The Sunvestment Energy Group Blog

Leveraging Solar: An Innovative Way a Foundation can Invest for Impact

Posted by Ashley Paulsworth on Jan 10, 2017 3:28:01 PM

As a foundation director, you’re focused on the impact you can make with your foundation’s dollars. You work hard to select recipients who have both the greatest need and the most potential for successful implementation (AKA, the highest possible impact). 

What if you could leverage your donation dollars to an organization, with the knowledge that your investment today would lead to 3-5x that amount in operational cost savings over the next 20 years while simultaneously contributing in a sustainable way?

Sunvestment Energy Group has created an innovative program that does just that. SunvestmentCARES (Community Associations' Returns Enhanced with Solar) enables a non-profit organization to leverage the savings they can get by going solar so more of their budget can go to their core mission.

Through the SunvestmentCARES program, every $1 contributed to the building of an array for a non-profit will yield between $3-$5 of energy savings to that organization over time. No other capital asset project can offer this type of return while also providing the opportunity to source energy more sustainably!

Leverage2.jpgWe know foundations are charged with effectively directing donor dollars to make a difference, and we want to help make that job a little easier by providing a very low-risk gifting opportunity that greatly increases the net present value of the overall investment. We’re able to do this with the long-term savings generated when a non-profit can generate some or all of their energy needs through the free fuel from the sun.

How do we do it? Sunvestment Energy Group works with a select group of anchor investors who can fund an entire solar array project (or a portion of it). They allow community members and organizations to participate in the funding process, enabling the project to get financed in part with donations and/or with lower-cost loans, reducing the effective cost to the non-profit, which translates to more savings from solar. In addition, when local investors participate, they can earn attractive returns so more of the economic benefits of the project stay local. This innovative strategy brings more capital to solar projects on shorter timelines and at lower costs.

There are two primary paths to finance a solar array—a direct purchase or a power purchase agreement (PPA). Though both options are possible, most not-for-profit organizations elect to use the PPA, where a third party funds the project, becausFinancial_Analysis-1.pnge they can leverage tax incentives that bring down the actual out-of-pocket costs for installing the array. These third-party investors get paid as the not-for-profit purchases the energy from them over a fixed number of years.

If the $3-$5 return sounds too good to be true, see the included table for an example of the economics of a typical mid-sized commercial solar project with a non-profit group. Caption_for_3-5.jpg

While the costs for solar energy have declined dramatically in recent years, non-profit organizations typically cannot capture their ‘fair share’ of the created savings, because they cannot use the tax incentives directly. It is our core mission at Sunvestment Energy Group to use innovative, community-engaged investment approaches to maximize the savings non-profits can gain from solar.

We have successfully implemented this with several non-profits and municipal groups in the region who are already enjoying the benefits of their lowered electricity bills.

With strong marketing support and an online platform, SEG facilitates all aspects of an organization’s efforts to bring together the needed coalition of donors, investors, and project developers that will bring this project to life. In addition, our platform streamlines the process, keeps costs managed, and allows for full transparency for all.

Whether your area of interest is in education, healthcare, or food security, the non-profits you support can reduce their operating costs by generating their own electricity via solar. In fact, this report from The Solar Foundation shows well over half the schools in the country can save money by going solar, including 100% of schools in Hawaii and 98% of schools in New Jersey.

If you’re looking to make a greater impact with your dollars, consider a sustainable option with proven immediate and long-term outcomes. An investment in solar is almost certain to boost the impact of your donation dollars--let Sunvestment Energy Group be your solar investment guide.

Topics: Renewable Investment Opportunities, Solar for Non-Profits, impact investment

Search Blog

Blog Email Subscription

Subscribe to Email Updates