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In This Season of Giving Consider Renewable Energy Charities

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle: shopping, decorating, parties, and preparation. Our to-do lists can seem endless, but we carry on because it is that special time of year, a season of giving.

We here at would like you to take a few brief minutes out of your hectic schedule to consider those that are less fortunate, and the organizations that believe the season of giving doesn't end after the holidays, but lasts all year long. 

A special thanks goes out to our Twitter followers who took the time to recommend their favorite non-profits for this piece. Be sure to check out the last page for all of their suggestions, and please feel free to leave your own personal favorites in the comments below. 

Don't forget to take a look at our 2012 list here.


Philippines Support 

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines one month ago, affecting nearly 12 million people and killing more than 6,000. Today, many people are still sitting in the dark and utilities say that some power plants may not be fully repaired for an entire year.

What better way to help victims than giving them the gift of light.

One Million Lights Philippines

One Million Lights Philippines provides solar-powered lights to rural, off-grid communities, but the organization is now also shipping lights to Typhoon Haiyan victims. Established in 2010 by three high school students, One Million lights began shipping solar power to impoverished communities in the Philippines in 2011.

The organization hopes to curb climate change and lower energy expenses by helping communities switch from oil to solar. Today, hundreds of student volunteers have worked to ship more than 5,000 lights and impact more than 30,000 Filipinos.

Donate directly to the cause here, or even buy you own solar light — One Million Lights will send one light to the Philippines with each purchase.

The Solar Energy Foundation: Philippines

“Without light, relief work stops. We are helping relief workers in disaster areas by equipping them with solar lights and charging.” The Solar Energy Foundation is also working to bring solar energy to rural Philippines, but it is now shifting its focus to relief support.

The Solar Energy Foundation is working with on-the-ground relief organizations in the hardest-hit areas of Typhoon Haiyan, starting in Tacloban, Ormoc, Iloilo, Roxas City, and Busuanga. The organization is providing solar-powered lighting, charging, and communication to support partner organizations that are trying to navigate the disaster and help bring Filipinos to safety. These relief organizations include: Red Cross, Peace and Equity Foundation, TaosPuso Foundation, Life Bank Foundation, Iloilo-CODE, CCT, and CARD.

Each $50 donation immediately deploys one lamp to help these organizations; donate here. Follow relief updates here.


WE CARE SOLAR is another organization working to aid relief efforts. A 2013 CNN Hero, founder Dr. Laura Stachel is bringing her “Solar Suitcases” to those in need of medical attention in the Philippines. Stachel originally created the kits to promote healthy, safe childbirth in rural communities.

The Solar Suitcase is a portable medical kit that includes LED lighting, a universal cell phone charger, battery charger, and outlets for 12-Volt DC devices – all of which is powered with its 40- or 80-Watt solar panels and a 12-amp-hour sealed lead-acid battery. 

According to its website, Solar Suitcase features include: 

  • Whole System Integration: The lighting appliances and power production components are delivered as one unit, designed for daily use.
  • Safety: The sealed batteries can safely be stored inside health facilities; the low-voltage DC system avoids shock hazard and includes overcurrent protection.
  • Simplicity: One switch turns on the system; another turns on lights and charges devices. The system is plug-and-play and can be installed without need for an experienced solar technician.
  • Expandability: The 15-amp modular system is designed for expansion and can accommodate up to 200 Watts of solar panels and a 140 amp-hour sealed battery.

Donate through the CNN Heroes website and Subaru will match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. 

Solar Suitcase image: Doc Ted Esguerra preparing to bring a Solar Suitcase for humanitarian relief efforts in Kananga and Tacloban.  Credit: The Solar Energy Foundation.


Non-Profits that Help Non-Profits — Double Win

Everybody Solar

Efficient spending, easy breathing

U.S.-based Everybody Solar helps bring solar to communities in need. The organization works to put solar on local charities in order to cut their electricity costs, which helps them put their funding where it is needed most: the community.

Its latest project aims to help Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif., a charity that provides job training for former gang members to prevent recidivism. Homeboy Industries’ electricity bill currently stands at around $500 a month, so solar can help the organization save thousands each year. 

Everybody Solar partnered with Grid Alternatives to install the project and rock band Trapdoor Social to help raise money for the 5- to 10-kW system. So far, the project has reached about half of its $20,000 goal.

You can help support Everybody Solar here. You can also support the Homeboy Industries project specifically by donating on Pledge Music here (and get some great music in return). 

Black Rock Solar

“Instead of funding coal, we’re funding families.”

With offices in Nevada and California, Black Rock Solar focuses on providing solar energy systems for non-profit entities and underserved regions. It narrows its focus further on rural and tribal communities.

Established in 2007, Black Rock Solar has installed more than 3 GW of solar on 60 separate arrays. It was also crucial in the success of America’s Solar Highway (Nevada Highway 447), which has more distributed solar per mile than any other highway in the U.S. Black Rock installed several systems for Native American communities along the highway.

In addition to its solar installation work, Black Rock Solar is committed to education. It conducts field trips to many of its arrays so students can have a hands-on solar learning experience. It recently won a $2,000 matching grant for this work, and must raise another $2,000 by December 31st  to receive the money.

Donate here to help Black Rock Solar achieve its goals. 


Building Sustainable Communities

Renewable World

Our work transforms lives.

Reminiscent of our recent Solar Project of the Year winners, Renewable World works to bring renewable energy to remote communities where “financial or geographical barriers prevent private sector solutions being effective.”

It specifically tailors each project by partnering with other appropriate organizations, companies and entrepreneurs so that it not only brings power to these communities, but also education, income, governance, health and more.

Renewable World projects are built on six layers of support:

  1. Technical analysis and development
  2. Social investment and financing
  3. Strengthening governance and institution building
  4. Ensuring sustainable and scalable impacts
  5. Community development and ownership models
  6. Business model development and cash flow analysis

Its ultimate goal is to alleviate poverty and create a successful, sustainable community, whether it’s through solar- and wind-power irrigation for farmers in Mozambique or a community biogas project in Nepal.

There are several fun ways that you can help support Renewable World. Spread some holiday cheer and support Renewable World simultaneously by purchasing e-cards, buy a sustainable gift in the shop, or fundraise with a challenge or event. You can also directly donate to the cause here.


Twitter Recommendations

Thanks again to our amazing Twitter followers. Here are their great non-profit recommendations.

Don't forget to leave your own suggestions in the comments below!


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As associate editor of, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for and REW magazine. I manage


Volume 18, Issue 3


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