April was Earth Month but extending green habits all year-round not only benefits the planet - it helps your organization too. The April edition of Nonprofits Live looked at environmental policy, sustainable practices, and nonprofit sustainability case studies.

NPLive welcomed guest contributors Jon Lebkowsky, nonprofit web strategist and frequent WorldChanging contributor; Kevin Danaher and Zoey Kroll from the City of San Francisco's Department of Environment (SFDOE); and Jamie Henn, communications director at 350.org.

Watch the recording of the online event and read on for highlights.

The Triple Bottom Line

Lebkowsky started off the discussion by looking at some practices that organizations can take to help the planet and their bottom line. Lebokowsky talked about a shift by many types of business to meet the “triple bottom line.” The triple bottom line defines success by meeting economic, ecological, and social goals.

Adopting this approach means that success isn’t confined to soley benefiting the organization. Meeting the triple bottom line does require adopting green tech solutions. Adopting green tech tools, like online conferencing or using online collaboration tools, can also improve an organization’s efficiency. However, not all green solutions are high tech – going green can be as simple as printing less or allowing staff to telecommute.

Making Sustainability Profitable

Danaher and Kroll spoke next about their work bridging the nonprofit sector and government to create useful policy changes for the public. As part of their efforts to help the public live sustainably, the San Francisco Department of the Environment has created a special website with green tips and resources. The San Francisco Department of Environment also has a special guide, Making Sustainability Profitable, to help the business community, both for-profit and nonprofit, operate sustainably.

Danaher also recommends the resources available on GreenNonprofits.org for nonprofit and library leaders. Organizations that want to partner with their local governments to promote sustainable practices need not wait for government to contact them, Kroll advises. Kroll, who’s worked on urban farm issues before working for SFDOE, advises organizations to share their stories to develop relationships to promote sustainability community-wide.

Cloud Technology for Collaboration

Rounding out the discussion, Henn of 350.org spoke of the organization’s founding and how it lives its mission through sustainable business practices. 350.org has a staff scattered across the globe, three offices, and mobilizes numerous volunteers for grassroots actions to bring about positive environmental change. The organization uses its website and social media to organize offline environmental actions between staff, volunteers, and supporters.

To make this all possible in a sustainable way the organization relies on cloud-based technology. Cloud technology makes collaboration possible with tools for online document storage, web conferencing, and instant communications.

Henn believes that employees, volunteers, and supporters are an organization's greatest resource for adopting green practices – something 350.org proves true.

For more green tips and resources, make sure to check out the TechSoup blog's GreenTech section.

Susan Chavez
Online Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global