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4 Nonprofits Using Technology to Advance Sustainability

By April 20, 2018

While humanity is facing great challenges at a local and global scale, individuals and organizations are using technology to help scale up their work to meet the challenges we face.

Here’s how four nonprofits are using technology to help protect the planet and transform what’s possible.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Conservation Society
Wildlife Conservation Society is perhaps best known as the nonprofit that runs the Bronx Zoo and helps save big animals like elephants, tigers, and zebras. They’re leading the pack (pun intended) at using technology to connect more deeply with their constituents to address threats to wildlife – and succeed.

Conservation in the face of global systemic threats to wildlife demands a systemic and global response. So WCS is empowering millions of people, around the world, to be able to take action at a moment’s notice, to impact policy and conservation action. Jan Kaderly‎, Vice President of Public Engagement and Digital Programs at the ‎Wildlife Conservation Society, shared that can now mobilize huge numbers of people quickly. Thanks to technology, WCS engaged 100,000 constituents to build support to re-route a highway in Nigeria in just six weeks. And it was going to cut right through a mountain gorilla habitat!

For more about how WCS uses technology, read more and watch their video.


EarthCorps helps grow environmental leaders in the U.S. and around the world for habitat restoration and more. To manage and grow their organization’s impact in the world, they’ve had to manage a whopping 170,000 volunteers.

At one point, EarthCorps used Excel sheets and it was “chaos,” they said. EarthCorps uses Salesforce to manage fundraising, recruiting, volunteers, and programs – including fee for service work. Having all their data in one place helps them tell their story and report on impact to funders. Program managers in the field can also easily find out important information about constituent relationships and upcoming events on a mobile phone, without having to travel back to an office in person to get paper based updates.

Learn how to manage volunteers here on Trailhead, or see how EarthCorps uses technology to manage and scale their programs in this video.


Island Wood A School in the Woods
Part of protecting the environment is developing environmental stewards from learners to leaders. That requires educational programs – and funding to run them. IslandWood’s mission is to provide extraordinary learning experiences to inspire lifelong community and environmental stewardship. They do that through their residential school overnight program, two master graduate programs, urban school programs, and educational programming at a wastewater treatment plant.

Before moving to using cloud technology at their nonprofit, they spent hundreds of hours using spreadsheets. After moving to the cloud, their finance team now has shortened the monthly close time by at least 3 days, increased visibility with sales and philanthropy teams, and can better monitor and track grants and programs. But perhaps the most transformative change that IslandWood has achieved by using technology is in collaborating better internally: their finance team is now seen as a strategic partner, rather than number crunchers. For example, if an event is canceled, the programs team can consults finance on innovative ways to make up the revenue. With great technology, sales and finance teams can quickly and easily monitor income from conferences and programs at the touch of a button.

Better financial decisions means better educational programs for a better world.

Learn more about how IslandWood uses technology in this case study or video.

The National Aquarium

The National Aquarium

Have you ever spent a night at the museum as a kid? Technology works in the background at the National Aquarium to educate the next generation. Every year, the National Aquarium in Baltimore welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors, manages over 1,000 volunteers, and runs programs to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.

Old technology hampered the experience, with disconnected spreadsheets that didn’t meet the nonprofit’s needs as they worked to ensure each person has the experience of a lifetime. With better technology, the Aquarium’s development, guest services, youth program, and marketing departments all run off of Salesforce, which has enabled the Aquarium staff to work more collaboratively, save time, and cut costs.

Key to the mission of the Aquarium are the programs they run. Summer camps, youth programs and conservation events all live in Salesforce, meaning their website info is always up to date with details and scheduling information. “Salesforce makes it very simple for us to manage our programs,” says Michael Grandel, the Director of Business Intelligence at the National Aquarium. Great technology makes environmental impact easier.

Read more about how the National Aquarium grows their impact with technology.


P.S. We practice what we preach – as of last year, Salesforce achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions – fulfilling the commitment we made publicly in 2015 – and we are now delivering a carbon-neutral cloud for all of our customers.