PLATINUM2022

RE-volv

Building Community Through Solar

SAN FRANCISCO, CA   |  www.re-volv.org

Mission

RE-volv’s mission is to tackle climate change at the local level by empowering people to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in their communities, especially those that are often excluded from the benefits of the clean energy economy. At RE-volv, we believe that everyone can participate in building a clean energy future and in spreading the word about the benefits of solar energy. Our goal is to provide access to solar energy to nonprofits across the country that serve disadvantaged communities that otherwise could not go solar, while training the next generation of solar energy leaders in the process.

Ruling year info

2011

Executive Director

Andreas Karelas

Main address

5 THIRD ST SUITE 424

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

45-1035583

NTEE code info

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (S12)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Solar Seed Fund

Since 2011, through our nationwide network of Solar Ambassadors, we identify nonprofits serving LMI and BIPOC communities that could benefit from the cost savings of solar power and cover all the upfront costs of installing their solar systems. With our innovative solar financing model, our nonprofit partners immediately save on their electricity costs while their solar lease or Power Purchase Agreement payments contribute to a revolving fund we call the Solar Seed Fund. This fund then helps to pay for the next nonprofit’s solar system – a first-of-its-kind pay-it-forward model for solar energy.

Nonprofits go solar with RE-volv for no up-front costs and start saving at least 15% on their electric bills on day one. RE-volv is a trusted partner for the nonprofit that acts as the main point of contact and continues to provide all operations and maintenance services on an ongoing basis. To date, RE-volv has financed 44 nonprofit solar projects in 10 states, totaling 3.3 MW. These nonprofits collectively serve over 100,000 people in their communities. Our solar projects will save our nonprofit partners $18.7 million over the lifetime of the systems which they can put back into serving their mission, while avoiding 90,500 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.

100% of your donation to the Solar Seed Fund goes directly towards financing a solar project. Donations can be made directly on our website.

Population(s) Served
Multiracial people
People of African descent
Low-income people

Since 2011, RE-volv has been training and mobilizing volunteer college students to help nonprofits in their communities go solar through our Solar Ambassador Fellowship program. RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador Fellowship provides college students with professional development opportunities, including training in solar finance, policy, lead generation, customer service, event planning, communications, and community engagement. Through the fellowship, they develop hands-on project management experience bringing solar to a local nonprofit, as well as career mentoring with professionals in the field. During the Solar Ambassador Fellowship, students gain the skills needed to be competitive candidates for a variety of positions in the solar industry upon graduation

Population(s) Served
Adults
Adults
Students
Activists

Where we work

Awards

Inaugural Member - National Community Solar Partnership 2017

U.S. Department of Energy

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of contracts/purchase agreements that the organization holds for purchase of its products/services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Solar Seed Fund

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This figure represents the number of nonprofit Power Purchase Agreements and Solar Leases signed each year.

KwH of electricity saved due to the organization's services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Solar Seed Fund

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This figure represents the total kW of solar power that we've brought online for nonprofits. Number is cumulative, where 2021 shows the total number of kW we've bought online since our founding.

Number of trainees successfully carrying out desired practices at least once to appropriate problems

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Students

Related Program

Solar Seed Fund

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This figure represents the number student Solar Ambassadors that have been empowered through RE-volv to help bring solar to a community-serving nonprofit in their community. Number is cumulative.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Founded in 2011, RE-volv is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping other nonprofits nationwide go solar through the power of crowdfunding. Nonprofits currently face obstacles to going solar due to their ineligibility for the federal solar ITC and difficulties demonstrating their creditworthiness. This results in lack of access to the solar lease financing options that have been a key driver of both residential and commercial solar adoption.
RE-volv addresses this gap in the market by offering nonprofits an affordable solar lease financed by a crowdfunding-led revolving loan fund, along with providing training for community volunteers to conduct fundraising campaigns and launch their solar careers. Since its founding, RE-volv has crowdfunded solar projects for seventeen nonprofits, raising more than $1,000,000 from over 2,000 people in 38 states and 22 countries.
Over the Solar In Your Community Challenge performance period, we have met and exceeded our goals by securing nonprofit leasing agreements for 14 solar projects, with installations of 10 projects in 6 states totaling 110 kW of capacity complete. We are in discussions with an additional 60 nonprofits in 20 states that could be developed over the next two years, and estimate a projected long-term pipeline of over 11,000 projects totaling 163 MW.

Currently, RE-volv’s projects are funded on average by 10% revolving fund proceeds, 60% crowdfunding, and 30% foundations and corporate sponsors, ultimately generating an average 7% IRR. Because revolving fund proceeds will increase through compound interest as more projects are completed, the revolving fund will become self-sustaining after 100 projects are installed, enabling a new nonprofit solar project to be financed based solely on revolving fund proceeds every three weeks. This revolving fund is known as the “Solar Seed Fund.” With each new project, the fund grows faster, creating a positive feedback loop that grows exponentially. By continuing to leverage crowdfunding, corporate, and foundation donations, we will be able to scale up and complete even more projects even more quickly.

