By Scott Alexander, Regional Director, North Carolina
Non-profits must continually look for ways to cut operational costs. The dreaded “overhead rate”, the metric many donors pay close attention to, needs to be as low as possible so that more money can be spent on programs and activities that benefit the community. While many non-profits have sustainability as a core value; most people assume that non-profits are much greener than they actually are. The reality is most non-profits are limited in their efforts to support a sustainable energy future due to the lack of financing.
Just as people are more likely to purchase goods produced by ethical and sustainable means, people want to support non-profit organizations that demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship and resilience. Good sustainability practices can increase growth and an organization’s reputation, all the while, reducing energy costs that directly affect overhead operational costs.
Here are three ways for non-profits in North Carolina to cut thousands from the operational budget and go green. Of course, Eagle Solar & Light can help you with any of these three ideas!
#3) Invest in LED lights: This is what we in the industry call “the low hanging fruit” because a small investment can go a long way in generating significant savings. Most people do not realize how much energy is consumed with just lighting- especially if you must illuminate a gymnasium such as organizations like the YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs.
By switching to LED lights, a customer can see savings of 50% or more on their annual lighting expenses. Additionally, With Duke’s Smart Saver program, you can get rebates back on LED lights and fixtures. Replacing just the inefficient phosphorous tubes, (and recycling them!) is the easiest and cheapest method, but in some cases its worth replacing the entire fixture. Since LED lights typically use less than half the power of traditional lights, savings begin as soon as they turn on. LED lights also have a life span ten to 25 times longer than your typical incandescent or fluorescent bulb, saving even more in maintenance.
#2) Use a Lease to Install Solar: The use of solar energy has become a wide-spread method for homeowners, businesses, and non-profits to lower operational costs with the use of supplemental power provided by solar energy. Non-profits and businesses alike are also harnessing the marketability of renewable energy initiatives either through a visible solar energy system on their roof, or through marketing and outreach programs. However, one constraint for most non-profits is the up-front cash generally needed for a solar energy system. For non-profits in North Carolina, a lease for a solar energy system can make more financial sense than an outright purchase. Why?
Because, a fair and transparent lease, held by a group that can monetize the tax benefit, allows a non-profit to also take advantage of the tax incentives via a lower lease payment. Eagle Solar & Light seeks to structure our leases to be less than non-profits’ annual energy savings, and coupled with the Duke Energy Rebate, that means solar energy becomes a cash-flow positive investment. In other words, no additional money out this year’s budget! With warranties to 25 years or more, that translates to years of savings plus the strong visual reminder that your organization is invested in being sustainable.
#1) VOLUNTEERS!!!!: All of us from the non-profit world know how important it is to have a diverse and engaged group of stakeholders that contribute time, expertise and yes, even resources. So, it should be no surprise that developing a pool of talented volunteers to help you accomplish your organization’s mission is critical for your bottom line and probably the best thing you can do for your organization. We at Eagle Solar & Light fully appreciate how important it is to volunteer and that is why you will find us volunteering with the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Black Warrior Riverkeepers, the Triangle YMCA, and other agencies that are doing good work in the communities that we live. And yes, it can indirectly help you go green!