Guest post by Jason H. Parker

How much do you know about electronics recycling?

Think about this before you Google it, and I’ll bet you’re in roughly the same place I was just four weeks ago.

Turns out (when you research, beyond your first Google result) that “electronics recycling” (or ecycling, for short), isn’t as socially friendly as you’d believe.

Image: Leo Reynolds via Flickr, CC 2.0

Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent

of our donations to electronic recycling programs is exported to developing nations ranging from Ghana to China.

And once there, the e-waste is often disposed of improperly, if at all.

Toxic byproducts (including mercury, lead and dioxins) are produced when women in China, Ghana, or other countries to which America exports its e-waste, burn and cook down motherboards to procure the trace amounts of gold contained within them.

But what if

What if there was a program dedicated to refurbishing electronic equipment that didn’t export their donations abroad and hope for the best?

And then, what if I told you that the program helped DC’s under-served populations acquire key job skills and earn a living wage?

And what if this organization ran as a 501(c)3 nonprofit but didn’t require additional grant funding? That it was fully self-sufficient, end-to-end?

That’s three levels of sustainability, and a program that is successfully creating social change in a truly sustainable manner, running a triple bottom line.

This program is eCycle DC, a program launched through partnership agencies.

How did I get involved?

The project coordinator asked me for my help. About three weeks ago, I took a short-term gig as the Media Coordinator for the program, and have helped garner attention from DC’s media and blogger community.

Then, we attracted Change.Org, and they’ve helped us take up the cause.

As I write this, over 10,000 people have signed the petition, and you could be next when you click here.

How did we gain so much traction so quickly?

We used social media and leveraged the triple-bottom line of the organization to promote the program and event.

In three easy steps, here’s what I did to ensure the program had a social presence.

1. Chose ONE engagement strategy and use it effectively.

We chose Twitter (you can follow us @ecycle_dc) as our main engagement strategy.

We had our team research key influencers in the media and in the DC community, and conducted outreach directly through our channel.

2. Attracted affinity partnerships.

Our team already had great relationships, and we started to leverage them. This is how we received a large donation from Avectra, an early proponent of our program.

3. Effective follow up.

We personally thanked everyone who has helped us. If they engaged with us on Twitter, we publicly thanked them as well.

We want people to know they’ve helped make a difference.

Yet my job is not finished. We need more help.

We need your help.

If you believe in the triple-bottom line of this program, you’re a great advocate for us.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Donate surplus electronic equipment.

Our event, Thursday, March 17, 2011, will be held from 7am-6pm at the CCNV Shelter (425 2nd St. NW, DC). To arrange large donations, contact project manager Rose Bottle.

2. Donate money to support the program.

We suggest a donation of $20.11 to honor eCycle DC 2011, but every little bit helps.

You can donate easily to WildTech, a partner that manages our donations.

3. Spread the word!

We’d really appreciate if you take just 10 minutes of your time and share this information with your networks.

Have contacts at large companies? Could you get them to donate?

We’d really appreciate it!

Jason H. Parker is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for BrazenCareerist.Com, a professional networking community for career-oriented professionals and freelance entrepreneurs. He lives in DC and in his spare time consults for nonprofits on successful partnership and engagement strategies across new media channels. When he’s not building partnerships for organizations, he’s on the Ultimate Frisbee field and volunteering for the Washington Area Frisbee Club. To contact Jason, click here.