An Interview With Jennifer Marrapese, Executive Director, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
Everywhere from Maine down to the nation’s capitol, Greenfield, Mass.-based Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is working to change that and “advance the adoption of sustainable energy practices within the built environment.”
With a more than $1.3 million annual operating budget — of which NESEA Executive Director Jennifer Marrapese and the education director worked to procure nearly $600,000 in grants, sponsorships, memberships and donations — the association’s eight employees are devoted to making the Northeast a greener world.
FundRaising Success: Please tell us a little about the organization’s history.
Jennifer Marrapese: The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is the nation’s leading regional membership organization focused on promoting the understanding, development and adoption of energy conservation and nonpolluting, renewable energy technologies. For more than 30 years, NESEA has facilitated and enhanced a network of professionals, practitioners and other citizens in pursuit of responsible energy use. NESEA is a member of the American Solar Energy Society, and our programs and activities focus on the Northeastern United States, from Washington, D.C., to Maine.
FS: How do you fund your mission?
JM: Through a combination of grants, corporate sponsors, service contracts, memberships, private donation and earned income (mainly workshop and conference registrations).
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned?
JM: One of our greatest strengths also presents a challenge in terms of fundraising. NESEA’s membership is truly multidisciplinary — we draw members [including] architects, engineers, educators, builders, renewable energy professionals, policymakers, energy consultants, planners and others. This diversity is a key strength of the association and mirrors our belief that the most efficient use of energy requires the collaborative effort of practitioners in diverse professions. NESEA is the only place where this diverse group comes together to network, build partnerships and collaborate on projects. This tremendous strength becomes our challenge when seeking funding. We are so many things to such a multidisciplinary group. These professionals have other primary professional organizations that they belong to and support. It’s challenging to convey the value proposition in supporting NESEA as their professional organization of second choice!