The Gift That Keeps on Giving: 8 Nonprofits and the Environment Get Lucky

By AlexiusHoratius (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

September 13, 2017; Daily Hampshire Gazette

Yesterday, NPQ published a newswire that highlighted the importance of local cultures of giving. Today’s story today reinforces that; Northampton is a small hub of countercultural thinking and progressive action with a signature blend of creativity and seriousness, and so we get efforts like this one.

In Western Massachusetts, eight lucky nonprofits will be sporting solar panels this fall after a local family donated $400,000 to fund and install them. To make the whole picture even better, Northeast Solar, a local business, is building and installing the systems, thus keeping the money in the local economy. Northeast Solar is chipping in, too, by footing the installation labor costs.

The types of organizations represent a range of interests, including Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), the Amherst Survival Center, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, the Grove Street Inn homeless shelter in Northampton, Historic Northampton, Peace Development Fund in Amherst, Prospect Meadow Farm in Hatfield, and ServiceNet in Northampton.

The cash will eventually accrue to the organizations because it is estimated that the nonprofits will save $500,000 in operating costs over time. Additionally, the measure is expected to reduce local carbon emissions by more than 1 million pounds over the next 30 years.

Greg Garrison, who runs Northeast Solar, says the family, who are longtime acquaintances, will remain anonymous. He says they used the Northampton Survival Center as a “pilot project” to test the concept, which stipulates the donors will retain ownership of the center’s solar power system for five years. This allows the donors to receive tax credits that can be used to fund the same work at other organizations. After five years, ownership of the systems will be handed to the nonprofits.

Philip Korman, executive director of CISA, calls it a “revolving fund of sorts.” Either way, this will surely keep Northeast Solar busy installing one system a week so that all of them are built before winter sets in.—Ruth McCambridge