In a recent blog post introducing #GivingTuesday we introduced the concept of a Solar Champion, that community member who is passionate about renewable energy and who can rally your supporters around a fundraising effort to bring solar to your organization. In addition to providing an effective way to make renewable energy affordable, a Solar Champion-led effort can offer an outlet for creativity and an opportunity to express the spirit of your organization.

For example, at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, New York, the process of raising funds for a new, 85.3 kW carport-mounted solar array took on a life of its own. The organization began with a mix of simple donation requests to visitors and members, together with a simple, Razoo-based online campaign.

Before long, the Yoga Ranch community had found a number of creative ways to leverage their talents and common passion for Yoga to build fundraising momentum. They enlisted the support of karma yogi–individuals who help because they care and want to do something to serve the mission–who assisted with fundraising and campaigns on Facebook.

In addition, members of the community sold copies of Sustaining Grace, a self-produced CD of chants, at their ashram and other locations, and the ranch’s director participated in a 350-mile “climate ride” in order to raise both awareness of climate change and funds for the array.

Perhaps the most unique aspect involved the coordinated effort of a number of participants who performed “108 Sun Salutations” in observance of the summer solstice. Individuals at the Ranch in Woodbourne joined others in New York City, Chicago, Key Biscayne, Florida and elsewhere to complete 108 Salutations and raised more than $20,000.

“In this kind of event where people are making a personal effort, it’s a symbol of their commitment to the project,” says Yoga Ranch Director, Srinivasan. “Completing 108 Sun Salutations is an intense physical challenge, and these individuals were recognizing their commitment to the project, as well as generating support from those beyond the direct participants.

“We are trying to keep people continually refocused on the fact that we’re not only here to teach yoga, but we are here with the idea of trying to make the world a better place,” he continued.

Caring is an important part of yoga practice, and the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch was able to leverage this caring and commitment to raise funds for their array, and to engage with and deepen the sense of community they had with a wide range of stakeholders.

In addition to raising funds to defray project costs, the ranch benefited from the assistance of multiple Solar Champions who contributed meaningfully to the organization’s sense of deeper community and helped to move the project forward.