Non-Profits Get Boost from “SunRaising” Initiative

Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Entrepreneurship, Non-Profit

solarcityJSolarCity is the nation’s largest solar provider. Among the reasons for that are some of their innovative, community-oriented programs, like their GivePower Foundation which provides a free solar system and battery to a school without electricity for every MW of solar that they install. Through interactions with some of the communities they work in, they came to realize an opportunity for shared value in a cooperative venture with various non-profits. This gave rise to the SunRaising initiative, which allows non-profits to raise money for their own operations while, at the same time, acting as ambassadors, for SolarCity.

The ways this works is that when non-profits sign up to participate, SolarCity provides materials and information and connects them with their local SolarCity energy consultant, who will help facilitate the process. For each system that gets installed under the program, the non-profit receives $200 in cash.

So far, more than 100 nonprofit organizations—including food banks, hospitals, booster clubs, community centers, schools and recreational groups—have joined and made referrals under the SunRaising program, raising thousands of dollars in the process. The solar energy systems resulting from these referrals are projected to offset approximately 60,000 metric tons of carbon compared to energy produced from fossil fuels. In addition, the program has helped more than 400 homeowners take the first steps towards going solar.

New York’s Riverkeeper was among the first to participate in the program. In reference to their longstanding concern over the proximity of the Indian Point nuclear plant to such a large metropolis, Paul Gallay, Riverkeeper’s president said, “One of the greatest threats to the Hudson is an aging nuclear power plant. So, not only does SolarCity lower New Yorker’s energy bills, but when consumers opt for solar, it plays an integral part in replacing the power from this harmful plant and others like it.”

Another participant, Desert Sands Educational Foundation, a Southern California nonprofit focused on strengthening public education, also found synergy in their involvement. SunRaising has been a great way to promote clean energy and receive funds to support the students of Desert Sands Unified School District,” said foundation board member Jan Diaz. The foundation has already made 20 referrals to SolarCity, through a combination of word of mouth and social media promotions.

Jon Carson, SolarCity’s Senior Director of Solar Ambassadors, is the former Executive Director of Organizing for Action. He spoke with Justmeans about this program and how it differs from their existing ambassador program.

“Sunraising makes it easier for a non-profit. The process, the sign-up form, is more geared to a non-profit and will connect one of our energy consultants who might have an organizing background. For example, the consultant working with Paul at Riverkeeper, is a former environmental organizer himself.”

“What we did with Riverkeeper, is we organized a solar party, right at Paul’s home. With a lot of our sports booster clubs, with set up a booth or a table at the games. That, along with our website, are the two biggest things.”

SolarCity is currently working with a number of solar panel manufacturers, which gives customers a choice of modules, should they have a preference. But as the company completes their 1.2 million square foot manufacturing facility in Buffalo, NY, they will eventually be providing their own solar panels.

The whole company is excited to be bringing solar to families across the country, and doing it in partnership with local non-profits that are already doing such good. It’s a win-win-win.”

Image courtesy of SolarCity

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RP Siegel

RP Siegel, PE, is an author, inventor and consultant. He has written for numerous publications ranging from Huffington Post to Mechanical Engineering. He and Roger Saillant co-wrote the successful eco-thriller Vapor Trails. RP sees it as his mission to help articulate and clarify the problems and challenges confronting our planet at this time, as well as the steadily emerging list of proposed solutions. His uniquely combined engineering and humanities background help to bring both global perspective and analytical detail to bear on the questions at hand. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he attended the World Future Energy Summit as the winner of the Abu Dhabi blogging competition.

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