March 4, 2010
With social media providing a new toolset for non-profits, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the problems in the world – daily tweets about the environment, poverty, hunger, etc. But the tools are also providing inspiration for a new breed of non-profits who are seeking to create longer-term, self-sustaining solutions.
ChannelYourEnergy.org is exactly that – a new non-profit organization providing long term solutions to humanitarian emergencies. Their mission is to utilize funds donated by businesses and individuals to create the world’s largest charitable solar array. Each donation packs a double-punch: 100% of the funds go to building a solar array that will provide utility -grade renewable energy in the US (and eventually beyond) while also providing a continuous flow of funds for their stated global charities for the life of each array which is ~30+ years. It’s the green-gift that keeps on giving.
Here’s how it works.
- Using their interactive map, I choose the location of the solar cells I want to sponsor, fill out all the donation info and add a photo or logo that I want to appear on the map where my donated cells are located. It then shows me how much power my donation will provide (see image below) and how many lbs of CO2 are saved each year – and I can monitor its performance over time.
- The solar arrays provide a steady funding source for a number of selected causes that provide global humanitarian help such as clean drinking water, food, electricity and micro-loans. A list of their current causes is here.
There are a few limitations right now. For example, you can’t just pick any random spot on the globe to build your solar cells. It’s currently a virtual array, and they will select sites for their solar efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The interactive Google Map is a nice touch though. And some of the features mentioned on the site haven’t been fully implemented at the time of this posting, such as the ability for individuals and companies to create their own campaigns (solar panels will be named after their organizations) as well as offering solar enthusiasts a place to set up their own blogs to help raise awareness about the project. But the important, fundamental giving pieces are in place.
ChannelYourEnergy.org was conceived by Rob Powell and is managed with Chris Frothingham, both the founders of renewable energy services firm Verde Energy. Completing the team is Ovid Stavrica, the founder of BattleCell (a multi-player gaming site) who leads the technical development. According to Rob, the project has been a labor of love, with much of the team volunteering their efforts. The team has aggressive goals around growth, operating efficiency, improving the site’s community aspects and utilizing online and offline social networks to move the needle.
If you’re interested in helping, you can donate today , follow the team on Twitter @solarcharity or even create a video (or write a song!) showing your support for solar power and upload it to their YouTube channel. Their Facebook application is currently in beta and you can find them within the Facebook Causes application. And there will be more options for sure coming down the pike.
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