CollectiveSun is proud to be the only company in America that exclusively helps nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations fund solar projects nationwide. CollectiveSun was founded in 2011 on the principle all nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations should have access to solar power. Our team of experts understand the financing challenges nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations face better than anyone else. Our proprietary funding models were designed to minimize your nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations time and effort while guaranteeing the least expensive funding options available. IRS rules unfairly dictate nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations are excluded from utilizing tax benefits because of their tax-exempt status. However, CollectiveSun’s innovative financing model applies tax credits that reduce the cost of your nonprofit or tax-exempt organization’s solar project by 15% or more!

  • CollectiveSun can reduce ANY solar installer’s bid by 15% or more on projects $150,000 or greater
  • CollectiveSun can help finance solar projects for ANY nonprofit or tax-exempt organization nationwide
  • CollectiveSun will ALWAYS offer the least expensive funding options
  • CollectiveSun does not attach any liens to the nonprofit or tax-exempt organization’s property
  • CollectiveSun can use one or ANY combination of the payment options below to fund projects

There Are 5 Options to Fund a Solar Project

  • Loans: A loan can come from a variety of sources including:
    Existing Bank Relationships: nonprofits can approach their current mortgage holder or any other bank they wish with assistance from CollectiveSun.
    Program Related Investment Loans (PRIs): allow foundations to make socially aligned investments as loans that offer favorable rates of return when compared to stock market investments.
    Nonprofit Specialty Lender Loans: if the project loan amount is over $250,000 CollectiveSun works with several nonprofit specialty lenders who are nonprofits themselves. These lenders like our solar financing structure and offer low-interest rates because of their mission-alignment with helping other nonprofits. We are happy to provide no-obligation introductions to our nonprofit specialty lenders upon request.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE): loans are repaid as an assessment on the nonprofit’s property tax bill. A lien is placed on the property to secure the loan.
  • Reserves: money in the bank, cash in hand, is the simplest option, if available.
  • Donations: nonprofit leaders can go to their supporters asking for another round of donations.
  • CrowdLending: a direct loan from the supporters of the nonprofit to the nonprofit itself with principal and interest repaid annually using the saving from the solar project. Because it’s a direct loan between the nonprofit and its supporters (investors), the interest rate can be set at the discretion of the nonprofit, anything between 0%-8%.

Solar Power Agreement (SPA)

Under traditional “full cost” PPAs, a large bank, a Wall Street Investor or another unaffiliated entity is profiting from the financing of your nonprofit or tax-exempt organization’s solar project. CollectiveSun’s SPAs differ because they are funded by community members who profit from the transaction, thereby keeping dollars in the community.

Regardless of who is funding your project, someone’s making money on the transaction. CollectiveSun believes the community members should be that ``someone`` because…

  • The community will evaluate the default risk of their nonprofit or the tax-exempt organization lower than a traditional financing company and will accept a lower interest rate.
  • Keeping dollars local and having supporters of the nonprofit or tax-exempt organization benefit is better than sending profits to a large bank or a Wall Street investor.

Another way of looking at it

Getting financing from a large bank or traditional solar financing company means your nonprofit or tax-exempt organization is going to be paying a lot more in the long run because banks categorize nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations as “risky” investments and to mitigate the perceived risk, they attach exceptionally high interest rates to the transaction. Going to your community and using the CollectiveSun CrowdLending platform means your nonprofit or tax-exempt organization will pay substantially less and your community members are the ones that will benefit.


CollectiveSun believes the time to ask for donations is when your investors are receiving their loan repayments. During the annual loan repayment notification process, when CollectiveSun informs community members their loan repayments are arriving and how much principal and interest they’ve earned during the year, we offer them an opportunity to donate all or a portion of their repayments back to the nonprofit or tax-exempt organization they love and support. This unique component of CollectiveSun’s CrowdLending campaign provides nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations with an opportunity to “double dip” from a singular investment. The nonprofit or tax-exempt organization receives the initial loan amount to fund the solar project and then charitable donations are received when these same funds are paid back annually to the investors.

