The United Nations recognizes three pillars of sustainability: economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. One of the major hurdles for implementing sustainable practices are the perceived costs involved. Switching to environmentally positive fuel sources, improved management of toxic emissions, waste management and recycling, and the reduction of water usage typically requires a significant investment.
Despite this, North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and some other parts of Asia, have all seen meaningful, measurable increases in sustainability initiatives. Much of this is a result of grants, rebates, and financial incentives offered by environmentally conscious individuals, organizations, and government agencies that are committed to improving the environment.Reasons Why Grant Writing is Important
Government agencies and other organizations provide millions of dollars in grant funding to support sustainability and environmentally responsible projects. Sustainability coordinators should be sure to fully appraise themselves of all grant opportunities that might apply to their institution’s sustainability mission.
Failing to apply for applicable grants will result in missed opportunities and can add an unnecessary burden to an organization’s sustainability efforts. Coordinators must embrace the fact that granting organizations are dedicated to the same improvements to the ecosystems that they are.
Here are 5 reasons why grant writing is critical to the success of sustainability initiatives:
If every environmental advance had to be self-funded, virtually nothing would be accomplished. Environmental projects can be expensive to initiate even though the long-term payoffs are substantial and attainable. Be aware that CEO job performance is measured by the short-term profitability that their efforts generate. Most will defer environmental improvements until sometime in the unforeseeable future, usually long after they have gone. Without external funding, good intentions tend to go by the wayside.
Organizations that can show a notable commitment to sustainable objectives enhance their reputation and marketability in the community. These efforts will be rewarded in profitability and support. Grants make these improvements affordable.
In most situations, the implementation of more sustainable initiatives results in significant costs savings to the organization. Grants received for the implementation of solar power and improved building insulation, for example, will reduce the cost of the implementation while facilitating long-term savings in energy costs.
If a coordinator fails to obtain the grant, someone else, possibly an organization's competitor, will. This may result in a competitive advantage for the competitor in both savings and community recognition.
Take it personally. If a sustainability coordinator can achieve measurable economic results through the implementation of grant-funded projects, the individual will continue to justify the position and compensation. If years go by without any tangible results, the position (or occupant of the position) is likely to disappear.
Go Where the Money Is
An infamous safe cracker, Willie Sutton, was once asked, “Why do you rob banks?”, he responded rather incredulously with “Because that’s where the money is.”
Applying for all applicable grants is certainly not like robbing banks. But every sustainability coordinator should develop the skills to apply for specific grants to support their efforts. Grant information resides all over the internet and the requirements for application are well defined.Start by listing and prioritizing the objectives to be accomplished. Make a list of all the grants that may apply to each objective, beginning with those closest to home. Most people are amazed by the opportunities available in their own backyards.
Do you have tips for writing sustainability grants? Share your thoughts in the comments!