Global temperatures are climbing. Ice caps are melting, droughts, wildfires, and super hurricanes are tearing their way across the planet.
One out of every 10 plants and animal species is expected to go extinct by 2050. By 2030, we may only have 10 percent of the rainforests left. Species-rich wild forests are being destroyed, especially in the tropics, often to make way for cattle ranching, soybean or palm oil plantations, or other agricultural monocultures. We are degrading the soil through overgrazing, monoculture planting, erosion, soil compaction, overexposure to pollutants, and land-use conversion. The growing global population, combined with growing affluence, is putting ever greater pressure on essential natural resources, like water.
These are only some of the major and pressing threats for the Earth — and all of life on it, including human life.
With issues like these looming over us, it comes as no surprise that Earth-friendly fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular.
And not just with non-profits and charities…
As donors become increasingly aware of their ecological footprint, they seek out and are more enthusiastic than ever about supporting environmentally friendly fundraisers and organizations.
You can even take inspiration from the top 20 global nonprofits that are protecting the environment.
We’ve compiled a list of effective eco-friendly fundraising ideas to help you raise funds for your organization, while at the same time promoting the values of health, environmental awareness, community, and sustainability.
7 Environmental (Eco-Friendly) Fundraising Ideas for your Nonprofit:
- Give it a Second Home
- Recycled Electronics
- Tree planting
- Clean up Party
- Meatless Monday
- Eco-Friendly Products
- Green Fast
1. Give it a Second Home
In 2013 alone, Americans discarded 15.1 million tons of clothing and other textiles, and 85 percent of that wound up in landfills. As clothes decompose, they release landfill gas, a toxic brew of air pollutants that includes the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. According to Forbes, the production of clothes (just clothes, not all textiles) is responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions on the planet. To make a pair of jeans, it takes up to 1,800 gallons of water, to be exact. That’s more water than you can or will drink in five years.
Instead of discarding surplus clothing and household textiles, this fundraiser gives them a second life. Hosting a clothing drive allows these items to be worn again, recycled, or repurposed for the good of your cause and our planet.
Set up, promote and manage your eco-friendly textile collection drive, making it as simple and fun as possible.
Pro tip: Before you start, get in touch with a local homeless shelter, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or someone who recycles and repurposes clothes.
2. Recycled Electronics
Many electronics are manufactured with harmful chemicals. If improperly disposed of, it leads the chemicals to be leached into the soil, polluting the groundwater. Furthermore, many high-tech electronics rely on the mining of raw materials, including precious and semi-precious metals such as copper, lead, silicon, and aluminum. Each time someone improperly disposes of an electronic device, another opportunity is missed to reuse these valuable materials.
Recycling electronics is a straight-forward fundraiser that will work particularly well for schools, colleges, and universities. It gives a second life to devices or their parts and keeps them from being improperly disposed of.
In many countries, old electronic devices can be exchanged for cash. Collect devices like:
- Cell phones
- MP3 players
- Ink cartridges
There are many ways in which these devices can be recycled; and a number of companies that will want to buy them from you (to either repair, refurbish and sell on; or to reclaim parts for reuse).
Set up a collection point, perhaps at your school, where people can drop off their old electronics. Advertise your recycling drive, making sure to emphasize that the drive is for a good cause. Throughout the drive, keep people informed about the progress (e.g. 100 phones donated so far), and encourage further donations. This can also be a year-round fundraiser.
For example, Recycling Fundraiser and Funding Factory buy back electronics which include cell phones, iPhones, iPads, and other digital electronic devices.
3. Tree Planting
One of the most dramatic impacts of deforestation is the loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. In addition to the loss of habitat, the lack of trees also allows a greater amount of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. Further effects of deforestation include soil erosion because, with the clearance of tree cover, the soil is directly exposed to the sun, making it dry.
This is an eco-friendly fundraising event idea that everyone will want to be a part of! Commit to planting a certain number of trees that matches up with your fundraising goal (for example, 10 trees for $1000).
When you reach your fundraising goal, get together with community members and plant the trees at a local park, forest, or nature preserve. Try to see if a local tree nursery would donate saplings to this event to increase your earnings even more.
