Go Green with Nonprofit Technology

Reduce PaperThink about how much paper you use for board meetings throughout the year. Pamphlets, handouts, printing costs, envelopes and postage all add up both financially and environmentally.

Studies estimate that 10 to 30 percent of paper usage can be reduced through the strategic implementation of technology.

Technology solutions, like board portals, eliminate wasted resources and help your board adopt more efficient, green processes.

Financial Benefits

Reduction of paper waste yields financial benefits. A byproduct of waste is inefficiency. Whether it is time allocated to locate documents or funds spent on paper resources, waste is toxic to any nonprofit’s efforts. 

Instead of spending money on paper, ink and shipping, do more with less and apply that money to activities that further your organization’s mission.

Financial benefits go beyond these supply savings too. Board efficiency sees maximum potential when important documents are provided in an easily accessible manner. Lost materials can derail meetings and leave members unprepared—a common outcome of paper-based processes.

With a board portal in place, board members no longer have to remember to bring documents or rummage through piles to find them. Instead, each member has a unique login to a secure site where meeting information is stored. This increased efficiency allows for more time to be allocated toward revenue-generating discussions.

Environmental Benefits

As you revise processes to allow for the financial benefits associated with cutting paper usage, also consider the environmental ones.

With half of the world’s tropical forests already cleared, the classic tale of The Lorax seems to be a not so distant fate. While the root cause of deforestation lies in metropolitan settlements and agriculture, thirty percent of trees harvested in the United States are manufactured into paper goods. 

Paper also plays a large and direct role in the landfill crisis. Thirty-two percent of landfills are made up of paper goods, which emit toxins as they degrade. 

The case for more environmentally friendly processes is proven and justified. Reduction of paper usage, even in the smallest of ways, can end unnecessary waste. Available technologies provide simple solutions to put your organization on the green track. 

The Paper Adds Up: A Look at the Numbers

Imagine the situation using board and committee packets as examples. Once all committee reports, finances and other pertinent data are included, it’s not uncommon for foundations and colleges to have upward of 100 pages per board packet and 10 pages per committee packet.

Based on industry benchmarks, we estimate that nonprofits spend $1,343.34 on paper annually for these packets alone, or $83.96 per board member.

Note: This does not include misprints or labor costs, or productivity and profit gains seen through more effective use of time and resources. Oberlin College analyzed the cost of printing, binding and mailing board and committee packets to its members, and found it cost $300 per year per member once all factors were included.


Paper Used — Board Meetings:


Board packet (pages)* = 100

Board members (industry average) = 16

Total pages of paper per meeting = 1,600


Board meetings per year (average) = 7.1

Pages of paper per board meeting = 1,600

Total pages of paper per year = 11,360


Paper Used — Committee Meetings: 


Committee packet (pages)* = 10

Number of people per committee** = 3     

Total pages of paper per meeting = 30


Number of committees (average) = 5.5

Committee meetings per year*** = 12 

Total number of meetings = 66


Total number of meetings = 66

Pages of paper per committee meeting = 30

Total pages of paper per year = 1,980


Estimated Paper Costs:


Purchase cost per sheet of paper = $0.003

Printing cost per sheet of paper = $0.03

Mailing cost per sheet of paper = $0.06

Short term storage cost per sheet of paper = $0.0067

Disposal costs per sheet of paper = $0.001                

Total cost per sheet of paper = $0.1007


Total pages of paper per year = 13,340

Total cost per sheet of paper = $.1007  

Total annual paper cost = $1,343.34


Environmental Impact:

Those same 13,340 sheets of paper translate into 1.6 trees.  


Sheets of paper from 1 tree = 8,333

Total pages of paper per year = 13,340  

Number of trees used annually = 1.6


This example looks at one tiny piece of the paper equation to show how costs and environmental factors can add up even in the smallest of ways. 

Think about all the paper your organization uses to manage its operations and communication on an annual basis. Are there ways you can cut back to save?

Here at StreamLink Software, we have taken the pledge to run a greener operation, have you? Schedule a demo of BoardMax to learn how you can achieve a paperless board.



* Estimates based on the number of files uploaded to BoardMax by our customer base.

** Uses average board size (16) and average number of committees (5.5) data, and then assumes that each person only serves on one committee.

*** Assumes committees meet monthly.

Image Source: Kate Ter Haar via FlickR