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Our recently completed 2015 Green Tech Success Story Contest winners and finalists are an impressive group, showcasing the broad reach and impact of TechSoup member charities doing environmental work. Their stories also highlight how important having the right technology is to accomplishing this important work.
We had many excellent submissions to the contest. Here are the top 10.
Boulder Food Rescue works with local businesses to collect surplus food that would usually be thrown away and distribute that food to people who need it. The organization's work addresses the environmental concern that 40 percent of all food in the United States is wasted every year.
On any given day, one of the organization's more than 150 volunteers will show up to the business, load the food onto a trailer attached to a bike, and then bike the fresh food to one of the 50 or so nonprofit organizations Boulder Food Rescue serves. They use refurbished tablet computers from TechSoup's Refurbished Computer Initiative program to conduct a survey of restaurants and grocery store employees and better understand food waste in Boulder.
Braided River is a Seattle-based publishing organization that is committed to inspiring support for critical conservation efforts. The nonprofit creates books, media campaigns, and museum exhibits about preserving North America's wild places. Its staff members are intensive users of an Adobe Creative Suite TechSoup donation.
Cary Creative Center in North Carolina is an upcycling nonprofit that provides used artistic materials to people. As a reuse organization, its motto is "make art, not waste." The organization estimates that it has reclaimed 50 tons of materials from the landfill.
Cary Creative Center has an art materials reuse store where people in the community can buy pretty much anything an arts teacher might want. QuickBooks for Nonprofits and Microsoft Office donations from TechSoup have helped Cary Creative Center become more organized and effectively present information to the organization's board and other stakeholders. The staff uses Excel for tracking the many donations that come in, and Microsoft Publisher for the organization's flyers.
Orangutan Outreach is a New York-based organization whose mission is to save critically endangered orangutans and protect their rainforest home.
Founder Richard Zimmerman started Orangutan Outreach in 2007, and the organization grew quickly thanks to a close affiliation with the Animal Planet series Orangutan Island.
The organization has raised well over a million dollars to care for hundreds of orphaned and displaced orangutans living in care centers in Borneo and Sumatra.
Orangutan Outreach used a donation of Adobe Creative Suite to produce and electronically distribute high-quality digital content for thousands of "adoptive parents." By not having to mail out physical adoption packets, it has been able to avoid using 100,000 plus sheets of paper, hundreds of ink cartridges, and all the fuel and carbon emissions associated with shipping.
Richard Zimmerman says, "TechSoup donations allow us to 'save the rainforest' while we're actually saving the rainforest. Pretty good deal!"
The Central Kentucky Audubon Society is a full service environmental organization for the 10 bluegrass counties in Central Kentucky. Here is a list of just some of the things it does:
The organization recently used the TechSoup donation of Microsoft Publisher to create a brochure called Plastic Pollution: What You Can Do to accompany a screening of the film Plastic Paradise. Tony Busate, president of the organization, told us that "the brochure turned out looking so professional and was so informative that attendees thought it was provided by the Plastic Paradise distributors and not tossed together pretty quickly by our nonprofit!"
San-Francisco-based RE-volv raises awareness about solar energy through its community-based solar projects and outreach programs across the U.S. The organization finances solar energy projects for nonprofits and cooperatives and also covers the initial costs of a solar installation by crowdfunding tax-deductible donations.
The organization has collected donations from 560 people, helped 1,800 people with funding for their solar installations, and spared the planet from 535,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. RE-volv's Solar Policy & Finance 101 slide show is well worth looking at. To do this work, RE-volv relies on TechSoup donations of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Information Technology Exchange is a computer refurbishing project near Bangor, Maine. It operates the PCs for Maine program, which provides refurbished computers to low-income individuals, schools, nonprofits, and libraries for use as public access workstations. The organization uses TechSoup donations of QuickBooks to do all its accounting and Adobe Creative Suite to create things like its video tutorials. Find our in-depth profile of Information Technology Exchange on TechSoup for Libraries.
Shoreline Solar Project is located just north of Seattle. It is an all-volunteer organization that produces the annual NW SolarFest, the Puget Sound region's largest and longest running renewable energy and sustainable living fair. The mid-summer event offers 100 exhibits and many presentations for 5,000 attendees.
Shoreline Solar Project finds that the software support from TechSoup is essential for all of its operations. The TechSoup Microsoft Office donation has provided professional communications and organizing tools. Volunteers use Adobe Acrobat to create online forms to expedite communications with exhibitors, food vendors, and speakers. QuickBooks for Nonprofits helps volunteers produce timely reports and filings. Maryn Winn, the cofounder and executive director of the Shoreline Solar Project, says: "I can't imagine life without TechSoup."
Sunstone Montessori School is a certified green nonprofit school in Portland, Oregon that serves toddlers through sixth graders.
The school strives to use as little energy as possible and to create as little waste as possible.
As part of a "Green Team" activity, the school tracked water and energy use for the school. Last year, it replaced 14 conventional toilets with new dual-flush low-flow ones and calculated that this cut water usage by 67 percent.
Waccamaw Riverkeeper in North Carolina is dedicated to the restoration of the endangered Waccamaw River and its watershed. The river's acidic waters are polluted with mercury and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.
Paula Reidhaar there told us: "We use TechSoup product donations to help our organization run smoothly so that we can spend time on the ground educating people, conducting water quality monitoring, and organizing litter cleanups along the river.
"Each of the items that we have received through TechSoup help us complete our work to protect fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters. We can conduct business over the Internet safely with the protection of Norton 360. Bloomerang has helped us to send out more regular mass emails to our constituents, which saves on paper and spreads the word about our activities and work."
Our top three winners received either a refurbished laptop or tablet from our great Refurbished Computer Initiative partners: CDI, InterConnection, and PC Rebuilders and Recyclers.
We offer our sincere congratulations to our 2015 GreenTech Success Story Contest finalists and applaud their impact on improving our environment. We are very proud that donated technology from TechSoup supports the important work of these organizations.
This story was written by Jim Lynch, director of green technology at TechSoup.
Images 1 and 3: Braided River
Image 2: Boulder Food Rescue
Image 4: Orangutan Outreach
Image 5: RE-volv
Image 6: Shoreline Solar
Image 7: Sunstone Montessori School
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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