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If there was ever a pursuit that people either love or hate, it’s raising money. If you are in the former group, give thanks. Fundraising is almost always about more than the dollars themselves. It is a first-rate opportunity to define and get in touch with your constituency, tell your story, test and build support. The skills you build along with the bank account include strategy, coordination, education, sales and leadership. If you have fundraising experience professionally or in other groups, it will come in handy in a huge way in your Task Force. And if you are looking for new members with helpful skills, don’t forget the value of skill and courage in raising those resources.

Before you even think about fundraising, there are two steps you should be sure to take: getting clear on your workplan and what you need money for, and getting clear on your budget.

Your operating budget may be provided by the local government that formed your group, in which case you can focus on funding for the next solar array. If you do need to raise operating funds, there are plenty of sources of funding for the work on your plate:

  • Special events, from film showings to road races to an annual dinner or concert
  • A silent auction, either live or online, selling donated goodies to the highest bider
  • Holding a raffle at someone else’s event
  • Canvassing/ tabling in the community, which is a good way to combine education with fundraising
  • A service event such as a bike tuneup and repair training day, or a swap meet with an entrance fee
  • Online donation platforms such as Indiegogo, which are structured to let you advertise “perks” for givers at specified levels
  • Donation cans in public places
  • Small grants, including those from Connecticut’s incentive programs and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund (designed for non-incorporated “coffee-table” groups
  • Program revenues – for example, a signature training program that your group can offer based on its members’ expertise, or an annual conference produced on a shoestring with some financial sponsors to be revenue-positive.
  • And of course, if you are an official arm of local government, you should be eligible for a line in the town budget, however modest.

If you are a governmental organization, some of these may be off limits by the rules of your town, so check before you get excited about any particular strategy.

More and more Connecticut Clean Energy Task Forces are taking fundraising to a higher level by actually participating with their towns’ efforts to secure ZRECs and LRECs for solar projects, create performance contracts for energy savings, and promote C-PACE loans for capital improvements to local businesses and institutions. Clean energy funding is competitive and demanding, but the successes statewide are evidence that it is quite do-able. Often, with state incentives, private developers are willing to support renewable energy projects as power purchase agreements. Major project funding may come from local bonds, the state’s Green Bank, federal sources such as the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Commerce or Department of Agriculture, or from equity financing from commercial investors. If you are new to this world, stick to the most effective local development staffer you can find, or seek out members of other Task Forces for guidance.

Whatever the scale, fundraising is a form of sales. You are selling the value of your work and offering members of the community the chance to be part of it. The best results will come to you, then, when you believe in that value and have found a good way to talk about it; and when the fundraising strategy engages people meaningfully as supporters for a specific outcome (from sponsoring the conference lunch to supporting the first KW of solar panels on the school). Like other forms of sales, fundraising works better on the foundation of a good marketing campaign to get your work recognized in a positive light in the community – for example, in the media or by briefing influential citizens who will spread the word. And like any sales, fundraising requires the specific skill of closing – asking for a commitment, and if you get a “no,” then exploring why, so you can convert that no to a yes in due time. “Selling without being sales-y” is easiest when you believe in what you are representing, and you are comfortable with the people you are approaching. If your group is building these skills, it’s worthwhile to work in teams so that members can back each other up and also offer each other feedback. And if you are motivated enough, consider taking a sales training as a group. You won’t be the first.

Resources

 

Community Updates

WOODSTOCK’S NEW 1MW SOLAR ARRAY
PROJECTED TO SAVE OVER 2.4 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS

Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release

HES COPAY PRICE INCREASE

In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More

 

 

Calendar Highlights

FALL GATHERING

HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

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Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

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