REBA: Re-organizing for scale and impact

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The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) formed in 2013 to empower corporate buyers in their transition to clean energy. Initially a loose alliance among four NGOs—Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Resources Institute (WRI), and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)—its corporate buyer members include companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and GM.

But REBA’s ad-hoc governance—where each NGO had its own priorities, approach, and funding model—could not provide its members with efficient, structured support for their evolving needs. Unsurprisingly, REBA’s structure was sub-optimized for scaling to reach its ambitious goals and corporate buyers struggled to know which organization to go to for support and how to best allocate their financial contributions.

REBA needed to reorganize in order to meet their constituents’ needs and set themselves up for scaling if they wanted to reach their goal of 60GW of new renewables by 2025. They sought our help in co-creating a practicable plan for governance, services and support, staffing, and business model all while fostering collaboration among the four partner NGOs and members.

Taking a comprehensive, tailored approach, we developed a set of business principles and management structures for a new REBA. We outlined staffing models, high-level budgets, and business models for the new organization, empowering each NGO to maximize its contribution.

With our support, an interim board of NGO representatives and buyer members, stood up the new REBA—determining the right governance and working through key details, including legal structure, individual NGO commitment, overall programming, funding models, budget, and staffing, all the way up to the new CEO.

By focusing on collaboration, we secured the support of NGO- and corporate-stakeholders alike. Our efforts paid off—with trust and commitment to a shared vision, all four NGOs voluntarily donated a portion of their organizations to be integrated into REBA’s new model, ensuring continuity and providing a coherent services framework going forward.

With a new, buyer-driven member model in place, REBA has launched as an autonomous trade association with a highly personalized management structure. Now enabling more than 200 corporate energy buyers and 150 clean-energy developers to work in tandem toward a zero-carbon energy future, the new REBA is more united, more effective, and more cost-efficient.

Key success factors included:

  • Creating a Shared Fact Base: We started by surveying and interviewing REBA’s corporate and NGO members to understand their individual needs. Then we broadened our focus and conducted a full landscape analysis of NGO involvement in renewable energy buying.  This fact base helped form the foundation for creating trust around a shared vision of where REBA needed to go.

  •  Engaging Buyer Members: Buyer’s are why REBA was created and where it needed to refocus around.  In addition to surveying the entire membership, we brought in a small, highly engaged set of corporate representatives to ensure the buyer’s voice was front and center.

  • Prototyping Governance: There is no better way to know if an idea will work than by trying it. As part of an accelerated reorganization process, we instituted an interim board composed of principals from each NGO and key corporate energy buyers and facilitated workshops and meetings to build consensus. A similar governance structure exists today and was critical in helping work through key decisions.

Very few firms could pull off what Blu Skye did for REBA in such a short time with one client, let alone four NGOs. By the end of the project, we had the organizational momentum and trusted relationships that set us up for long-term success.

I’ve worked with Blu Skye on many projects with many organizations. They are truly unparalleled in their ability to build trust between stakeholders with seemingly opposing perspectives, and drive consensus when ambiguity is dominant. Their approach and processes are the winning ingredient, and their sustainability subject matter expertise is simply a bonus.
— Miranda Ballentine, CEO, REBA