How Nonprofits are Using Solar to Make a Difference

By July 15, 2016solar
Nonprofits turning to solar energy.

Nonprofit organizations are embracing solar in a variety of ways that both further their mission and help them save on overhead costs. Here’s a look at how the solar energy industry and nonprofits are working together.

A Sunny Outlook for Fundraising

Nonprofits need to fundraise to survive and over the years creative approaches to raising funds have emerged showing how for-profit businesses and nonprofits can work together. You may have seen restaurants that hold fundraising nights for a school or nonprofit group, where the restaurant donates a certain percentage of the sales from a designated night to the group.

Now, some nonprofit groups are using crowdfunding strategies to start solar “seed funds” and raise the money they need for an solar panel installation.  

A New Mission

Nonprofit organizations that work on issues like poverty, housing, and unemployment are embracing solar energy as a tool to help their missions.

The nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives uses solar energy to address income inequality in two ways: installing solar panels in low-income communities in the United States and Nicaragua that will help lower energy costs for residents, and training and employing members of those communities to install the systems.

“We are similar to any mid-size solar installation company, except we only install for people who may not be able to install otherwise,” said Erica Mackie, GRID Alternatives co-founder and CEO.

The program seems to have taken off. Since its founding in 2001, GRID Alternatives has trained 26,000 people on how to install solar systems, preparing them for careers in a growing field. Each year the group handles thousands of system set ups.

Each year brings an even bigger demand for residential and commercial solar installation and more need for employees who know how to install, sell, and service them. To keep up with demand and help decrease unemployment, the federal Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy partners with career centers and organizations to offer job training to help people get into the field of solar energy.

Saving Overhead

For resource-strapped nonprofits, a switch to solar makes good financial sense. Many cities and towns have implemented large solar projects that cut back energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Nonprofit organizations can do the same thing on a smaller scale to cut operational costs.

If the logistics of running a capital campaign to install solar has held your nonprofit back, it’s time to reexamine the costs. Solar technology is becoming increasingly more efficient and less expensive to produce, resulting in better return on investment and shorter payback periods. There are also favorable financing plans that help spread out upfront installation costs.

By cutting energy expenses, sometimes dramatically, precious resources are freed up to contribute to your mission.

Interested in how installing solar panels on your roof can help you drive your electric bill down to zero? Contact us for a free quote.