Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wind energy, charitable giving

Our most recent BGE bill seems to finally contain evidence that we have a sustainable energy supplier. In previous blogs (e.g., "Is it green yet?") I looked into where our energy comes from. The "Pepco green" source wasn't what it was cracked up to be, and I was pretty sure that I asked them to switch us to their other alternative energy source: "100% Wind."

Last month's bill showed the rate that I was quoted for the green source ($0.1511), so I know I wasn't getting what I wanted. This month's bill has us pegged at $0.1571, which should mean we've connected our TV, lights and HVAC to windmills somewhere in North America. I probably should not just assume that's what has happened, but ask Pepco Energy for a little proof. After watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" I got pretty cynical about greed and the ability to control excesses like that.

On a different note, I've been using Facebook to build a friends network for a few months, and saw that Leave No Trace has a page. There's a "join me" drive that, at last glance, had over 10,000 members, and a donation slot, with less than $300 donated. My calculator showed that's only pennies per person.

So, I started a pledge to raise $100, and kicked in $25 to start. I've given money directly to Leave No Trace in the past, because I think it's a worthy educational, environmental charity. The on-line Facebook donation went through Network for Good, which I was a little leery about, not because I don't trust them, but because (a) I don't know how much they charge for services and (b) I'm not sure whether I can use the matching gifts program from work.

My research showed that shel israel's company already rated Network for Good, though the details didn't include much financial data. I then searched through their site and found the 2006 annual report, published about a year ago, showing their transaction rate of 4.75% (on page 25 of 26). Correspondence with Leave No Trace people confirmed this.

There is a site called spadout.com, which rates camping and related gear. If you do a certain amount of rating, and recruit someone else to do rating, then they'll donate a couple bucks to Leave No Trace. Interesting, somewhat viral approach, to marketing and site building. Visit their Facebook page and see the link on the Wall of the Leave No Trace page. And yes, the chance to win a T shirt got me motivated.

I think it's great for us to have convenient ways to be charitable ("click here") but worry that we've reduced helping others to be another form of online shopping.

That being said, if you read this, and would like to support my goal of raising $100, please take a look at the Facebook page for Leave No Trace and join in!

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