Green Support Groups Tips

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Is there any assistance available for my green support group?

Need Help For Your Green Support Group?

Green support groups have an excellent resource in the Environmental Support Center (ESC). This Washington, D.C. group offers help for thousands of environmental groups across the United States. The website, www.envsc.org, offers information on training and organizational help from the ESC, plus resources for leadership help and even financial aid.

The ESC also offers technological resource assistance for groups with budgets under half a million dollars. The ESC is an important source of help for more than 2,000 local, state, and regional groups working on environmental projects. Nonprofit groups are eligible for assistance that meet specific criteria; they must be working for environmental causes as defined by eligibility guidelines. If your green support group is eligible, you may find a good deal of assistance from the ESC. You can find all the required applications and forms at www.envsc.org/es02000.htm

   
How can I feel assured that my financial support of green groups is handled properly?

Giving Green

Sometimes you don't have the time to get personally involved in the activities of a green support group. Many people feel better giving financial support in these cases, and environmentally aware groups always need extra monetary support. There are thousands of groups, from Greenpeace to the local Animal Shelter, all trying to make a difference in the environment in one way or another. The real question is—how well do you know your local green support group?

If you would like your money to be used for the greatest good, making an informed donation is essential. Many groups allow you to request financial statements which detail how monies donated are used, and to what ends. Any volunteer or non-profit organization should have a policy of fiscal responsibility and “transparency.”

Any group that is unwilling to tell you exactly how your donation will be used is suspect; never donate money to a group that won't tell you how its funds are being spent. Reputable non-profits and volunteer organizations have strict rules governing the handling of donations. Don't give money to any group that won't help you understand why you should give to them and not the organization down the street.

   
Are there additional opportunities in green support groups?

Getting Involved--Green Support Groups Part 2

Once you have found a green support group you want to join, the next step is figuring out what your strengths are. What can you contribute to the group? You may only be interested in the actual environmental work itself, but in time you may discover opportunities in fundraising, public relations, publicity campaigns and recruiting new members. Do you have good organizational skills? Excellent people skills? You could find yourself involved in a much different way than you originally thought, based on your abilities. It's important to realize you could have a larger impact on the organization than just a face in the crowd on a recycling run or beach cleanup day. It's also good for the green support group organizers to know if that's what you'd rather be doing. Any non-profit group needs all the expertise it can find; yours might be just what your local environmental group needs. Talk with your local organizers to learn what their current needs are-you may be just what they are looking for.

   
How can a college course help me get involved?

College Activism

Your local colleges and universities are often excellent places to find green friendly activities and green support groups. You might even consider taking a class or two on environmental issues to further your understanding of the bigger environmental picture. Many colleges offer a course on environmental biology that can offer much information. Do you know what permit trading is? How your local water supplies and air quality could be affected by permit trading? This is one of the basics of any environmental biology course, and the answers may startle you! Any environmentally aware course you take is sure to have some kind of lab or extra credit assignment involving an ecological concern, so the investment of time isn't limited to classroom work only. Check out your local college for a wealth of environmental resources.

   
How do I get started finding a green support group?

Getting Involved--Green Support Groups Part 1

There are literally thousands of ways to get involved in green living or environmentally aware groups. Some of them are incredibly organized and well funded, while others are informal get-togethers of concerned people. If you're looking for a place to start, it's a good idea to know what you have the time and energy to commit to before looking. Parents may find it easier to get involved in activities based at or near their children's school. Your local PTA, believe it or not, may be the perfect place to suggest, or get involved in, environmental projects. A chain of healthy-living grocery stores such as Whole Foods often sponsors green friendly seminars and activities at the store.

You can do plenty of networking at one of their activities. This chain also rewards customers for bringing back plastic shopping bags! If you would rather get involved in a larger organization, try a Google search for groups in your area. Once you find a group you think might be worth joining, do a little homework to learn about the local issues and how your group has contributed or helped out. When researching lesser-known groups in your area, try digging up newspaper articles on the group to see how they work within the community. Sometimes a smaller group might be just what you need, but know something about them before you join. There are plenty of excellent green support groups; as with anything else you should beware of scams and con artists. A legitimate organization shouldn't be too hard to dig up facts on!

   
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Jerry Mayo