Schools could boost fundraising income and community engagement through solar crowdfunding model


Research published today by carbon cutting campaign 10:10 has revealed the potential of Solar Schools, the innovative solar crowdfunding programme it runs, to inspire wider behaviour change in communities. 

Independent research funded by NESTA shows that the programme made people think more positively about renewable energy, while other research also published today, showed 35% of people who donated to Solar Schools said they would be more likely to get involved with other community projects as a result and the same proportion said the crowdfunding website encouraged them to give more.  

Solar Schools, which is run by 10:10 and supported this year by 100% renewable electricity company Good Energy, helps schools raise funds to buy and install their own solar panels, reduce their energy bills and teach children about climate change. At its heart is an innovative customisable crowdfunding website (solarschools.org.uk) which allows parents, businesses and others to donate virtual panels to fundraising schools and follow their fundraising progress online.

Solar Schools also today revealed the 15 schools that have been successful in gaining a place on this year’s programme, and that will receive the free training, tools and support to help them run their own solar crowdfunding campaign. To date, the 50 schools already participating in the project have raised more than £400,000 to buy solar panels and it expects to reach more than half a million pounds this academic year.

Amy Cameron, Solar Schools Campaign Manager, 10:10 said:

“These findings are a ringing endorsement of the value of the work we’re doing with schools across the country. Bringing a community together to raise the cost of solar panels for their school is a powerful way of cutting carbon emissions, supporting school budgets, changing attitudes to renewable energy and teaching communities new skills. The research shows that the crowdfunding approach we’re using has additional benefits, enhancing the connection with donors and boosting the amount raised. There’s a great opportunity here for many more schools and community organisations to look at what crowdfunding can do for them.”

 Good Energy CEO and founder, Juliet Davenport OBE, said:

“Good Energy is proud to support Solar Schools. Our vision is to create a safer, greener Britain and Solar Schools has that in buckets. Education, community and sustainability all working hand in hand. Bringing sunshine into our classrooms.”

 Independent researcher Ruth Clarke evaluated the scheme for 10:10 in a study funded by NESTA. She concluded it: “encourages more and new people to donate, and increases likelihood of donating in the future.”

“The website was deemed critical to the crowdfunding approach. It gave credibility and transparency to fundraising, and continual updates encouraged viewers to visit repeatedly.”

“The success of the Solar Schools projects made some people more positive about fundraising and donating in the future.”

 Her research also found “strong evidence that the Solar Schools project made some people think more positively about renewable energy… fundraising and donating engendered a great sense of ownership of the panels”.

The findings were backed up by a survey published today conducted in March 2014 by 10:10 of 238 online donors to Solar Schools which found that 35% of donors would be more likely to get involved in a community project as a result of engaging with the project.  In addition, it found:

·         35% said the website encouraged them to give more (18% disagreed)

·         32% said the ability to give online increased their trust in the project (9% disagreed)

·         56% said it made them more likely to tell people about the project (11% disagreed)

·         70% said it made them feel part of a community of supporters (15% disagreed)

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