AIRE’s goal all along has been to become a self-sustaining organization, by serving as a wayfinder and consultant for those wanting to pioneer community-based renewable energy. Our plan was to move beyond charity and, instead, operate as a mission-driven social enterprise using project developer fees as a sustaining revenue source. We have fulfilled that commitment by relying on fees, thrift, and to a great extent, our volunteerism and sacrifice.
However, we see new threats and their attendant opportunities in hyper-relevant new cross-sector collaborations. We now believe that foundations and charitable donors should to play a bigger role in this defensive time for all renewables, especially community-scale renewables. For AIRE this means a hybrid of earned income from projects and consulting, and authentic charitable giving.
But there’s another reason we’re rethinking a reliance solely on project fees and that is simply put, some worthy but small projects cannot support such overhead. We’ve seen the solar project development supply chain attempting to maximize profit and internalize the value of the tax credits at every step, the net effect being to inflate project cost out of reach for some.
AIRE is scrappy, resourceful and thoroughly mission-driven. We founders have remained committed to AIRE and its mission through thick and thin. When the mission requires, and to this day, we’ve always resorted to volunteerism and servant leadership over careerism and salary.