March 8, 2019

Energy nonprofit uses solar crowdfunding to empower other nonprofits

Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards, a program of The Atlantic and Allstate. Five winners will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate.

Editor’s note: Meet the finalists for 2019 The Renewal Awards. The annual program that honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities is a project of The Atlantic and Allstate. This year, five winners each will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate. Winners will be announced April 3 at The Renewal Summit in New York City. You can watch a live stream of the event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, on our Facebook page.

RE-volv is a nonprofit focused on bringing renewable energy to other nonprofits. It’s a simple idea, though requires a lot of moving parts. And the impact? Huge.

Founded in 2011, the original idea for the organization came out of frustration about wanting to tackle the issue of climate change and seeing limitations at the federal government level. As solar became a more affordable option, crowd-funding also emerged as a useful tool for nonprofits. Andreas Karelas combined the two and founded RE-volv.

The organization works as a marketplace where people can identify the nonprofits who want or need solar energy and then run the crowd-funding campaign on the RE-volv website to pay for the installation.

[ Read: Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards ]

Nonprofits then are able to pay back funders once their solar panels are up and running and saving them money. This means that the return on investment from one project can then help fund the next projects. The solar panels then help the nonprofits continue saving money for years to come.

“The nonprofits we solarize, who save money on their electricity bills through solar energy, can use that money to better serve their constituents, whether that’s more beds for the homeless or food for the hungry,” said Karelas, who now serves as Executive Director of RE-volv.

So far, the organization has successfully funded 17 different solar installation projects in six different states and saved an estimated 10,658,650 pounds of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere.

The organization also focuses on education. More than 200 students from 11 different college campuses have completed the Solar Ambassador Fellowship Program.

So what’s next? RE-volv plans to expand its program into more states, so it can continue to educate people.

“We know there are still a lot more people out there who could benefit from getting involved,” said Karelas. “One of our big focuses this year is to share our stories with a larger audience and let more people know how they can take action to fight climate change and bring clean energy to their communities.”

Follow RE-volv on Twitter @RE_volv. Donate to the nonprofit here.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the deputy editor of The Renewal Project.