Sample Project

A church in New York wanted to reduce their energy bills with clean, renewable energy. They also wanted to demonstrate their commitment to Creation Care Theology by supporting environmental causes. They decided to use an installer who gave them a bid of $200,000 for a 60kW system that will reduce their energy bill by 75%. The pastor looked at all available funding options. He didn’t have enough money in reserves to pay for the system outright. Two banks told him his loan request was too risky with a third bank offering an 11% loan. The pastor didn’t want to go to his supporters asking for another round of donations. Instead, he decided to utilize CollectiveSun’s CrowdLending campaign which allowed the pastor to ask his supporters for a loan to fund the solar project. He informed his supporters the loan would be paid back annually over 10 years with a 5% return on their investment, the church would take possession of the system at no additional cost in just 6 years, the SPA would allow the church to lock in a discounted energy rate 75% less than what they were currently paying for 25+ years which protects them against any utility rate increases. Best of all, the church only needed to raise $170,000 because CollectiveSun was able to apply tax credits to reduce the cost by 15% (a $30,000 saving). That’s money they could use to build a new playground. At the end of the 25+ year life of the solar system, this church will end up saving $500,000 or more!

When asked for his opinion at a Board a meeting CollectiveSun attended a very excited Pastor responded: “You mean to tell me CollectiveSun allows my Church to utilize the tax credits I otherwise couldn’t, I don’t have to once again go to my flock and ask them for more donations, any money given is a loan they’ll get back with interest, and the annual repayments on that loan are sometimes donated back to the church?” Answer: YES

If you too would like to learn how much money CollectiveSun can save your nonprofit or tax exempt organization, click here.

Team Members

CollectiveSun Lee Barken- CCO

Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP is the Chief Community Officer at CollectiveSun®, LLC. He has broad industry experience in renewable energy project finance, environmental commodities consulting and public policy analysis. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and social ventures develop economically viable energy projects. Lee writes and speaks on the topics of renewable energy project finance, social entrepreneurship, and community financing. Lee plays an active role on the board of directors of Cleantech San Diego, The San Diego Venture Group, and Grid Alternatives. Lee received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from San Diego State University where he graduated with honors and academic distinction.

CollectiveSun Matthew Brennan VP of Operations

Matthew Brennan is the VP of Operations at CollectiveSun®, LLC. He is a solar installation expert with experience in both residential and commercial projects. In addition to being a talented entrepreneur, Matt’s has a strong engineering and technical background. His experience includes founding SanDiegoSolarPower.com, a solar sales, and procurement company with extensive market reach. Prior to SanDiegoSolarPower.com, he worked as an industrial engineer for a network equipment manufacturer, a sales engineer for electronic equipment manufacturers and an operations manager for an industry-leading mechanical engineering magazine. He brings his passion for solar power to CollectiveSun®, where Matt manages all aspects of installer relationships and project development. Matthew received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

CollectiveSun Todd Bluechel VP of Marketing and Sales

Todd Bluechel is the Vice President of Marketing and Sales at CollectiveSun®, LLC. Mr. Bluechel brings over 14 years in the alternative energy sector to CollectiveSun having worked as the Director of Marketing and Sales for a Waste-to-Energy Company that utilizes a disruptive pyrolytic gasification technology. Mr. Bluechel is the President and Founder of Fish. Food. Feel Good., America’s only sustainable fishing charity, a first of its kind 501c3 that collects migratory sport caught pelagic fish from fishermen and distributes them to local charities including: San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Rescue Mission, Urban Angels, Jewish Family Services, Kitchens for Good, Dreams for Change, Imperial Valley Food Bank, and Father Joe’s Village, feeding over 80,000 annually for free. Mr. Bluechel utilizes his expertise in the alternative energy industry, the nonprofit sector, and his six years in media, marketing films and television, to educate and promote the financial, social and environmental benefits of CollectiveSun’s impact investing platform for all nonprofit organizations nationwide.

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