Dear WISE Women and Men:
Over the past weekend, the Women in Sustainable Energy (WISE) board members met to discuss the future of our education-focused organization. WISE and the world are both changing, so we had to make some difficult decisions. The most challenging one was our conclusion that WISE must transform itself by merging with another women’s energy organization, or, like all good things, this respected, volunteer-run nonprofit must come to an end.
WISE’s history spans nearly 25 years. It began informally among a group of women who worked at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and sought each other’s professional support in a male-dominated field. The informal network grew, and in 2009, there was strong need for a place where women could meet to connect and learn about sustainable energy. At the time, we had dozens of people attending meetings to learn about cutting-edge topics from leaders in business, government and other nonprofit organizations, as well as to exchange business cards and drink wine. Competition was fierce to join the WISE board, as well.
In the years since, women’s participation in sustainable energy solutions has continued to bloom. We’re proud of this unqualified success: Colorado women have made an impact locally, nationally, and globally.
Recently, despite this growth, WISE has seen declining memberships and reduced attendance. It has become increasingly challenging to cover our expenses for our 12 annual meetings, as well as to find dedicated board members. Competition for people’s valuable and limited time also has grown.
This is why, going forward, we’ll be changing the way WISE operates. At a minimum, we will be pausing meetings after July. We also are seeking input from you about what changes we will make going forward. Here’s what to expect:
Summary of What to Expect
First, we’ll be ending our membership at CNDC, which ends our nonprofit status and cancels our ability to manage funding for the time being. This will occur quickly—at the end of June. We’ve been grateful to CNDC for providing a home for us.
Second, we’ll be exploring whether we should merge WISE with another organization to help retain continuity in the types of educational programming that we’ve been providing for years. It’s likely that if we do this, WISE’s meeting format would need to adapt to the needs of members of the organization we join. In order to make such a change, we will need your support. Please fill out this short survey by June 23 so, we can better serve your needs in the future.
Third, we’re endeavoring to handle finances fairly. This means that if you signed up for or renewed a paying membership within the last 12 months, we will be refunding you the pro-rated amount of your membership. If you do not wish to receive a refund, or your credit card information has recently changed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 23. Please do not send credit card information by email, however. Any balance left over after we have refunded members, paid expenses, and completed upcoming meetings will be donated to a local nonprofit.
Finally, we’ll be changing to a lower tech setup for the short-term, meaning we won’t be able to collect funds or set up event notices, except via email. Should we opt to merge with another organization, we will give you the opportunity to opt out of being transferred to their mailing list.
Thank You All
We are so grateful to you for attending WISE meetings, volunteering, serving on the board, presenting to WISE members, and spreading the word about sustainable energy. We greatly appreciate the time donated by our amazing speakers, as well as the kind words and tough questions WISE women have posed to them. We’re proud of the nearly 100 events offered over the last decade that many of us have been involved with WISE, and we hope WISE has been a benefit to you—a place to learn, to meet interesting women, and to be challenged, and to help others succeed.
You’ll hear from us at least one more time about WISE’s future. Please send us your thoughts by June 23, particularly if you’re interested in participating in future programming, should WISE merge with another organization. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at email@example.com.
Kathy Pitts, Board President
Kelly Crandall, Programs Coordinator
Melanie Kelly, Membership Coordinator
Patricia Moore, Marketing and Communications Manager