For the past seven years, the London-based City Bridge Trust has offered the organisations it funds additional grants to fund environmental projects. Only three have taken up the opportunity, however. This is one reason why the trust commissioned 12 'eco-audits' of organisations it supports. The recommendations of the audits cover a mixture of things that will cost money, such as installing double glazing, and others, such as lowering the heating, that will cut costs.
"This is the most exciting thing I've been involved in," says Donnachadh McCarthy, whose company, 3 Acorns, conducted the eco-audits.
Clare Thomas, chief grants officer at the trust, says: "We believe social and environmental justice are the same thing." The trust selected a cross-section of organisations, including the umbrella body the NCVO, volunteering charity CSV, chief executives body Acevo and the East London Mosque.
McCarthy looked at everything, from lobbying government to recycling, and made direct links between the organisations' client groups and their environmental policies. "Most of the congregation of the East London Mosque come from Bangladesh, so saying 'look after your carbon emissions' makes an immediate connection with the floods there."
First-stage recommendations cover issues such as energy efficiency, recycling, travel and purchasing.
"The sector hasn't been given clear guidelines on whether it should be environmentally aware or not," says McCarthy. "It ought to be clear that funding 'good housekeeping' isn't clashing with charitable objectives. We also need some funding streams."
Thomas intends to raise the issue with the Charity Commission, with the aim of securing more encouragement for good environmental practice.
Thomas and McCarthy agree that doing these 12 audits has been fascinating. McCarthy says: "There's already been a knock-on effect." He cites the way ideas have gone from offices to homes and on to other places such as schools. He says that when he checks up on progress in six months' time, he "expects to see miracles".