Monday, January 9, 2012

January 2012 Creation Corner Column

Secular Environmental Groups

To follow up with the theme from last month, planting seeds of hope and action for the integrity of God's creation ("As you sow, so shall you reap," Gal. 6:7), we now look at investing in secular environmental organizations. Earlier columns listed Christian faith-based groups as cited in The Green Bible (NRSV, Harper Collins, 2008: See "Creation Corner Column" for Dec. 2008, Jan. 2009, Feb. 2009 at .

There are many not-for-profit environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs). Some, such as the National Audubon Society and Sierra Club, have local affiliates. Some are international in scope, such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. You may have received solicitations to join others: Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, EcoTrust, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, The Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, The Wilderness Society and others. These are some of the "Big Green" ENGOs (see ).

One challenge to the "Big Green" groups from 1994, that apparently has not been adequately responded to, can be found at .

Other national/state/regional/local secular efforts exist, and they also "compete" for your charitable dollar. When you decide to give to a group because of your biblical-based motivation to care for creation, and know what goal you hope to achieve with your financial contribution, how do you decide what to support? Some guidance can be gained by seeking answers to such questions as:

1. What impact does each have (read an annual statement)?
2. Is there a voting membership?
3. To whom is the group accountable?
4. What are the programs (activism, lobbying education, etc.) and how effective are they?
5. What are their ties with corporations, such as funding or representation on their board of directors?
6. What are their partnerships with grass-roots environmental efforts?
7. How large are the salaries paid to their CEOs (be wary of 7-figure incomes; see ?
8. Are they officially registered, and is their financial information available, at a state consumer service (in PA, call the PA Dept. of State, 1-800-732-0999) ?
9. Has it met standards of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, which evaluates national charities based on comprehensive standards for charitable accountability ( )?
10. Is the group really pro-environmental, or does it merely have a green-sounding name (see )?
11. Is it rated by The Charity Navigator, which has a "Guide to Intelligent Giving" and looks at 225 environmental protection and conservation organizations ( ?

To see an example of a "charity of the week" that has earned the highest ranking (four-star) from The Charity Navigator, the largest independent evaluator of charities in the U.S.A., see any current issue of "The Week" magazine (, click on "charity of the week" in the selection box). Charity Navigator ranks not-for-profit organizations on their financial strength, the effectiveness of their programs, the control of administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the transparency of their operations.

Some recent environmental examples from the 2011 issues of The Week are:

4/29 (American Wild Horse Sanctuary)
11/18 (African Wildlife Foundation)

Examples of groups doing work on natural and built environmental restoration following natural or human-induced disasters, such as Katrina, British Petroleum (BP), Haiti, post-earthquake/tsunami Fukushima, are:

4/1 (Partners in Health)
5/6 (Greater New Orleans Foundation)
8/19-26 (International Rescue Committee)
12/9 (International Relief Teams)

Other evaluators of non-profits include:

Readers searching for directories of environmental organizations might see click on activism in menu bar, then Environmental Organization directory and search by state click on organizations in side bar


Thanks to the staff of the Madigan Library at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA for their on-going assistance to me in compiling information for this column and in helping to post it to this blog.