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If you are an environmental nonprofit, or just a nonprofit going green, certain trends in American philanthropy can help you boost your fundraising! The bottom line is that nontraditional givers are now helping green nonprofits, for nontraditional reasons – and charity to green causes is rising faster than nearly any other giving segment as a result.  

According to Charity Navigator, in 2013 giving to environmental causes was up 7.5% to nearly $10 billion, and those numbers are only increasing. The core trends behind that phenomenon are highlighted here – make sure you know who the new green givers are and why they are investing as you develop your fundraising strategy!

Environmental Causes

Generations X and Y: Green at heart and the new heart of giving

Nearly half of the US population is now from generation X or Y (the “Millennials”), aged from 20 to 55 (give or take a few years). They are single-handedly changing the face of philanthropy – and in an effort to save the earth.

  • Pew polling shows that 70% of them think we should expand green energy instead of looking for more fossil fuels. The majority think more environmental regulation is worth the cost to the economy, and they admit climate change is happening and adaptation strategies are necessary.
  • They are also less religious, so they can be blamed for a decrease in religious giving for the first time in recorded charitable giving, as well as that money being channeled elsewhere.
  • Also, because they grew up in the digital age (especially Millennials), they feel connected to the whole world and their part in it.

New giving is stemming from these values, which support environmental consciousness and justice over other principles that may have received greater philanthropic priority in the past. Messaging and outreach aimed specifically to these generations, a best bet through social media and other tech tools, should be part of every green nonprofit agenda.

The dirtiest industries are turning into the greenest industries

The biggest and dirtiest global companies are now taking the lead on curbing negative effects of climate change and environmental impacts. Take a look at nearly any large energy company or manufacturing giant that might have been blamed in the past for environmental degradation, and you can probably find at least the seeds of new consciousness. Part of this is them protecting their image, while a greater part is them acknowledging that they need to embrace sustainable practice in a world of ever decreasing resources to meet their bottom line.

Forbes reported on ten industries in mining, manufacturing, and energy production that are making the biggest commitments to green their work and give back to help the environment – resulting in huge impacts globally.

The list includes LG, Budweiser, and PepsiCo, who has given hundreds of millions of dollars of grants to environmental projects globally, including a core capacity grant for the Earth Institute’s Columbia Water Center.

Nonprofits should revisit the foundation guidelines for all big manufacturers and tech industries that have substantial markets in their area.

Cause marketing: Corporate greening as social responsibility

Thousands of other companies that don’t top Forbes’ list are jumping on the green bandwagon as well – noting their commitment to environmental sustainability in their public relations and giving sponsorships and grants through their foundations. In our globally-connected world, consumers are demanding to know from where products came and how they were produced.

Nielson reported that more than half of consumers will pay more for a product if it can claim positive social and environmental impact. Corporations are cashing in – there was a 9% rise in US companies that report their corporate sustainability initiatives, in just 3 years (2008-2011) up from 74% to 83%.

Green labeling, green washing, or just involvement in green causes on some level has become a norm on the corporate cause marketing agenda.  This trend is a phenomenal opportunity for environmental nonprofits to attract new corporate sponsorship.

The booming health and wellness industry is green

The US “Health and Wellness” industry is now a trillion dollar enterprise, in large part because of the link between using environmentally friendly products and eating local and organic foods for health. In 2012, the Organic Trade Association reported that 81% of families bought organic at least some times, and domestic organic food production had increased 240% between 2002 and 2011, compared with only 3% in the non-organic market. Furthermore, nearly 60% of consumers look for the words “sustainable” and “local” on food in stores and on restaurant menus.

The bottom line is that Americans and global consumers alike are now associating “green” and “environmentally friendly” to their personal health and wellbeing. This trend will continue to open new doors for partnership between environmental groups and health-oriented agencies and giving vehicles.

More and more doors are opening for environmental nonprofits as new generations and corporations alike embrace a global consciousness and understand the impact of green to their own health and economic stability. Make sure you take advantage!

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