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Keeping It All In The Family

RFP Spotlight September 2011
A New Jersey­based nonprofit has been able to continue its good works and even expand its programs, thanks to Viridian’s Residual Fundraising Program.

The Northwest New Jersey Community Action Program, or NORWESCAP, had seen a drop­off in donations and was looking for an additional source of revenue. That’s when they heard about Viridian’s unique program.

“The sister of one of our employees is a Viridian Associate, and said she’d like to tell us how we could save money on energy,” said Terry Newhard, CEO and executive director of NORWESCAP. “So Judy Marinaro came in about a year ago and made her presentation, and I saw the bigger potential for the organization. I took the idea to our board of directors, who approved it. That’s when we got to work.”

Newhard estimates there are about 26 organizations like his in New Jersey, and about a thousand more across the country. “So the potential is there, if we can convince folks to sign on. We had our work cut out for us,” he said.

NORWESCAP began reaching out to warm contacts throughout its network of employees, staff and others. “Now we already have 14 Associates and a little over 400 customers so far,” Newhard said. “As word is beginning to spread, we expect those numbers to rise dramatically.” Indeed, the group is looking outside of New Jersey for new prospects, reaching into New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

The organization currently manages about 70 different projects in a six­county area of New Jersey. Included among those are energy assistance, affordable housing, a hydroponic growing business, and head­start and other child­care programs. “We also do low­interest loans, run a food bank and more,” Newhard said. “The potential number of clients among all these programs is huge, reaching about 30,000 clients total.” Newhard said his group has reached out to a little less than half of them so far, and while response has been good, it takes time and patience. “We just got two more agencies to sign up with us, but it had taken them six months to decide to come on board.”

Still, NORWESCAP is reaping the fruits of its labors. “We recently got a residual fundraising check, for about $2,400,” Newhard said. “The money will come in very handy.”

Newhard said NORWESCAP has its own particular Whys for sticking with Viridian. “First off, we like the fact that it’s a green company,” he said. “But we also like the ‘residual fundraising’ part. We’re being hit hard, as are most nonprofits in this economy, so every little bit helps. Finally, we also wanted to have some money available to be able to explore new ideas to help our clients. It all fits together.”

Newhard also credits the support he gets from corporate for helping make it all ‘fit.’ “The Viridian team has been very responsive to us; we like their energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

It would seem NORWESCAP is on the right path, and Newhard said his group would keep pushing forward. “As the word spreads about Viridian and energy deregulation, we’re finding it easier to make inroads,” he said. “Our goal is to get at least 5,000 people signed up.” With the dedication and hard work of his team, he certainly seems well on his way.