by 33%, water consumption by 20%, and paper consumption by 25%. In the process, they saved $8,500 up front and project their annual savings will be $15,500! To learn more about the Hamilton Family Center’s experience with the Green Start program, read their case study of the partnership.

The Green Start program is most helpful for nonprofits with the ability to authorize changes to their facility, such as upgrades to water or lighting fixtures.

To learn more about how you can enter the Green Start program, visit their official website.

How You Can Help

If you want to help Connect the Dots help nonprofits save money and the environment, you can make a tax-deductible donation at their website, or volunteer to become a Green Start Consultant!

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