These projects, as well as future projects in the longer term, are made possible by RE-volv’s unique, self-sustaining financing model. The revolving Solar Seed Fund used by RE-volv to finance its leases is seeded through crowdfunding donations, and a percentage of the lease payments from each project is reinvested back into the fund for use in future solar projects. Through this model, the success of each nonprofit project drives a virtuous cycle that enables RE-volv to support more campaigns, increase contributions to each successive campaign, and to support itself financially.

RE-volv has also mobilized corporate donors to support its community-based solar projects. For example, Starbucks has donated $25,000 to finance one project, and RE-volv is exploring similar partnerships with Google, Amazon, and Apple. Solar equipment manufacturers including Jinko Solar and ABB have also donated solar panels and inverters. Currently, along with foundation support, these corporate donations of funding and equipment have covered about 30% of RE-volv project costs, although this is expected to decline as revolving fund revenues increase.

Foundation support plays and will continue to play an important role in the scalability of RE-volv’s financing model. For example, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Clif Bar Family Foundation, First Solar, Patagonia, the Neda Nobari Foundation, and the Joseph and Vera Long Foundation, among others, have all supported RE-volv over multiple years and will continue to do so.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation played a particularly important role during the Solar In Your Community Challenge, offering matching funds for 5 out of the 10 projects, and spreading the word about our work. While our crowdfunding campaigns usually take 6 weeks to complete, thanks to a tweet from Leonardo DiCaprio on the launch day of the Faith Baptist Church campaign (an African- American church in East Oakland), we raised nearly $15,000 and completed the campaign that afternoon.

RE-volv has developed a robust financial model to project realistic future growth over the next 20 years. The base case scenario is modeled on RE-volv’s actual growth to date; the Moderate and High Growth Scenarios reflect successful execution of the marketing efforts, program enhancements and national partnerships.

Tapping into New Financing Sources and Unlocking New Geographic Markets RE-volv’s innovative model unlocks the potential of crowdfunding, a potent new source of financing, to serve a nonprofit solar market that is currently not served by the solar lease industry. Worldwide, donation-based crowdfunding for all causes generated $5.5 billion in 2017, more than doubling its total in 2015. RE-volv itself has seen its donations increase dramatically, growing from crowdfunding $15,000 in 2013 to crowdfunding $172,000 in 2018.

The opportunity to raise even more funds through crowdfunding to fight climate change by financing solar energy projects is enormous, as over 71% of millennials have fundraised for a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign and 81% of millennials believe in global warming. And, while crowdfunding solar projects has been attempted with various models - including allowing investors to lend money to specific solar projects and raising donations and giving solar equipment to nonprofits for free - RE-volv is the first and only nonprofit in the U.S. that provides crowdfunded solar financing to other nonprofits through a revolving fund.

RE-volv’s model also puts it in a unique position to pioneer solar in untapped markets, thanks to lower overhead costs, grant funding, and access to capital at below-market rates. Moreover, RE-volv’s revolving fund can distribute proceeds from high-return projects (such as our projects in California) to effectively subsidize lower-return projects in states with a less-favorable environment for solar projects. As noted above, we have proven this with successful projects for nonprofits in states like Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, and we are in discussions to develop projects for nonprofits in other less-established solar markets.

Total Aggregate Capacity: 110 kW

Reach: 10 nonprofits serving 30,000 people

Value: 30% average savings on customer utility bills

Cost-Effectiveness: Average installed system cost of $2.15 per Watt

In our initial application, we set impact goals for the performance period of:
• Completing at least 10 nonprofit solar projects
• Securing $300,000 of private capital to execute projects
• Training at least 50 college students and community leaders to spearhead projects

In the 18 months through October 2018, we met or exceeded all of these goals, signing lease agreements with 14 nonprofit organizations for 204 kW of aggregate capacity, with 10 projects totaling 110 kW of aggregate capacity installed by the end of the performance period. These projects are spread across six states, including both established solar markets like California and relatively new solar markets like Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Moreover, we trained over 250 Solar Ambassadors that have helped to raise over $330,000 in crowdfunding donations, foundation and corporate donations, and equipment donations. We achieved an average cost per watt of $2.15, ranging from a low of $1.11 per Watt on a project for Harbor House in Oakland, CA to a high of $4.46 per Watt on a project for the River Revitalization Foundation in Milwaukee, WI.
The value of these projects to our nonprofit customers also met or exceeded our initial projections of 15% first-year electricity cost savings. At the low end, our project for Mission of Mary in Dayton, OH led to 15% first-year savings, and at the high end our Faith Baptist Church project in Oakland, CA resulted in 50% first-year savings, for an average of 30% savings (or $4,300 annually per nonprofit) across all 10 projects completed. These savings are expected to grow over time, and at the end of the 20-year lease period the nonprofits will own their systems.
Of course, the impact of these projects ultimately also includes allowing nonprofits to better achieve their missions. These 10 nonprofits will collectively save half of a million dollars on their electricity bills, thanks to solar. By freeing up funds previously spent on energy, these solar installations will help them to better serve the 30,000 people that currently benefit from their services, and expand their programs to increase the number of people they serve.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

RE-volv
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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RE-volv

Board of directors
as of 10/14/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Michael Spiegelman

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/3/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Greek-American
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/14/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.