4. Clean Up Party
Toxic materials or chemicals in litter can be blown or washed into rivers, forests, oceans, lakes, and creeks and eventually pollute the waterways, land, forest areas, soils or aquatic environments. Recently, scientists found high levels of plastic (usually microscopic particles) and debris in the southern ocean surrounding Antarctica. This ocean was previously thought to be untouched by pollution. Plastic clogs waterways, leading to flooding in underdeveloped nations. It’s also killing birds and fish who consume it.
Use the warmer spring and summer days to clean up your local community for a cleaner and healthier environment.
During a Clean Up Party, each volunteer gets a roll of garbage bags, a pair of gloves, and a shovel or garbage pick, and performs a walking clean-up of the designated area.
Firstly, set a date and time for your clean up event (ideally the weekend of Earth Day in April, but any day will do). Get your volunteers to collect pledges from family members, friends, local businesses, and neighbors in your community. You can involve kids and other younger people in the community, and they might help you raise extra funds through friends and family.
The pledges can be a flat rate, or per bag, kilo, pound, or truckload of trash collected. They can also be per square meter or road mile cleaned.
Brand the event, blast music, and make it fun and upbeat. This will motivate more individuals to join.
5. Meatless Monday
Animal agriculture not only exploits billions of animals every year, but is also a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, habitat loss, and major health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean factory farms, and give animals water to drink. Runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing are one of the leading causes of pollution in our rivers and lakes. More than 90 percent of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for grazing livestock. While factory farms are ruining our land, commercial fishing methods such as bottom trawling and long-lining often clear the ocean floor of all life and destroy coral reefs.
Place volunteers with pledge sheets at various high-traffic areas in your community. Run a fundraiser and challenge your community to give up meat for a day (Meatless Monday) or for a week and raise funds for your cause.
Set up your fundraising page and ask the participants to donate what they would usually spend on meat that day or that week.
Alternatively, you could turn this into a peer-to-peer fundraiser – where each of your participants would launch their own small fundraising campaigns and pages, encouraging their friends and family to donate in the name of them completing the challenge.
Create a Facebook page, Twitter profile, or another social media outlet for your community where participants can check-in each week.
6. Eco-Friendly Products
Plastic bags start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfills and the ocean. Birds often mistake shredded plastic bags for food, filling their stomachs with toxic debris. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes. It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. No corner of the world is free of plastic waste anymore, and the environment can no longer be considered healthy. Even Arctic regions are polluted by plastic, as are oceans and the ocean bed.
Instead of selling candy, balloons, or trinkets, offer eco-friendly products such as eco-friendly cleaning supplies, reusable grocery bags, biodegradable trash bags, organic coffees, teas or chocolates, and soy candles. Not only are they healthier for humans and the planet, but they either last for longer, serve a purpose, or are something that people use every day.
For example, Equal Exchange’s Catalog Fundraiser offers a variety of USDA-approved organic and Fair Trade chocolate, coffee, tea, cocoas, olive oil, and more at a 40% profit.
One of the best products to sell if you want to fundraise in an environmentally responsible way is to sell reusable shopping bags. Encouraging more people to use reusable shopping bags is a great way to both raise money and help the environment.
There are several companies that offer eco-bags for fundraisers. Jutebags has natural ‘bags for life’ that can be sold for fundraising. Expressions have 100% cotton bags that can be customized. Ecosilk bags also have beautiful, durable bags that come in a range of vibrant colors.
7. Green Fast
Regardless of their surge of popularity in recent years, we’re still far from Earth-friendly and sustainable practices becoming the norm. Only 20 years ago, most of the harmful effects we were having on nature were unknown. Many people simply don’t know how to do better in the eco stakes or don’t have any practical information on how they could be doing things differently. Some find the amount of information and tips too overwhelming, and the entire process too vast of a change.
Challenge your community to a green fast, asking them to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices for a single week. Pick only one or a couple of these to make the challenge less overwhelming for the participants. For example:
- Keeping showers at 2-3 minutes each.
- Washing clothes in cold water.
- Carpooling or using public transportation or a bike.
- Not using non-reusable bottles, containers, forks, knives, spoons, etc.
- Avoiding printing.
