January 2011: Corporations give back

Among the heartening developments for SELF in 2010 was a pronounced rise in corporate giving to our work. Whether donating funds, equipment or services, companies inside and outside the solar industry supported SELF in an encouraging variety of ways:

In-kind donations: SolarWorld wanted to help SELF electrify clinics in Haiti after the earthquake. SELF board member and actor Larry Hagman offered to reprise his J.R. Ewing role for the company’s advertising, and the results not only included the acclaimed “Shine, baby, shine” ad campaign, but also a donation to SELF of 100 kilowatts of solar panels. (The terrific ads can be seen at solarworld-usa.com.)

Cash grants: NRG Energy made a $1-million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to bring clean energy to Haiti after the earthquake, and SELF was honored to be selected by the company to fulfill this pledge. Similarly, ExxonMobil granted funds through its Women’s Economic Opportunities Initiative to help us replicate our solar-powered drip irrigation project’s success in enabling women farmers in Benin to earn income and achieve food security. Johnson & Johnson, a regular supporter, sought our special help for the Nyumbani orphanage in Kenya.

Community Energy contributed funds to purchase solar equipment for a clinic and other installations in our Whole Village program in Benin. CEO Brent Alderfer explained the gifts, saying “Community Energy is on a mission to build a clean energy future here in the US. Supporting SELF’s efforts in Benin is a natural extension of our work, and we are proud to help make a difference that will better the lives of West Africans for years to come.” Other civic-minded companies donated a percentage of their profits to SELF (e.g., Lightlife Foods), purchased their carbon offsets through us (e.g., New Society Publishers), contributed through their corporate foundations (e.g., Sunpower and Alstom) or matched their employees’ gifts (e.g., Google and Microsoft).

Services: Regular supporter Dow Corning, in addition to making a supplemental gift for our post-earthquake work in Haiti, also donated the services of its public relations agency, APCO Worldwidewhich then matched its client’s gift to double the time it could give to SELF.

Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes. We are so pleased to earn these and other companies’ support; their creative generosity is a beacon to us all.

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