Start Your Own Campus Green Fund


The outlines offered here provide best practices and lessons learned in designing, managing, promoting, and evaluating campus green funds and their respective projects. Campus green funds create the financial means for promoting sustainability in all areas of higher education, including academics, operations, administration, and engagement. They help to expand knowledge of sustainability by providing educational and research opportunities to students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Green Fund Implementation Guide

How to Start a Green Fund on Your Campus

Green Funds 2.0: The Nitty-Gritty of Campus Sustainability Fund Management from the Ground Up

The State of Campus Green Funds

Designing and Implementing A Robust and Sustainable Campus Green Fund: Recommendations from Sustainability Officers

Green Funds: How Students Use Their Money to Build a Better Campus and Community

Green Fund Campaigns: Starting or Renewing Your Campus Green Fund

Engaging Your Target Audience through Annual Reporting

TGIF Deep Dive; Celebrating Anniversaries: Reflecting and Adapting within Campus Green Funds

Environmental Justice Grant Funding: Piloting Equity Efforts in Campus Green Funds

Visit our Campaign History page for background on TGIF at UC Berkeley.

What is a campus green fee?
  • A small amount ($5-10) from student fees allocated for sustainability projects. TGIF at UC Berkeley currently receives $8.00/student/semester from student fees, ~$400,000 per year.
  • Additional campus-based fee costs for sustainability projects.
What is a campus green fund?
A campus green fund is money available to members of the campus community for sustainability projects.
The money for the fund comes from campus green fees.
The money is awarded to recipients through grants.
Planning a Green Fund Campaign
  • Build campus partners
  • Choose your audience
  • Make sure the price is right for your campus
  • Tie the campaign to key issues
  • Create selling points
  • Evaluate possible challenges
  • Define method for evaluating success
Build Campus Partners
  • Co-sponsors and Allies: Find campus groups, departments, faculty and staff, and officials who will publicly support the referendum.
  • Grant project approval: Certain campus departments will eventually have to approve grant projects (Physical Plant, Office of Sustainability, Capital Projects)
  • Will they be on board if this passes? (They may have to supervise projects.)
The Price is Right: Is It? Fit Your Campus
  • Research your university’s current financial state. Are you a public university and your budget tied to the state budget? Are you private and tied to endowment? Not all campuses will have the same green fee price.
  • Research students’ current financial situations and willingness to pay for new services. If passed, the green fund should not be a "financial hardship" for students.
  • Would anyone be willing to match the students' fees? See if your college President, a campus department, alumni, or a corporate donor would match the students' fees, allowing you to lessen the fee amount.
Key Issues
  • To what issues do students give their support?
  • Are those issues going to be eligible for grants through this fund? If yes, then make sure these are the issues being publicized with this referendum.
Selling Points (SCPB)
  • Valuable natural resources
  • $$$ on campus utility and purchasing bills
  • Student jobs
  • Valuable leadership experience and green job skills for students
  • Collaboration and communication amongst students, faculty, and staff sustainable behavior
  • Campus groups, local businesses, and neighborhoods involved in implementation
Student-Driven Campaign
  • Write a referendum
  • Get the referendum on the elections ballot
  • Publicize the voting dates and educate the campus about the referendum
  • Student body votes YES or NO (Referendum needs majority vote)
  • Referendum must also receive institutional approval to be officially implemented
Getting a Referendum on the Ballot
Connect with the campus elections office and the student government
  • Find out when annual elections occur
  • How can you get a referendum on a ballot? Do you need signatures?
  • Many universities only allow campaigning during certain weeks
Learn the rule book and get creative!
Publicize the Brand
Connect with the campus elections office and the student government
  • Choose a catchy title and tagline
  • Invest in a logo. Use colors that stand out.
  • Publicize the brand at large events
  • Put the logo on stickers, decals, posters, banners
Referendum does NOT pass. Evaluate results:
  • How close was the vote?
  • Can you determine how your different audiences voted?
  • Publicize the brand at large events
  • Was there enough publicity and education? Are people not ready?
Green Fund Infrastructure
Referendum DOES pass. Next steps: What do you need for a successful green fund?
  • A decision-making body
  • A paid staff member/coordinator
  • Publicity and community outreach
  • Website and marketing tools
  • Grant applications
  • Archives
Grant Coordinator
(You can have the Coordinator be full time with the fund or split with another department.)
  • Acts as the face of the committee
  • Coordinates speaking at meetings and community outreach
  • Meets with project applicants and grantees
  • Runs trainings for committee members and new grantees
  • Project Management
  • Tracks the progress of grantees
  • Manages the books and other administrative tasks
  • Formulates and executes strategic initiatives for publicity
  • Provides institutional memory
Grant Applications
  • Abstract Submissions: These allow a committee to screen projects and ask the applicants questions or to make changes before the final applications are due.
  • Project Approvals: Projects need approvals from various campus entities
  • Metrics: Must be able to measure costs and benefits of a project- quantitative and/or qualitative metrics are required.
  • A preserve institutional knowledge and fund activity
  • Archive all applications, both awarded and non-selected
  • Archive all budget activity. Archives allow for the transparency of a fund and assist with the publication of the annual reports
  • Archive all decisions made by grant-making committee, especially amendments to the bylaws. Once a decision has been made, the coordinator can reference the archives, rather than keep asking the committee

Similar Green Initiative Programs

The name “The Green Initiative Fund” was first coined by UC Santa Barbara in 2006. Check out TGIF at other universities and colleges.

UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara
UC San Diego
California Student Sustainability Coalition