2017 ASES Business Plan

 ASES 2020 PLAN

April 18, 2017

Mission: To Enable a 100% Renewable Energy Society

Membership and Audience: A Community of Solar Professionals and Solar Enthusiasts

  • Installers/Other RE businesses
  • Architects
  • Researchers/Academics/Educators
  • Engineers
  • Other technical professionals
  • Emerging Professionals
  • Homeowners
  • Advocacy Groups
  • Individuals, groups, businesses interested in renewable energy and sustainability
  • Policy makers
  • Etc.

 

Operating Budget: $20,000/month. ASES board reviews progress monthly. Cost control is very important.

ASES Activities:

  • Solar Today magazine
  • National Solar Tour
  • Annual Solar Conference
  • Membership
  • Fundraising
  • Chapter & Division coordination
  • ASES Media – Website, social media, Solar@Work, blog, online forums, etc
  • Relationship building — members, supporters, sponsors, partners, etc
  • New Initiatives – Solar Citizen/Tiny Watts
  • Serving as fiscal sponsor of the Clean Energy Credit Union (forming)
  • Working with interns

Operational Org Chart:

Board of Directors (April 2017):

  • Elaine Hebert, Co-Chair
  • Paulette Middleton, Co-Chair
  • Lucas Dixon, Vice Chair
  • Adam Plesniak. Treasurer
  • (Just vacated), Secretary
  • Wyldon Fishman
  • Bill Spratley
  • Jamie Trahan
  • Laura Burrington
  • John Essig
  • Angela Lipanovich
  • Jill Cliburn

ASES has a Board fellow, Philip Grigsby, a graduate student in business, assisting for calendar year 2017. He’s focused on fundraising and student engagement.

ASES Executive Director: Carly Rixham

ASES Staff:

Operations Assistant Development/Sponsors/

Ad Sales

Accounting/

Finances

Membership Outreach/Web
Simo Yezrour Spring Hericks Sarah Townes, Tiffiny Harrower Carly Cipolla Sara Morell, Sunshine Urbaniak

 

ASES Interns: Taylor Camp (SOLAR@WORK), Maggie D’Angelo (Media Partnerships), Reeves Goepfert (Social Media)

 

More details are in Appendix A.

 

ASES Identity, Products, and Services:

 

Identity: ASES’s identity is in flux and has been for some time. We used to be the one place anyone working in or interested in solar and renewables would come for the annual conference and exposition. With the enormous rise in the international markets for manufacturing and distributing PV, and the accompanying growth in the PV industry (including several large B2B PV conferences/expos), ASES has had to redefine its niche. We now see ourselves as a community of solar and renewable energy professionals and enthusiasts. We cover all applications of solar and many other forms of renewable energy, in Solar Today magazine, in the Solar@Work newsletter, and in the sessions at our annual conferences. We offer an environment where participants are not subject to sales pitches for PV systems or PV components; it’s a welcoming, non-competitive, educational and community-oriented environment where all are welcome.

Products and Services: ASES members belong for two main reasons: education (information) and community. On education, ASES provides unidirectional services through Solar Today and bi-directional resources such as responding to requests for information and the annual conference. On community, the annual conference is the main service. In addition, we support those ASES chapters that organize local solar tours as part of creating local community involvement with renewables. We hope also to expand the ASES online forums for members and others to communicate with each other; and we are growing the Solar Citizen movement to create a virtual community to engage more people in moving toward a 100% renewable energy society.

ASES provides resources on forming local ASES chapters, forming student chapters, and hosting Solar Tours.

More details are in Appendix B.

New opportunities for ASES must offer at least one of three clear benefits given their respective costs:

  • Drive revenue through membership, ad sales, sponsorship, or other mission-oriented positive cash flow endeavors;
  • Improve community-oriented products, services and content; or
  • Improve educational-oriented products, services and content.

 

ASES Schedule & Goals:

2016                         2017                       2018                       2019                       2020

SOLAR TODAY quarterly SOLAR TODAY quarterly SOLAR TODAY quarterly SOLAR TODAY quarterly SOLAR TODAY quarterly
SOLAR 2016 / ISNA

San Francisco

SOLAR 2017 – with Decathlon  in Denver SOLAR 2018 TBD SOLAR 2019 – possibly with Decathlon in Denver SOLAR 2020  TBD
National Solar Tour National Solar Tour National Solar Tour National Solar Tour National Solar Tour
Membership Stable Membership up 5% over 2016 Membership up 5% over 2017 Membership up 5% over 2018 Membership up 5% over 2019
Budget & Staff – Managed to financial plan Budget & Staff – Managed to financial plan Budget & Staff – Managed to financial plan Budget & Staff – Managed to financial plan Budget & Staff – Managed to financial plan
Website Rebrand Planned Website Rebrand Completed Website updates ongoing Website updates ongoing Website updates ongoing
Sponsorships/Ad Sales Stable Sponsorships/Ad Sales Grow 20% over 2016 Sponsorships/Ad Sales Grow 20% over 2017 Sponsorships/Ad Sales Grow 20% over 2018 Sponsorships/Ad Sales Grow 20% over 2019
Fundraising Fundraising up by 10% Fundraising up by 10% over previous year Fundraising up by 10% over previous year Fundraising up by 10% over previous year
Outreach – Credit Union Underway (ongoing) Credit Union established; Solar Citizen Initiated, Blog explored Continue Solar Citizen; Other ideas explored to promote renewables Other ideas explored Other ideas explored

