Your Guide to Crowd Financing Clean Energy Projects

October 23, 2015   |   Alaeddine Mokri

 In this step by step tutorial you’ll learn a great deal about:

-      how to crowd finance clean energy projects (solar installation, energy efficiency project, etc) on the Village Power platform;

-      how to generate a solar proposal;

-      crowd financing regulations in the United States;

1- Add Content

Let's first create a new project page here.

When you create a new project, most of the content is auto-generated for you already. All you need at this stage is to read through it and make sure it is consistent, easy to understand and relevant to investors.

Content has two components: text and documents. For the text component, you will see that most of the content has been generated for you already. All you need is is to read through it and make sure it has all relevant information. One important thing is the project image. Crowd financing experts all agree that a project page with a nice photo is more attractive to investors. 

project page

The second component is documents. There are four types of documents: financial, legal, technical and other. Some investors might want to look at the documents before they invest, so please make sure all relevant documents are uploaded. 

documents tab

2- Add co-champions

If you want colleagues and friends to help you with the project, you can make them co-champions which means that they will have the same access rights to the project as yourself.

To add a co-champion just click the “add champions” button, then add their email address in the field.

add co-champions

3- Run the Financials

Running the financials is a critical step; therefore, we will give a quick overview here and dedicate a separate session to how to make a complete financial analysis. Here is a list tasks what you can do at this step:

3.1 — Running the finance model (basic version):

At this stage, you can enter the high level inputs of the project such as system size, PPA price, etc.

finance model - basic inputs 

3.2 — Running the finance model (advanced version):

Once you enter the high level inputs, you can click “Show / Hide Advanced Fields” where you can enter more specific information.
finance model - advanced

3.3— Generating the Cash Flow:

After you enter all information, you can click “View Report” to generate a full financial report including the project cashflow for its lifetime.  

finance model - cash flow

3.4— Publishing the Returns:

Once you are satisfied with the returns, you can click the “Update Page” button to publish the returns so investors can see them when they visit the project page. Please note that everything inside the red box below can be seen by investors. However, investors will not be able to see content under the Financials tab. 

publishing returns 

3.5 — Generating Project Proposals:

Once you publish the project returns and savings, you can also generate a project proposal by clicking “Generate Proposal”. It is a great idea to download it and upload it in the Documents section so investors can see it. 

project proposal

4- Showcase to Investors, Board Members, Friends, etc

After you finish steps 1 through 3, now all the necessary information for the investor ro make decision is available. At this stage, investors can see your project when they go to the “Browse Projects” section of the Village Platform platform.

If you want invite your investor friends to see the project page, you can either send them the web link to the project page or click the “Invite Friends” button and add their names. After you do that, they will receive an email notification with the link to the project page.

invite friends 

5- Management

When the project is raising funds, you will be receiving pledges, questions from investors and requests from non accredited investors who want to see the project page. Below is a short guide on managing plesges and invitations.

5.1 — Manage Pledges:

When an investor submits a pledge, project champions are notified. A chmapion can either approve or deny the pledge. Once that happens, the investor receives a conformation message. At this stage you can still remove the pledge untill the funding goal is reached. When that happens, all investors receive a request to send the checks.

investors tab 

5.2 — Manage Invitees

Project champions have control over who can see the project page. Under the Invitations tab you can see all invited users. Users that are invited by the champions do not need to be approved (they are approved by default). However, if a non champion users invites another user, then all champions receive a notification to approve the invitation.

You can also send a message or deny access to any invitee at any time. Please note that accredited investors have access to all projects by default (they do not need to be invited).
invitations tab

6- Updates and Announcements

6.1 — Updates to everyone:

To make announcements to all users associated with the project, you can create a new topic under the “Updates” tab.

6.2— Updates to investors:

To make announcements to investors who pledged in the project, you can use the Contact All button under Investors tab. You can also contact investors individually.

6.3 — Updates to invitees:

To make announcements to invitees to the project, you can use the Contact All button under Invitations tab. You can also contact invitees individually.

6.4 — Updates to co-champions:

To make announcements to the co-champions of the project, you can use the “Contact Champions” button at the top of the project page.

7- Notes on Accessibility

Here we answer some common questions on accessibility:

1- Should you share the project page at a large scale to attract more investors?

Please note that as per the SEC regulations, you shouldn’t advertise the project page with a big audience at once (a massive mailing list, inviting users over twitter or facebook to invest, etc) but you are free to advertise it to your investor friends or those that you think are interested.

2- What parts of the project page are visible to champions only?

Only champions can edit content, upload documents, add other champions, and see the content of the tabs in orange: Financials, Investors and Invitations. Non-champions can not see these tabs. When a champion adds a new champion, the new champion will have the same accessibility rights.

3- What are levels of accessibility?

Projects can have 2 modes of accessibility:

In the first mode (default mode) the project can be seen by project champions, approved invitees and accredited investors. It will also be listed under the Seeking Funding section of the Browse Project page.

In the second mode (non default mode) the project can be seen by project champions and approved invitees only (accredited investors will not be able to see it). It will also be listed under the Under Development section of the Browse Project page but the page can not be accessed there.

If you want to make your project page accessible by champions and invitees only, a Village Power Community Manager can do that for you.

8- Tips

If you follow steps from 1 through 7, you will be on a good track to crowd finance any clean energy project you have. In fact, many projects have been funded this way on the Village Power platform. To make your fund raising activities more efficient, here are some tips:

  • upload a nice profile image of yourself and advise co-champions to do the same.
  • make sure the content in the Overview section and Documents section is up to date.
  • keep users updated by making regular announcements in the Updates tab.

That is all for this tutorial. We hope by now you have learned how to use the Village Power platform to build successful crowd financing campaigns for your project.