Climate change is now top of the agenda at all socially responsible organizations. And it is especially important at Unicef, because they recognize that climate change is now one of the biggest causes of child poverty. But their biggest fundraising income stream, by a long way, is through direct mail. And direct mail production amounted to over 60% of the total organizational carbon footprint.
Our first step was to carry out a carbon audit on the previous year’s fundraising activity, to provide a baseline for reduction. We did this through ‘Footmark’, a unique system we have developed for measuring the carbon impact of marketing production. ‘Footmark’ analyses each stage of the lifecycle of a piece of marketing collateral, from the manufacture of raw materials (such as paper) all the way through to disposal. It is the only carbon footprinting system for marketing services which conforms to the international standard, PAS 2050.
Using reports and analysis from ‘Footmark’, Brightsource’s sustainability team were able to understand the carbon ‘hotspots’ in Unicef’s fundraising campaigns. This guided the recommendations for carbon reduction, including using alternative raw materials, changes to production methods and suppliers, more economical formats and crucially a paper policy for the organization that specified the use of ‘low carbon’ recycled papers.
Reduced carbon emissions
Brightsource’s sustainability consultancy delivered a massive reduction in carbon emissions – 21% in year one, a further 16% in year two. (Unicef found it difficult to reduce their organizational footprint in other areas – without the reductions achieved in their fundraising communications, they would not have met their annual organizational target.)
Optimized fundraising activity
By using a carbon intensity measure as well as a financial ‘Return on Investment’ measure, Unicef are now able to optimize their fundraising activity across channels and formats that best satisfy both metrics. As a result, fundraising income has continued to grow while carbon emissions have fallen.
Unicef received some excellent external PR coverage for these achievements. But the internal impact was more important. They were seen by staff and trustees as practicing what they preached, and delivering on organizational commitments. One last thing… these benefits didn’t come at a financial cost. Brightsource delivered a production saving of over £200k in the first year.