Fundraising and Grants

Finance Records

The success or failure of any solar project completely rests on the ability of you and your team to raise the financial capital necessary to make such an investment. It is best to start small, but most importantly to build your base of support and funding as you go along. Below are several fundraisers you can try at your school and grants you can apply for online. I believe one web page can serve as a helpful starting point, but cannot do justice to the immense task at hand. That’s why its important that you solicit not only money, but also the knowledge of the SSS leadership, successful student initiatives, and everyone from experts to sports team coaches in your community. Fundraising almost never begins smoothly, but as you move along, your successes build on top of each other. With enough time, you will reach your goal. Check out some of the ideas below to kick-start your fundraising campaign.

  1. Hold a coin drive: Place a jar or box in every classroom (or each homeroom class) with a flyer about your project on the front. Ensure every teacher gets an email about the event and makes a short speech for you if possible. Run announcements on your school’s PA system or bulletin, but most importantly, have some of your friends promote the drive in different classes and during lunch. For my solar project, I was able to raise $400 the first time, and $535 the second all from just a few coins and dollar bills per student!
  1. Hold a restaurant fundraising night: Find a restaurant that would be willing to donate a portion of the revenue from one night to your project. The proportion they’ll give you, usually ranges usually anywhere from 10 to 25%. That’s the easy part. Next, your main job will be to promote the event in several different ways. First, I’d recommend having some teachers offer extra credit. Believe me, it is a powerful motivator. Students for Solar School’s fundraising night at a local Mexican restaurant called Sea Casa, had a line that stretched around the entire building, and before the night was over the owners ran out of rice and beans! Second, create a Facebook event long in advance and be sure to have all your friends invite all their friends. You goal should be to create a buzz that “everyone” is going to your event! Finally, finish your promotion off with flyers, posters and announcements at school. We ended up making $626 (about 1 solar panel).

  1. Apply for grants: Grants are where the big money is! If you search online enough, you’ll find a grant that can be applicable to your project. A good place to start is your regional utility company, which often has funds available for renewable energy and energy education projects. Many corporations and nonprofits such as Patagonia or Greenopolis also offer grants. The most important thing is to ensure that you are eligible. If you need non-profit status you can usually use your school and their tax identifiable number.

  1. Pitch to local companies: Prepare a well-designed and easy to write page about your project that you can hand to business owners. Walk with a friend around to local shops (or make appointments with the managers) and ask the owners if they would be willing to sponsor your project. Beforehand try and think what publicity you can offer the company if they support you. Don’t ask for too much, and be confident in your presentation.

  1. Have a booth at community events: Earth day or a street fair is a great place to be recognized in your community! Prepare a booth usually with a table, an easy-up shade, and posters in front and behind you. Have a donation box, but mostly focus on talking to people and seeing if you can make helpful connections. By having a small booth at Earth Day, we were lucky enough to run into the CEO of Advanced Solar who was willing to install the solar panels on my high school for free!

Pitches to Local Businesses: Using a pitch pamphlet like the editable and downloadable one found here, you can approach the local businesses or corporate headquarters to ask for a donation. However before asking companies or even individuals for funds its important that the logistics involved in the actual transaction are figured out and agreed upon. Ask your school (or even better a booster club supporting you) for their tax-id number. This will allow entities to make a fully tax-deductible contribution to your solar panel project.

Grants: Try applying for a few of these online grants:

BP Solar Grants
Max Amount: $5,000

Campus Progress Action Grant
Max Amount: $5,000

Do Something Grants
Max Amount: $500

mtvU Grants
Max Amount: $1,000

Pay it Forward
Max Amount: $500

Spark Plug Foundation


5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel Barge  |  April 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    We’re going to work on this Adam. 🙂

  • 2. Kevin Murphy  |  August 11, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I love your mission! I’m looking to do the same. Keep up the good work!

  • 3. Tommy Hang  |  August 13, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Im Planning To Wok on This Too. Great Mission

  • 4. Shanti de Ruyter  |  October 14, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hey- Thanks for the great info
    Looking to start something like this in NP

  • 5. Jim Dare  |  June 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    We would like to help with your efforts to make more schools solar powered.

    We can help with Energy Analysis, handle the required paperwork for net metering aggreements, and alike. And help you apply for any grants for which you may qualify.

    Plus offer special non-profit purchasing and installation pricing. And handle the installation from inception to completion.

    My personal contact number is 805-985-0214.
    Jim Dare, Solar Consultant, Solar Universe Network.

    We really like what you are doing; to reduce carbon footprints,and make schools more energy independent.

    Call or email me anytime. So we can see how we can best serve your cause.




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