Sustainability at Classy: Project Green and Our Corporate Commitments

4 min
Classy sustainability program beach cleanup
profile picture of Classy blog contributor Tori Callahan
Tori Callahan

This is a guest post by Tori Callahan, Chief of Staff and Head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Impact.

When it comes to sustainability, Classy’s core competency is our ability to empower the environmental nonprofits who use our platform to activate their online fundraising. Organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force, the Trust for Public Land, the Arbor Day Foundation (to name a few) are on the frontlines of the sustainability and climate crisis. We keep their missions in mind as we build reliable, secure, and robust fundraising tools that drive sustainable revenue to fund their missions.

We focus on product quality and innovation, but we also consider how we, as a technology company, can build a more sustainable world. We’re excited to share how we’re approaching sustainability in hopes others might learn from our journey, or better yet, weigh in with their advice on how we can improve.

Classy’s Environmental Charter

Classy exists to create a more inclusive and sustainable world for all.

Just as we mobilize and empower our nonprofit communities to realize their missions, we must also turn inward and learn how our activities impact the planet that we and all of our stakeholders call home.

We must take swift and calculated action to ensure our operations and impact—collectively and individually—are sustainable, responsible, and environmentally conscious.

We will charge ahead with intent and purpose in the best interest of the environment because we understand that when we protect our planet, we protect the longevity of our social enterprise, our nonprofit customers, our community, shareholders, and each other.

A big piece of our sustainability strategy is in partnering with Project Green, a community of Classy employees passionate about integrating sustainability into Classy’s stakeholder groups—our customers, our staff, our investors and partners, and our community. 

Customer Success Manager Ali McElroy leads Project Green and has helped grow the community from five core employees to 20 active members and over 100 who regularly contribute to the Slack channel and engage in Project Green-led activities. The community, which has representation from every department at Classy, initially focused on employee engagement and education and identified areas to greenify the office space. 

During the process to obtain our B Corp Certification, we partnered with Ali and Project Green to take a more serious look at how we could fulfill our vision to create a more inclusive and sustainable world for all. Through research and many conversations, we solidified Classy’s sustainability charter and corporate commitments. 

Classy’s Sustainability Commitments 

  1. Enable and empower a culture of environmentally conscious stakeholders
  2. Achieve carbon neutrality 
  3. Achieve supply chain sustainability 

Project Green’s mission statement is to mobilize and empower all Classy stakeholders to create a sustainable future. They do this by: 

  1. Influencing corporate sustainability policies and practices
  2. Educating and engaging employees
  3. Leading by example with our customers and vendors

We’re proud of Project Green’s contributions as they’ve moved beyond just education and towards inspiring action. In partnership, we are committed to achieving the following milestones:

Influence Company Policies and Practices

  • Corporate Green Policy: Achieved
  • Environmentally Preferred Vendor List: Achieved
  • B Corp Certification: Achieved
  • Measure our carbon footprint for FY21 and compare it to the previous year’s baseline: In progress
  • Provide company policy recommendations to monitor and reduce emissions: In progress
  • Evaluate existing company incentives and their environmental implications. Propose new incentives: In progress
  • Implement a lightweight screening process for bringing on or renewing new vendors: In progress
  • Expand the minds of buyers at Classy to seek out environmentally conscious/B Corp/sustainably-minded companies when selecting new vendors and partners: In progress

Educate and Engage Employees

  • Classy Roots Newsletter: Achieved 
  • Composting Co-op: Achieved
  • Project Green Book Club: Achieved
  • Earth Week activities: Achieved
  • Green Hacks: Achieved
  • Succulent Planting Party and Mug Exchange: Achieved
  • Project Green Pulse Survey: Achieved
  • Influence green-living habit change in all employees, measured via a survey: In progress

Lead by Example With Customers and Vendors

  • Volunteer events: Achieved
  • Customer stories and highlights: Achieved
  • Create a strategy for engaging and empowering our customers who are already doing the environmental work: In progress

Technology and Sustainability 

While the plan has us energized to drive impact, we’re equally excited to deepen our sustainability efforts in the years to come. We know that one of the most significant factors contributing to our carbon footprint is the fact that we are a cloud-based company that uses a ton of energy from data centers. If we want to play a part in climate sustainability as a whole, we have to figure out our role in advocating for data centers to become more sustainable, says McElroy. 

Without a physical product or a material supply chain, we think a lot about the other technology companies like us that may have the same questions or feel like they have the same blockers. That’s why we’re charging ourselves with growing our community beyond just Project Green and looking at ways we can build more relationships with customers, B Corps, vendors, and sustainable businesses who can share their insights with us and offer new perspectives. 

Sustainability as an Employee Benefit

In speaking with Ali, who was elected as leader of Project Green by her peers for her commitment to the cause, attention to detail, and humble approach towards servant leadership, it’s easy to see how everyone can play a part in building a more sustainable future. Ali has witnessed how Project Green members have built confidence and influence through the community and grown into leadership roles at the company because of it. 

The most successful endeavors often start from the ground up, by the people who believe in an important cause. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the things we could be doing better to be more environmentally friendly or eco-conscious. If you are an employee at a company that doesn’t have an environmental group and wants to start one up, our advice to you is to start somewhere. While it can be intimidating, the greatest benefit we’ve seen is the ability to do the learning together. None of us are experts in this area but by taking the first step and diving in, you’ll sure learn fast.  

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