 

Key Strategies for Achieving Goals:

SOLAR TODAY

  • Provide high quality, informative, timely information and highlight welcoming ways to get involved with ASES in every issue;
  • Create engaging surveys about content and demographics being served; cross market with tour and conference and highlight in all ASES outreach;
  • Integrate advertising with conference and tour sponsorship opportunities; and
  • Reassess success annually and modify approach as needed.

Annual Conference

  • Provide cutting edge information on all aspects of pathways to 100% renewable energy and sustainable living society in engaging formats and welcoming networking events bringing together advocates, researchers, decision makers, and all of the ASES community;
  • Survey participants about content and format immediately after conference;
  • Cross market with tour and SOLAR TODAY and highlight in all ASES outreach;
  • Integrate sponsorships opportunities with tour and SOLAR TODAY offerings; and
  • Reassess success after conference and modify approach as needed.

 

Membership

  • Provide easy access to all member benefits and respond promptly to emails and calls from members and potential members about ASES products and services;
  • Conduct effective surveys on membership needs;
  • Poll current and lapsed members – ask them what interests them, what they would like to see from ASES, what keeps them up at night, what policies concern them most,..;
  • Personally reach out to lapsed members (particularly companies and high value individuals and groups) to understand reasons for leaving ASES;
  • Include join/donate cards in SOLAR TODAY print editions;
  • Broaden base of energy professionals (e.g., energy service professionals, other engineering associations like ASME, etc; and
  • Track membership on a monthly basis and adapt membership strategy as needed.

 

Budget & Staff

  • Board chairs provide ED with personal development targets each year and board reviews progress at the end of the year and determines salary actions, and ED provides similar guidance for staff;
  • Chairs go over process with ED weekly, and ED reviews work with Staff weekly;
  • Treasurer reviews financial plan versus actuals monthly; and
  • Board and ED work to modify activities and staff as needed based on assessment of financials and other important factors.

 

Fundraising

  • Provide monthly fundraising requests based on timely and/or new initiatives; track donations monthly and send thank you messages to donors;
  • Create special requests linked to the conference;
  • Reach out personally to major donors and sponsors;
  • Publicize Amazon Smile more aggressively; and
  • Assess progress quarterly and revise fundraising strategy as needed.

 

Outreach

  • Advance initiatives (e.g., credit union and Tiny Watts) that dramatically increase awareness of ASES and its programs;
  • Broaden base of energy professionals (e.g., energy service professionals, engineering associations like ASME, etc);
  • Better assess groups in the ASES network that can best help ASES expand outreach;
  • Expand partnerships beyond media co-marketing;
  • Build on partnerships as a strong benefit (e.g. publicize ISES webinars as related to ASES);
  • Strengthen relationship between ASES and SEI (and state SEI groups);
  • Greatly enhance marketing strategies for combined outreach, sponsorships, memberships, and fundraising;
  • Enhance rebranding, making sure that value proposition for ASES is clear to many different audiences (e.g., ASES helps you be the best that you can be);
  • Track progress through memberships and engagements (i.e., ASES.org page views, Twitter followers, Facebook fans (likes)) quarterly; and
  • Update approaches as needed.

 

APPENDICES

Appendix A – Responsibilities of the Board and Operational Team

Responsibilities of the Board:

The ASES Board, with guidance from Board Co-Chairs, carries out these duties:

  • Promote ASES through memberships, sponsorships, ads, partnerships
  • Strengthen financial base through fundraising and contributions, plus:
  1. Protect assets and provide financial oversight
  2. Participate in all board fundraising efforts (emphasis is on participation, not amount donated)
  • Attend monthly Board calls (80% attendance minimum) with the goals of:
  1. Ensuring effective planning
  2. Monitoring and strengthening programs and services
  3. Ensuring legal and ethical integrity
  • Participate in conference
  • Create/enable content for Solar Today & blog
  • Enable efficient membership communication through assisting with email and phone responses (as needed)

Also:

  • Periodically determine/define/update ASES Mission, Vision and Purpose
  • Support and evaluate the Executive Director
  • Enhance the organization’s public standing
  • Work to build a competent board (enhance effectiveness of the existing board, bring on effective new board members, etc.)