- Not leaving the water running.
- Start composting.
- Reusing scrap paper.
- Using cotton dishtowels.
- Shopping for plastic-free produce.
For best results, turn this into a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Encourage the challenge participants to reach out to friends, family, and acquaintances to solicit donations.
Bonus: Green & Sustainable Fundraising Ideas
1. Used Books Fair
Like with the clothing/textile drive, ask your community members to clean out their bookshelves and donate the books they don’t want to keep or read again. Then, organize a used book fair and sell the books.
2. Eco-Friendly Market
Eco-products are all the rage now, and new eco-friendly and eco-first companies are popping up every day. Hold an eco-friendly market and invite those companies to join in and hold a stall at the market for a set fee. You can also charge a small entry fee to customers to raise additional funds. It’s a win-win. The companies get to sell to more customers and raise their brand awareness, and you get to raise funds for a green cause.
3. Seeds and Growing Kits
Sell seeds or growing kits for flowers, plants, herbs, and vegetables. This fundraiser is particularly great for schools. Earth will only benefit from more people learning more about the complex process of growing plants and food. There are plenty of companies out there that offer a whole range of healthy, fun and educational products for you to choose from, which can be sold through a take-home drive, stall or event, or even a simple order form.
4. DIY Day
To encourage reusing and repurposing, organize a fun day of workshops where participants are taught how to mend or repurpose clothes, furniture pieces, toys, and more. Get all the supplies donated (or collect them), and inspire an eco-friendly and sustainable spirit.
You could even have zero-waste or low-impact bloggers come in and teach participants how to make their own toothpaste, tomato sauce, or detergent. Charge for participation.
5. Nature’s Classroom
Nature’s Classroom is an immersive and fun outdoor education program that aims to inspire participants to get to know and love the natural world. This fundraiser is particularly effective with children.
Organize team-based classes, games, quests, and challenges for participants to learn more about the great outdoors. Getting to know nature is the first step to respecting it and protecting it.
And don’t be afraid to go outside the box!
Here’s a stand-out sustainability project Temecula Valley High School as shared by snap-raise.com:
Temecula Valley High School’s Biosustainability Club in Southern California spent 2018 focused on an ambitious goal: upgrade their school greenhouse to include an aquaponics system for raising tilapia and cultivating crops at the same time.
Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics (growing plants in nutrient-rich water, skipping the soil) and aquaculture (raising fish in tanks). The two techniques work together in synergy, making aquaponics a sustainability powerhouse. The water in the aquaculture tanks eventually becomes filled with waste from the fish, and the water is then used to grow and nourish the plants. The plants essentially remove the waste from the water, acting as a natural filtration system, and the clean water is cycled back into the aquaculture tank to repeat the process all over again.
Aquaponics can conserve up to 99.75% of the water used in the system, and the process takes 90% less water to run than traditional soil-based farming. Fish grow, plants grow, and blue liquid gold is saved.
Running two Snap! Raise campaigns in 2018, Temecula’s Biosustainability Club crushed their fundraising goals by more than $2,000 each time, raising over $13,500 for live tilapia, wireless monitoring, water chemistry probes and more to get their aquaponics system off of the ground.
The community impact of this project is more than just theoretical; the food raised through the Biosustainability Club is donated to the Temecula Food Pantry and the high school’s culinary arts program.
It doesn’t take a lot to promote sustainability in lasting and valuable ways. Simply looking around your own school, organization, or community and starting to initiate small improvements is one of the easiest ways to support a cleaner and healthier planet for all.
The detrimental impact that human activities have on the environment is undeniable. Studies are being conducted each year demonstrating the extent of the issue. Climate change and other major environmental issues will result in catastrophic consequences in our future (and some of them are already visible).
More needs to be done to remedy the major environmental issues that affect us today. The good news is that by making changes, we can have a direct and positive impact on the environment.
Going green with earth-friendly products, recyclable materials, reusable containers, and more is the way to go. So why not also run a green fundraiser the next time you decide to have one? Raise funds, promote environmental awareness, and help the Earth – all at the same time!
At Donorbox, we strive to make your nonprofit experience as productive as possible, whether through our online donation system or through resources on our nonprofit blog.