Fuel Your Mission, Not Your Electricity Bill!

C3's Better Business Challenge is a great way for non-profits to cut energy costs, demonstrate environmental stewardship, and gain recognition in the community.

Despite its name, the Better Business Challenge is also open to Charlottesville Area schools, non-profits, and faith groups. In fact, already ten non-profits have joined including AHIP, The Haven, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Challenge is a community-wide, points-based competition in which more than 150 businesses, non-profits, schools, and faith groups have participated since 2011. In the last round, 78 participants saved a combined $185,000 annually.

So what specifically does a non-profit stand to gain from participation in the Challenge? Participants receive a bunch of great resources to improve energy efficiency in their spaces, positive publicity by showcasing their commitment to the Charlottesville community and the planet, and cost savings so that they can put their money toward their mission, not their energy bills.

We’ve Done the Homework for You

Participation in the Challenge grants access to a host of resources to make it as easy as possible to achieve significant savings. We have created an Energy Scorecard with 46 actions, ranging from easy and free to more challenging and financially significant, so that you can focus your effort on taking actions that matter.  Almost every action has a helpful resource when you fill out the initial online survey. These resources comprise the online Energy Catalyst Toolkit, a how-to guide to jumpstart your energy savings that includes provider lists, how-to guides, ideas for savings, and planning resources. Participants can attend a number of Lunch N’ Learns about topics like Energy Efficiency, Lighting, or Going Solar.

Participants can also receive advice and support tailored specifically for their facilities and needs. In the initial Welcome Visit, a C3 representative will explain the basics of the Challenge and point out next steps to maximize impact. Batteries + Bulbs provides free lighting assessments to participants in the Challenge.  Non-profits located in the City can receive an Energy Walkthrough from a LEAP Building Analyst. Participants also can request a Challenge Coach to provide advice and support in areas where they may have more questions. Online, participants can access a text-message reminders about important events and a B2B Forum to share obstacles, solutions, and success stories with other members of the Challenge.

Community Recognition

            What organization could not use more publicity for its good work? Throughout the duration of the Challenge, we tout our participants’ success stories of savings, innovation, and collaboration through a number of media platforms: radio, Facebook, Twitter, our newsletters, and TV. Last round we garnered over 35 media hits about the program and participant success. Joining the Challenge is a tangible and visible way to show donors, your staff, and the wider community that you care about the future of Charlottesville and want to contribute to making this city a shining national example of how to tackle large-scale problems.

Real Savings

Every dollar counts. For that reason, minimizing your energy expenses directly increases your ability to take on your mission—even if it does not relate to the environment. All non-profits have to carefully manage their financial resources to address their respective goals. Minimizing your energy use frees up dollars to go toward achieving your mission, thereby increasing your impact and making donors happier.

Don’t just take our word for it; a number of nonprofits have already joined the Challenge for this year’s friendly competition and are already experiencing the benefits of participation. AHIP, who decided to join the Challenge took advantage of the free lighting assessment from Batteries + Bulbs. After a walkthrough, Alfred from Batteries + Bulbs sent AHIP a personalized report that suggested they could save thousands over the next five years in utility bills simply replacing their fluorescent tube lighting with LEDs. The best part? It will only take AHIP 10 months to recover the cost of the new LED lighting—less than a year! AHIP can put additional resources toward its critical home repair, energy retrofit, and community programs thanks to making their space more efficient, even as they showcase their efforts toward making Charlottesville an environmental leader.

Next Steps

            If you want to learn more about the Better Business Challenge, the benefits it can offer to non-profits, and how the Challenge works, check out https://www.cvillebizchallenge.org. Are you already sold on joining? Simply follow this link to register your non-profit and start making moves to savings!