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RFP Spotlight November 2011
Viridian Director Mark Trager advises institutions on how to raise funds, so promoting the Residual Fundraising Program comes naturally to him.

Speaking with Director and professional fundraising consultant Mark Trager is like getting a crash sales course in Viridian’s Residual Fundraising Program. After he makes his case, you can’t understand why everyone isn’t participating.

When he first saw the business model in a program presentation, Trager says he ‘got it’ immediately. The unique program encourages nonprofit organizations to sign with Viridian as their energy supplier, and then encourage their members to sign on as well, to build an ongoing, no­cost revenue stream. The more members who enroll and continue to use Viridian’s green energy, the more money the organization receives every month—as does the Associate who enrolls them.

“I remembered thinking to myself, ‘If this is real, it makes a whole lot of sense,’” Trager said. He saw that the program provides not only a unique source of funds, but also some predictability as to how much an organization can potentially earn every month.

As owner of Trager Hadley LLC, Trager advises volunteer fire companies, healthcare organizations, arts groups and others on how to best raise monies to stay afloat. With Viridian’s RFP, he seized the opportunity to combine his networking skills and business knowledge, to help organizations raise much­needed cash, all while building a sustainable business of his own.

After learning from Platinum Partner Ed Kenny what it takes to successfully present to and enroll a fundraising organization, Trager decided to make his move. He approached Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, where the husband of one of his Associates was the chairman of the school’s foundation board. When Trager presented the program to them, the chairman brought in all the top board executives, but because of his training and preparation, Trager was ready. “We made our presentation followed by an interesting and detailed Q&A session,” he recalled. It was obvious to him, based on the audience’s positive body language and informed questions, that they wanted to move forward.

Yet despite the school’s initial enthusiasm, there were some challenges. Needing reassurance, the board contacted another school participating in Viridian’s program—the University of Connecticut—to ask about its experience with Viridian. Having been with the RFP since September 2009, UConn had nothing but good things to say about its success with the program. HCC was sold.

Everything is now in place to launch Howard Community College under the Viridian RFP this month, a collaboration that makes sense on several levels. “Howard County itself has an initiative under way for going green, and the county is encouraging businesses to do whatever they can in that area.
Plus, as Howard is a green college, they’re all about sustainability and saving the environment,” Trager said.

He also sees the institution as the first step in his larger plan, serving as a model for community colleges across the state of Maryland, and eventually for the whole country. “We’re fortunate that Howard is committed from the top down, and we’re going to immediately start promoting the program to the media, alumni, students and faculty.” Trager has set an ambitious goal of 5,000 customers for Howard Community College.

While pleased about the progress he’s made at HCC, Trager credits his association with Viridian for the success. “What this company has done is help me to surround myself with positive people with strong, positive agendas,” he said. “These people are not just ‘sayers,’ but ‘doers.’”