 

Responsibilities of the Operational Team:

 

  • Drive Membership, Sponsorship Sales, Ad Sales, Partnerships, Grant Opportunities
  • Edit and publish Solar Today quarterly, advise editorial on ASES Website, continue Solar@Work & Social Media, introduce blog
  • Organize Conference Annually
  • Advise Solar Tour, Local Chapters and Student Chapters, Divisions
  • Assist Board with development of new Solar Citizen initiative
  • Maintain all necessary activity “in the background” to keep ASES going

 

Appendix B

Detailed Information on ASES’s Two Main Niches: Providing Education and Information, and Creating Community

 

EDUCATION/INFORMATION COMMUNITY
Products and Services Products and Services
    SOLAR TODAY     Annual Conference
    Solar@Work, Social Media     Chapters
    Annual Conference     Divisions
    Phone and email communication     National solar tour
    Solar Citizen/Tiny Watts project
    Clean Energy Credit Union

 

On Education and Information – Products and Services

With the importance of education and content to ASES members and others, a focus on regular (quarterly) high-quality publication of Solar Today is of paramount importance to ASES National. Also important is setting up the content-creation engine through partnerships and via ASES advisors and members for a dynamic blog on the front page of ASES.org. Solar Today is held for a longer time, with deeper and more visual content, whereas the blog and related social media are more dynamic, shorter, faster stories in the vein of GreenTech Media (who may become be a partner in providing content). In 2017, the website will be re-vamped to support this content and infrastructure put into place for timed content management. The focus for both should be in exciting stories and lifestyle content for these publication channels. Art, culture, lifestyle, “interesting” technical topics, and business are all welcome in ASES publications.

Solar@Work will continue to be the bi-weekly email newsletter with content drawn from the blog and other sources. ASES currently has an intern helping put Solar@Work together.

ASES currently has another intern helping push out messaging through our social media outlets – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Connecting to members and reaching out to potential members through two-way communication is also critical. The demand for this type of communication is currently larger than the resources at ASES to manage it. ASES National wants to be the starting point for that connection but needs help on successful administration. For now, ASES has no live person answering the phone; callers are sent to voicemail. The outgoing message makes it clear that communication via email (to membership@ases.org) is preferred. ASES also receives email at info@ases.org, our general box that can be accessed by multiple ASES people. In the case where a large percentage of emails are about a single issue, such as member password resets or membership renewal, ASES makes every effort implement an efficient IT solution that reduces or eliminates the need for staff time. If monies for ASES staff to manage specialized contact are not available, ASES leadership asks board members to step in.

ASES has a single phone number, but as indicated above, it has an outgoing message asking the caller to email for a faster response.

On Community – Products and Services

With the importance of community to ASES members, the conference is the one time a year to get together and talk about solar, renewables, environmental awareness, and earth-friendly lifestyle activities. The ASES leadership feels our niche is not trying to be like the solar B2B (business to business) PV conferences, or the technical conferences such as those of IEEE, but instead a solar/renewable conference with some academic, techical, lifestyle, activist, and other aspects, where there is a little of everything: art, culture, technology, science, business. All are welcome at the ASES Annual Solar Conference. The conference is meant to be unbiased, non-competitive, and not about selling PV systems or components; we aim to provide a warm, welcoming environment and a sense of community for real information exchange.

The conference is the main service/event for members and potential members.

Local and student chapters are the arms and legs of ASES. However, ASES does not have the resources to get involved in chapter activities beyond organizing a montly conference call and mentoring on running solar tours. ASES leadership believes the best way to serve the chapters is to be a strong national organization. ASES provides resources on how to A) become a chapter and B) stay a chapter of ASES, but does not go beyond this guidance at this time. The goals of the chapters should be to provide unbiased information and to encourage membership in the ASES community locally and nationally.

Divisions are the trusted technical arm of ASES, providing professional review of abstracts submitted for the annual conference and offering reliable information for ASES members and nonmembers as needed. In 2016 and 2017, the Divisions are somewhat lacking in strong leadership; ASES leadership is comtemplating how to address this.

As noted, ASES National will continue to provide resources for organizing local solar tours, but will not play an active role in financially supporting or administering the tours. ASES provides a national map online on which tour organizers can post tours, and ASES prints and mails the tour organizers copies of a basic solar energy guide as a handout to “tourists.”

In 2017, ASES is just launching a project called Tiny Watts, under its Solar Citizen campaign. The idea behind Tiny Watts is encourage all citizens to use even the smallest, least expensive or home-made solar device to become part of a national movement of Solar Citizens. We envision creating an online community for those who wish to exchange ideas on Do-It-Yourself projects (such as solar cookers) or where to buy good products for, for example, charging cell phones or laptops.

Lastly, ASES is the fiscal sponsor for a credit union that will provide financial services for people interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency. A group of solar professionals based in Colorado is in the process of raising the capital needed to become the Clean Energy Credit Union (CECU). To join CECU, a person will have to be an ASES member (or be living in the household of or be related to an ASES member). The CECU has the potential to expand the ASES community by increasing the number of ASES members and by increasing the number of households having access to funding for renewable energy projects or energy improvements.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterDigg thisEmail this to someone