Re-Imagining Finance for Community Projects & Businesses

Need funding to start your community business but not sure where to start? Our event Re-Imagining Finance for Community Businesses and Projects, held last week at the Impact HUB Brixton, generated quite a few ideas that are worth exploring.

The event was part of our How to successfully lead a community project course, which includes a rich variety of online and offline leadership training. Our amazing guest speakers for this event were: Deborah Smart from Social Investment Business, Sarah Henderson from Echo, Jes Bailey from Crowdfund 360, Georgina Wilson from BUD and Reetu Sood from Impact Brixton. With great opportunities for networking, nibbles and even balloons we had a great evening, reflected in the comments we received, such as “really useful info, really inspired and great vibe, I feel like I can keep going.”

There were plenty of practical tips and ideas for anybody who’s starting up a community project or business and needs to get over the initial hump of lack of resources. Here are a few of them:

  1. If you’re considering applying for grant funding and you have any doubts or questions about eligibility, pick up the phone. Funders love talking to prospective grant applicants and the big grant-makers always have a contact number on their website.
  2. Crowdfunding campaigns are a great route to funding as long as they are designed properly. A campaign should last 30-35 days maximum, and before you start you should have an engaged social media community and mailing list – you need a high proportion of recipients who actually open your newsletter email as well as a good number on the list. Also, don’t forget to give examples of your track record in the communications – successes you’ve had on previous programmes or pilots. If you haven’t done a pilot? Do one!
  3. You might think you need funding to get that shiny website designed, but you could also do it by trading your time and skills. Echo is a community where people trade using time instead of money with a handy exchange rate of 1 hour = 1 Echo. A quick brainstorm around the table showed us that we all do have useful skills to offer, even if you may struggle at first to think what they are.

The workshop was a great opportunity to begin these conversations, and the participants on the How to successfully lead a community project course will be able to tap into vital peer-to-peer support.